1. Money
LaToya Irby

Citibank Credit Cards Will Get Higher Interest Rates

By November 15, 2008

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If you have a Citibank credit card watch out for an interest rate increased notice with your next billing statement. Though Citigroup, the bank servicing Citibank credit cards, promised it wouldn't be increasing interest rates "at any time, for any reason" market conditions have influenced the bank's decisions to increase rates.

According to The New York Times, Citibank cardholders have until January to opt-out of the interest rate increase. If they choose to opt-out, they can continue paying and using their credit cards under the lower interest rate until the card expires. After expiration, though, those who opted-out would have to apply for new credit cards.

Interest rate increases and credit limit decreases are commonplace in the credit card market. These days, you can't take anything for granted with your credit card. Make sure to pay close attention to your billing statement and any inserts that come with it so you're aware of changes to your credit card.

Be careful how you respond to an interest rate increase. Though you may be inclined to opt-out, it might not be a good decision. Read 3 Reasons You Shouldn't Opt-Out. Make sure you scroll through the comments to #13 left by Scott who was able to negotiate a much lower increase than what Citibank originally gave him.

If you have a Bank of America credit card, you may have recently received notification of an interest rate increase. Unfortunately, you're now one of millions of credit cardholders that have their interest rate increased in recent months. Not too long ago, Citibank implemented a brutal rate hike on cardholders, doubling and even tripling interest rates in some cases.

As always, you can opt-out of the interest rate increase and, from what I've read (via Credit Matters Blog), Bank of America has a slightly attractive opt-out deal (if there is such a thing). If you opt-out of the interest rate increase, you have the convenience of paying off your credit card balance under the old interest rate as long as you don't make any new purchases. Your credit card will stay open after you repay the balance, assuming BoA doesn't change it's mind before then. If you use your card, either before or after you've paid off the balance, the new interest rate will go into effect.

What makes the opt-out more attractive is that you can pay off your balance at the old rate without having your credit card closed, which might have lowered your credit score. Of course, Bank of America stands to benefit, too. By keeping your credit card open, you're more likely to make a charge to your account than if it were closed, giving them a greater chance to make some money from the higher interest rate.

This is one time when opting-out might be a good idea. Just make sure you don't use your credit card until you've repaid the balance. Then, once it's paid off, make periodic purchases, e.g. every 2-3 months, with your card to keep it active and pay the balance in full when the billing statement comes.

Update:

Be careful about calling to ask for a lower interest rate. CreditMattersBlog.com has warned readers that Bank of America is known for taking information you reveal during those calls and using it against you. In fact, one commenter Hanadarko, says his sister was convinced to apply for a lower rate card, but ended up with a $1,000 credit limit reduction her credit limit reduced to just $1,000 above her balance! BoA reps should be reading your Miranda rights when you call because anything you say can and will be used against you.

Have you negotiated your way into a lower interest rate? Tell us how.

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Comments
November 20, 2008 at 4:59 pm
(1) Karen says:

I have not had a late payment in 3 years. Beginning of 2008 I had $8000 in credit card debt. I steadfastly paid it off all year and paid off the last $750 two weeks ago. It feels great to be debt free, but then a week later I got an announcement from Citibank my interest rates were going up. Why would they hike the rate of someone with no debt and a FICO score of 780? I don’t mind that much as I plan to use my cards just on occasion and pay them off every month but it seems crazy to me to hike my rate when I have great credit and no debt.

November 21, 2008 at 11:48 pm
(2) Tim C says:

I just got off the phone with Citi Bank, They where raising my card from 4.99% to 14.99%, I opt out, I never was late,paid way above the min and i am pissed,but i will nor pay the 14.99% though hahaha

November 22, 2008 at 2:14 pm
(3) BlueEyedFish says:

I have had a Citibank card for 14 years, never late, paid off in full each month for the last 3 years. FICO score 750, no late payments on anything EVER, No new credit in last 6 months. Just got a letter saying my rate is increasing from 8.99% to 15.99%! Although I pay in full each month, I’m still ticked off!

November 22, 2008 at 3:32 pm
(4) Carol H says:

Citi increased my rate from 7.9 to 14.99. I opted out. Only reason they could tell me for the increase is that it was the “banks discretion.” Last month they gave me an increase on my credit line (that I didn’t want.) Well it is over now.

