Imagine Kevin Johnson’s shock when he found out the reason American Express cut his credit limit by $7,000 was that other customers who shop at the “same establishments” frequently default on their loans! This practice called behavioral scoring is hurting consumer credit ratings but it’s all perfectly legal. In addition to looking out for risky merchants (like bars, pawn shops, marriage counselors, massage parlors and repair shops), American Express has been checking credit reports for more than just the score – for where their clients work, who their mortgage lenders are and whether they’ve missed a payment with any other loans.
In another horrific tale of borrower despair, Pauline and Kevin McGrade used one of their American Express perks – traveler’s insurance – before leaving for New Zealand on vacation. When Kevin had a heart attack and fell into a coma, ACE – American Express’s insurance provider – denied coverage on the grounds that “he must have had a pre-existing condition.” As a gesture of good faith, the company finally agreed to waive $53,000 but left Pauline holding the bill for the hospital bills.
Video: Understanding Usury - Sharks Disguised as Financial Institutions
Forty-four-year-old freelancer Diane Lawton had her personal and her business American Express cards frozen for “financial review,” receiving a letter stating that she could resume borrowing only after providing two years of income tax returns, along with three months of pay stubs and banking records.
There have been 259 complaints to the Better Business Bureau regarding American Express billing in the last 36 months. Some consumers who sent their payment in just two days late received harsh sentencing: an interest rate increase from 9.99% to 28.99% by the next bill cycle! Others who pay online may see this change occur overnight, as the computers are programmed to double interest rates automatically! Imagine missing one month’s payment with a balance of $7,000: with an interest rate hike to the 30% cut-off, that same payment will balloon to $13,000 in just a few short months!
Untold numbers of Americans are suffering this fate – not just on one of their cards but all of them. Once one payment is missed on one card, the other card companies find out and similarly jack up rates – even if you’ve never missed a payment with them directly!
You Can Consolidate ALL Credit Card Brands!
Often times, American Express in particular refuses to negotiate with debt management programs. However, debt consolidation companies work a little differently and consumers are finding that American Express does, in fact, work with these organizations. In one case, an $8,500 American Express credit card debt was reduced down to $2,200 by a debt settlement company.
Can You Renegotiate Your American Express Bill?
While most consumers are unaware, they are in a good position to barter, since credit card companies are suffering such tremendous losses. American Express profits plunged 79% on the fourth quarter – and they’re trying to recoup these losses sooner, phoning members in earlier stages of delinquency to offer new payment plans that remove certain fees or drop interest rates. Experts recommend negotiating by letter and keeping a copy of all correspondence so there will be a paper trail. Inform creditors about your situation, why you reneged on your agreement and let them know your plans to get out of debt.
The American Express Centurion: Interesting Facts
Video: The American Express Black Card
-It’s sometimes referred to as “The Black Card.”
-It is the ultimate symbol of affluence and status in the US.
-You can only get one by invitation.
-Most members charge at least $250,000 annually to other American Express cards.
-Members must have been with American Express for at least a year.
-Their accounts must be in good standing, always paid on-time.
-They must make luxury purchases like hotels, high-end travel, boutique shopping and high-profile events.
-The annual fee is $2,500.
-The cards are made of real Titanium.
-Card members receive automatic upgrades on 15 airliners, including priority seating and advanced boarding privileges. They can also get private chartered jets.
-Members receive personal invitations and special discounts on celebrity cruises.
-Members can shop after-hours or hire personal shoppers to pick things up for them.
- Card members can get exclusive tickets for sold-out events.
-Card members can get reservations at the world’s trendiest restaurants.
-A personal concierge will call to remind card holders about anniversaries and special dates
-One card holder had American Express organize and take care of his entire wedding – all the way down to the tuxedo rentals and Jacuzzi tub hotel room
-Another member had American Express arrange an audition for a TV soap opera for her
-Nickelback, Pink, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Chamillionaire, Bow Wow, Lil Wayne and Ludicrous all wrote songs referring to the black card