November 22, 2008 at 10:35 pm
(5) Kristen says:

Me too! Thank goodness I read my bill. I called to negotiate the new higher interest rate down, without any luck. Like others on this list, I’ve got great credit. I do have a balance that I am paying off, which I have now transferred to another card with 4.5% apr! This has actually worked out pretty well for me. I guess I should thank citibank…nah…

November 23, 2008 at 12:37 am
(6) Mary says:

I opted out of the higher rate as well. I think Citibank might be sorry it decided to increase its interest rates when they start to lose money. I always paid on time. However, I was in the process of paying off the cards anyway. I hadn’t had my account with Citibank for very long, so closing the accounts shouldn’t hurt my credit score much. I’m glad I read the letter they sent.

November 25, 2008 at 7:33 am
(7) amr says:

i just paid off one of my citi cards that they had increased the rate on, and mistakenly charged my car insurance to it. anyway, they declined the charge and put a warning on my citicard.com main page to contact credit management. with the way things have been going lately, im guessing a reduction in credit line or something is on its way. I had HSBC lower a credit line to 50dollars more than what i owed them on a furniture purchase card, despite a 700 plus score and again never being late on anything, and a BoA account that we never used that BoA had been pushing the credit limitup on a regular basis was closed because we had lost the card and asked for a reprint..

weird things are going on and its getting scary…

November 28, 2008 at 6:55 pm
(8) David F says:

Same deal here – excellent credit score, 18 years with this company, rate went up from 6.75% to 15%. I called USAA and they gave me their lowest 6.25% rate right away.

I suppose this will increase their cash position as all their disgruntled former customers close out their credit card accounts. But it’s ridiculously short-sighted. Way to run a company into the ground!

November 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm
(9) This is criminal says:

This is unbelievable! Why are the retards in congress not doing a damn thing about this???? TWENTY FIVE PERCENT APR??????????????????? I CAN GET A CHEAPER RATE FROM THE MOB. THESE PEOPLE DESERVE TO GO BANKRUPT AND THEIR CEOS DESERVE TO GO TO JAIL FOR LIFE.

November 30, 2008 at 10:53 pm
(10) Leann says:

I got the letter and immediately called and thank goodness I got an english speaking representative. What the hell are these people thinking? They get the bailout and decide to screw the people who pay on time, don’t file bankruptcy and then increase the interest rates so far outside the realm of reason. Hopefully Barack Obama will put a halt to all this nonsense and deception from these so called businesses. If I ran my house the way these crooks are running their companies I’d be in jail. What a joke. Opt out is the nice way for telling them to shove their card where the sun don’t shine.

December 1, 2008 at 7:25 pm
(11) K-Luv says:

SAME thing happened to me. Increased by 6%….I have been with them for FIFTEEN YEARS..NEVER A SINGLE LATE PAYMENT! They increased it HIGHER than my wife who hasn’t been with them long and has been late once or twice. Card is still good for a few more years, but I intend to pay them off as QUICKLY as possible now or transfer and give my money to another company!

December 2, 2008 at 2:07 am
(12) CitiSux says:

Ok, with Citi since 2003. Never paid late. 6.99% fixed rate. $8.73 balance. Paid it off this month. Got the letter. Changing my rate to 14.99% VARIABLE! WTF? I called them and negotiated to a 11.99% variable (a joke considering I was at the low fixed rate). The reason I didn’t opt out because I was worried about what it would do to my fico score (705) and worried about what kind of credit card I would get if I applied in this market. Calling USAA sounds like a good idea! *Flipping a bird at Citi*

December 2, 2008 at 3:23 am
(13) Scott says:

If you’ve got a good credit score, good payment history, and one of those horrid letters from Citibank, READ THIS. It just may make your day, and it will serve you well in dealing with billing departments everywhere.

I have three (3) credit card accounts from Citigroup, ALL of which sent me change in terms letters.

Card 1: 9.99% to 14.99% (this is a ridiculously large limit card which I carry about a 35% debt load on)
Card 2: 9.99% to 16.99% (used only for paying school and xmas shopping, typically small balances)
Card 3: 14.49% to 17.99% (zero balance)

I called their customer service department and was given, unsurprisingly, the hard line about how “the bank” decided that due to “the financial climate” that they had to increase rates “for everyone.” She suggested that my options were only one of two things:

1.) Opt out and have my account(s) closed.
2.) Accept the higher rate and keep my card.

I’ve practically grown up in call centers, so I knew that this lady wasn’t the end of the line. I got off the phone with her so she could close the call out with notes that I said I’d think about it and call back.

I called back half an hour later and spoke to another representative. This one was less friendly (to be fair, I was a bit curt in describing my issues with the letters). After saying my piece politely but curtly, and pointing out some inconsistencies on Citi’s part (promising to Congress that they wouldn’t pull this kind of gag anymore, specifically a year before pulling this gag), she again gave me the “You have two options” ultimatum. I told her that it was clear that she wasn’t going to be of any help to me. She said she was sorry, but the bank says that these are my two options.

Nuts to that. “Can I please speak to a supervisor?” ‘Sure, I can get you to an account supervisor, but just so you know, they won’t be able to help you with this.’ “That’s not a problem, please just transfer me over.” ‘I can do that for you. Please hold.’

*three minutes of holding later…*

‘Scott?’ “Yes?” ‘I have an account supervisor on the line for you now, she will take care of you from here on.’ “Thank you!”

I proceeded to explain as politely as possible that while I understood that Citigroup was in a bind, so were all of us; I feel some of the pain, because my 401(k) contains some Citi stock [who knows if I do or not, but it sounds good]. I signed an honorable agreement between two supposedly honorable parties, myself and Citibank, and I don’t feel that having my APRs raised by 50% (9.99% to 14.99%) or more per account is a reasonable or honorable thing to do.

I peppered the one-sided conversation with reminders that I was not upset with her personally, nor was I upset with her employee that just shut me down [after all, that's her job], but that I was upset at how I was being treated as a customer with a very high credit score and nearly a decade of account history who has never made a single late payment on any account with Citibank, and I made what I felt was a VERY reasonable offer on my part: I’ll pay off my existing balances at the agreed-upon rate prior to this change, and will accept the terms of the rate change for all future purchases. She said that she didn’t have any way to make that happen, but to give her a moment and she’d see what she could do.

Here’s what she came up with, very quickly, while thanking me for being such a good customer:
Account #1: 9.99% to 10.49% APR
Account #2: 9.99% to 10.49% APR
Account #3: 14.49% to 14.54% APR

It took a grand total of eight minutes of talking and three minutes of hold music to go from a 5%, 7%, and 3.5% increase in APR to 0.5%, 0.5%, and 0.05%(this one amused me) increases.

Did they still win? Sure, a little bit. Am I happy with that? Darn tootin’, that phone call saved me probably $2,000 in interest over the next three years.

The moral of the story:
Request a supervisor after stating your case to the first person you speak to if they don’t give you what you want, and be SUPER NICE to that supervisor. They are generally given the power to bend rules to make the customer happy, and if you get them on your side, they’ll do what they can for you, because many of their escalated calls involve screaming and cursing.

Take it from someone who’s worked in the industry for a very, very long time and has watched tens of thousands of dollars of money get simply handed out or written off to people who just bothered to ask for it or were so relentless that it became cheaper to pay them what they wanted than to waste time (time is money!) talking to them over and over. :)

December 2, 2008 at 11:35 am
(14) Susie Q says:

I got one of those notices too. Called Citibank. They had no desire to retain me as a customer so I declined the rate increase and will let them close my account in two years when the card expires. Meanwhile I have other credit crads and am on track to pay everything off in 12 months. Then I will be free of this debt slavery! Always having to watch every statement, paying the minimum twice a month so they can never accuse me of being late with a payment – this s*cks! I am paying for everything now (and going forwrad) with a debit card – in cash!

December 6, 2008 at 1:56 am
(15) Crystal says:

You know what I don’t think we’re saying here. That Citigroup is in breach of their credit card contract. This is why they had to send out these “opt out” letters and we need to make it clear to the bank, to the government, and to the credit report people that we’re not going to allow ourselves to be punished for Citigroup’s obvious mismanagement. I will not stand for this and I do not think any of us deserve this. I had my rate jump 50% after 5 years of on time payments. I chose to opt out because a predatory credit card like citicard does not deserve any business of ours if they can not treat of us with respect and can not respect contracts. contract are LEGAL DOCUMENTS and when someone is in BREACH especially an ANTICIPATORY BREACH those who are on the losing of the contract have immediate right to sue for damages. We all here are suffereing damages thanks to citi and just because they are a large company doesn’t mean they can breach millions of contracts without facing the consequences. RISE UP CONSUMERS AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

December 7, 2008 at 1:51 am
(16) Ron says:

Just received my notice today and my current rate was at 9.49% but now raised to 16.99%. That’s total increase of over 70%!

Called customer service and asked to speak to a supervisor concerning the recent credit increase. I explained that i’ve been a client with Citibank for over a period of 5 years and charged in excess of $35,000 during that time. I went on to explain that i’ve always made my payments on time and was never late. I explained to the supervisor on duty that my credit score is between 785-805.

The supervisor was attentive to my concerns and researched my account and informed me that my APR will not increase and remain at 9.49% and will be sending out a letter to confirm this in the next week.

If you have the time, talk to a supervisor on duty and they may possibly assist you with the increase in the APR to a lower rate than said.

December 8, 2008 at 12:27 pm
(17) Lauren says:

I recently also received a letter notifying me of an increase from 12.9 to 18.9%. I spoke to a representative on Friday and was not satisfied with the results. I began reading this site, and on Monday called back. The 2nd representative was much friendlier, and stated that while his power did not allow him to change the terms, he could transfer me to a supervisor.
I began speaking about how I value being a Citi customer, getting credit from them early has made my overall credit history easier and score better. She reduced my rate to 15.9. I thanked her and continued the conversation, asking if they were able to work with most of the customers who called with similar problems, and how proud I was to be a citi customer when they spoke to congress last year regarding rate increases. She reduced my rate again to 13.9%.
Speak to a supervisor, keep them on the phone, keep it a conversation instead of a confrontation. They engage mostly in confrontation, they appreciate a conversation. It saved me 5% on my APR.

December 8, 2008 at 8:28 pm
(18) Bert says:

I have about 35% usage on my Citi card and I have been a member for 4 years. My rate was going to increase from 13.99% to 19.99%. I called them and calmly asked to opt out and cancel my card. I was then transferred to an account rep who promptly,no questions asked, reduced my rate to 10.99% then after thanking her she lowered it to 9.99%!!!

December 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm
(19) steve says:

I have good credit and spotless payment history with Citibank. Today I got a notice that my interest rate was going to increase from 8.7% to 24% unless I elected to opt out. ARE THEY KIDDING ME? My tax dollars just bailed them out and now they want me to grab the vaseline and let them have their way with me. NO WAY! I opted out immediately. I also divested my portfolio of ALL citibank related investments and sent an email to about 100 colleagues and subordinates instructing them to close all citbank accounts, divest, and hope they go out of business and rot in hell and to pass the email on to 100 other people each.

There was a time when the fat cats tried to keep all the workers in poverty. The unions ended that. Now we need to take on these credit companies. If I had known that citibank was going to try and raise the rate on a pre-existing balance I would have never given them a penny.

Citbank has absolutely no ethics, and it is time for them to die as a business. Opt out, divest, shop elsewhere!

December 12, 2008 at 2:48 pm
(20) Steve says:

update! I managed to pay my balance off in full. It took some doing but I wanted to make sure that Citibank NEVER gets another penny from me. I feel bad for their employees but I hope Citbank goes out of business forever for their unethical treatment of GOOD customers!

December 14, 2008 at 2:56 am
(21) Mona says:

So… I get a letter a couple of months ago asking me to use my Citi card or it will be closed for non-activity. So, I use the card. Paid it off as soon as the balanced showed. Called on Friday to check the interest rate. Was told the account was CLOSED! Told her I did just what they asked why close? Sorry, she said, can’t help you. And they are going to list it on my CR as account closed by consumer. Which dings my Fico. I attempted to talk to a supervisor but apparently the call volume was high. I will try on Monday. I talked to a great rep from Amex and she suggested what I should say. As how Citi is reporting on my CR is wrong. And contestable. I would rather not use the time and effort to have to contest and write letters etc etc… BUT, I will!!! I have a great history with Citi, never late etc, card for 10 plus years and a Fico over 800… jerks! Know its not the rate thing you all are discussing but maybe some others have had this happen… It can stay closed, but don’t mess with my score with a complete lie. It was a bank decision and change in policy… nothing to do with me.

December 18, 2008 at 3:15 am
(22) Gerry says:

I have a similar experience with CITI: credit score in the 800′s for many years, never missed any payment anywhere, pay off all credit card balances in full each month, so never pay finance charges but the rate increase from 9% to 17% was still very offensive to me. Especially that it was retroactive for the prior 2 months.

I phoned CITI and asked for a supervisor who initially said it was the same rate for all customers now, so take it or leave it and opt out causing the account to close. When I told her I would pay off my balance in full as usual and not use the card again, but keep it open for emergencies only, the supervisor quickly offered to drop the rate to 11%. She said to call back in 2 more months and they could probably reduce the rate again.

My advice is not to let any bank get away with this behavior — it is predatory and if not illegal, should be.

December 18, 2008 at 10:13 am
(23) Kara says:

I have been a very “loyal” citibank customer since 1997. I’ve carried a balance of about $25,000 since then when they incrementally raised my credit line every month while I was a college student as I hovered around the limit. I consider this predatory, but it’s their business. I have been struggling to pay down this balance (it carried through grad school, world travels, etc) but it’s been very difficult. I’ve NEVER EVER had a late payment (I always even managed to pay the bill on time when I was living in the Kenyan bush for two years) and I ALWAYS pay 2-3X the minimum payment. Then this. They’re raising my rate a point effective January 1. That’s not a good way to reward loyal customers.

December 20, 2008 at 8:11 pm
(24) Eddu says:

Keep going and pay off that debt! There is another cool blog about personal finance with a fitness twist at http://www.fitandwealthyblog.com

January 8, 2009 at 3:28 am
(25) John says:

Been a Universal Card then Citibank card holder for 11 years and never missed a payment. Interest rate was raised to 17.99% from 10.9% so I opted out. I did feel sorry for the service rep, I could tell she doesn’t agree with what the bank has done.

January 8, 2009 at 9:46 pm
(26) CALB says:

I received one of those notices also. I have been a loyal customer of Citibank for over a decade. Every once and a great while over the years they tried to hike my interest rate up a bit, but I would call, remind them of how long I have been with them and they would quickly reduce it back to the original rate. They wanted to increase it from 9.09% to 14.99 and of course I called and told them I was opting out. They asked if I would like them to give me another alternative. I told them sure, shoot. They came back with 11.24%. I thought a second and said no. And although I know I could have asked to speak with a supervisor and gotten less, the whole thing frankly just made me mad. The fact my tax are probably going up because they got my tax dollars to save their butts for handing out credit to individuals who had no business having credit and then they in turn decide to increase the people who just put food in their mouth so to speak. They could have gone to 0% and I would have still opted out.

For those who just called them to opt out, make sure you follow that up with a registered mailed letter. You have no proof from just a phone call. Also make sure you put in the letter that they need to make sure the APR is adjusted on January’s statement back to your original rate because your January’s statement will have the new rate.

January 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm
(27) Nancy says:

I have a very unpopular opinion here, so first I will apologize and then I will proceed.

We are all complicit. I know we want to discuss only the details that benefit our argument but since this is a gov’t of, by and for the people it works both ways – The situations are results of the people as well. Our gov’t has been living on borrowed money (and time) for decades and we haven’t said a word (except a handful here and there). You think your credit card interest rate is high? Don’t you realize that whatever, and I mean, whatever you think you are paying in interest on your credit cards and their little balances is nothing compared to what we are all paying on the credit balance of the US? Do you realize that almost all of our federal income tax goes to paying interest on the federal debt. The gov’t and us, the people, all spend more than we can afford. We live on credit unnecessarily (except for a house or college loan – only 2 exceptions and the 2nd one is a little suspect as well) and then complain when someone or something doesn’t support our bad habits to our liking. (My folks and I scrimped for years to save for my college and then I went to one I could afford.) If everyone did that, the colleges would make accessible private loans – paying directly to the college itself at low interest rates. They’d be forced to otherwise almost no one would attend but as long as enough people are willing to go into privately incurred debt, this bad system will continue.

I drove a super cheap used car, skipped entertainment events and saved till I could buy a car for cash and then bought one I could afford and I get compliments on it! It’s a lovely, brand new 4 door sedan. I set my priorities – first is money for health insurance, 2nd is groceries and 3rd is rent or mortgage within my budget. Everything else takes a back seat. I use my Citi card, collect the 1%, 2% or 3% kickback from purchase and always pay in full. I make money off of them. To pay cash is stupid if you can get a 1-3% kickback for free! I always set up autopay on my credit cards so if it’s late, it’s their fault. I make damn sure I have enough in my acct to cover stuff. I live where I cxan afford to live. I eat what I can afford to eat. I eat healthy food 90% of the time because every person who is overweight is costing me money. 40% of all health care costs in this country are directly attributable to overweightness. Everyone who is overweight is making my premiums go up and the premiums that a company has to pay causing some companies to go out of business and lay everyone off. We are all connected. You buy items made in China, you are costing yourself a job eventually. We have been playing with fire for decades and now we are going to pay the piper instead. We are ALL complicit. I know people who make very little money but they can blow $20 – $40 on ringtones for their cell phone. Ringtones is a multi billion dollar industry so whose buying them all? I guarantee you it’s not the fiscally conservative people. Everyone who racked up credit balances (not the one time here or there but the ones where it takes months to pay off) all contributed to the crap we are in now. And all the overweight people who aren’t willing to make their health a priority are contributing to the downfall of so very much. I give the alcoholics and drug addicts and even smokers a pass cause that is a chemical addiction that has physical withdrawal pains but Weight Watchers, a very supportive and loving place to lose weight from what my friends have told me, does not have rehad centers. So except for an exception here and there, we just all need to take responsibility for our contribution to the situation and stop the finger pointing. If we all pay off our credit card balances, which you should have done anyway and live within our means and maybe spend time going for a walk instead of shopping the whole country would benefit. We could take a doggy poop bag and go pick up trash around our towns and save our cities and towns tax dollars. Try to buy stuff with less packaging to cut down on new dump sites. Instead of shopping volunteer for the elderly or Big Brother to help cut down on crime or other needed city services to help out the tax situation. Ask not what your country can do for you…you know the rest. Instead of going to the mall, go play with some underpriviledged children and get some exercise. Losing weight, both physically and fiscally, is patriotic. It’s the best thing you can do for your country.

Knew you wouldn’t like it.

January 15, 2009 at 12:46 am
(28) BRandon says:

I just called in, and am in the same boat as most of you with very high credit scores, and excellent payment history. I have been informed straight from the first rep i spoke with that the best option here seems to be to opt out then 60 days prior to the card expiring you can call in and continue at the current rate. I was very apprehensive about this, and questioned him several times about how this would effect my credit score/fico score. He said that this in no way shape or form will effect my credit, because it will appear as the card is still open and active. I am back to my 5.49% I had prior to this card being raised, and I feel that this in some way is just the same as canceling it. Do you guys think that OPTing out, and keeping the card at the current interest rate WONT effect my credit/fico score? and will calling up 60 days prior to it expiring really keep it open? I am 24, and this was my first credit card at 18, so its important to me to keep it open.

Thanks
Brandon

January 15, 2009 at 1:35 am
(29) Mike says:

I have been with Citibank since 1991. My rate has just jumped from 10 to 16%. I am very angry about this. I had $1,000 credit available and now it is up to $9000 credit line. I have been trying to get out of debt and I think this will actually make me do it!

January 15, 2009 at 2:24 pm
(30) Katie says:

I called Citi yesterday after I looked online at my new statements and saw that my interest rate increased on both of my cards from 6.99% to 14.99%.
Obviously, I was very concerned.

Just like comment # 13, I talked to an account representative who said that because of the economy and the lending environment blah blah blah they had to increase rates on all of their customers. I said that I would like to be transferred to someone in the Account cancellation department and she said okay no problem.
I spoke to a very nice lady in that department who was more than willing to work out a more acceptable rate. She said that they are trying to retain as many customers as possible.

So my rates increased slightly, but at least I am not paying the 14.99%. I do not want to close the cards since I have been with them so long and have excellent pay history; closing the cards would just hurt me on the Credit Bureau. They added in some extra perks such as 3% cash back on ALL purchases for 9 months and 2.99% on new purchases for 9 months.

Long Story Short: My advice, call customer service then go thru the cancellation department. It is worth a shot.

January 15, 2009 at 2:33 pm
(31) Owen says:

I called in and opted out of the rate increase 9% to 16.99%. I am a little angry about the whole situation. I was thinking of some way to get back at them for this. I know if I use the online billing and receive a paperless statement it cost the company about 50% less to process. I do this with all of my credit cards. Because I want the company to succeed and pass that savings on to the consumer with lower rates. That is not happening with CITI. I am suggesting to everyone I know who receives a paperless statement to switch back to paper.

January 16, 2009 at 5:24 pm
(32) Dan says:

You all got hosed. They tried to jack mine up to 14.99, and lowered me down to 7.99%

They didn’t check my credit or anything, so it is not like they did it because i have a better credit score than you.

They tried making the excuse that they have to raise rates due to the economy, which is absolute BS considering that congress just gave them a few billion dollars.

January 18, 2009 at 4:30 pm
(33) Jay says:

FWIW, I just got off the phone with Citi. They wanted to raise my rate to Prime + 11.99% at the time of the letter (16.99%). They agreed to Prime + 7.99% (11.24%).

I didn’t haggle a lot. It’s not the best rate, but then again I don’t use the card that much.

The representative said they are very much willing to come down from what is stated in the letter.

January 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm
(34) Considering Defaulting says:

My rate went from 5% to 24% and I was told “oh, the economy and the godd must suffer with the bad.” I was too tired to haggle, I call bright and early tomorrow and get my rate lowered.
Thanks.

January 21, 2009 at 12:35 pm
(35) Ken says:

Just got off the phone with citi card. They jacked up my rate from 11.99% to 24.99%… I talked to their indian rep that gave me the option to close my account, which I did. I was a customer of Citi since early 90s, both banking and credit card account.

Citi is sucking blood out of people after getting our tax money… I am closing my bank account with citi and am seriously considering a Debt Settlement solution. Citi deserve it.

January 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm
(36) Joe says:

I got the letter too. 5.99% to 14.99% after I JUST transferred ALL my cc debt to that account, $8,900! And my minimum went up over $60. They linked the balance transfer rate to my purchase rate, and even the balance transfer rate went to 14.99%! First woman said she’d lower me to 12%-something. I said that’s till double, and I’d like to speak with a manager. I told the supervisor that it’s unacceptable to punish me, a long time customer with good credit, and it’s a “perfect storm” with my very recent balance transfer. He lowered the balance transfer to 6.99% and set my purchase rate to 11.24% and retroactively adjusted my statement. Not great, but I’ll have it paid off within a year and I won’t opt out now and lose that high credit line.

January 23, 2009 at 1:10 am
(37) Mickey says:

Can you believe this! We went from 11.99% to 29.9% I have been with the company for five years and never have been late. We sent our bill in two days late and they jacked up the interest rate and told us we would have to renegotiate our contract next year. We are paying off the account and I will never do business with them again!

January 26, 2009 at 12:23 am
(38) Mark says:

This is great info. As I am in San Francisco, I think I will go to their office here. Perhaps I will get better results. I also have a significant amount invested with Smith Barney, who is owned by Citi, so that should give me leverage. My rates went from 10.99 to 14.99 for card one and from 9.99 to 26.99 on card two ( less than 30 days late on one occasion). They only offered to lower the 26.99 to 24.99. This sucks. I agree about personal responsibility, etc.. but I also think the banks should be responsible as well. They got greedy with these exotic loans, and not they are suffering as a result. But they have the government to bail them out! Who do we have?

January 27, 2009 at 9:20 pm
(39) Scott & Geri says:

Just another comment concerning Citi Financial credit…. We have 2 accounts, one Premier Pass Credit card and a line of credit. $6500 cc and $9500 loc. Presented with an increase from 10.99% to 24.99% on the credit card, we called and complained. We were told the same as everyone else, the economy etc. Never missed a payment, always paid above minimum, 3+ years customer. Opted out the first call, 2nd call had no record of opting out, but were more than happy to opt us out. After reading this blog, called back again and got 4.99% for 9 months then 13.99%. Why couldn’t they just do that the first time for well estabished customers?? Thanks Scott! (post #13) You inspired me to call back.

January 27, 2009 at 9:33 pm
(40) Scott & Geri says:

To Nancy:

Is this blog to discuss the fact that Citibank has tried to raise the interest rates of well established, good paying customers by 50% – 150% for NO reason of their own, or is it to discuss the relationship between overweight consumers and their credit habits? Must be all fat people don’t pay their bills.

Get a life.

January 28, 2009 at 3:43 pm
(41) Pete says:

Nancy should write a book and go on tour with Suzy Orman!

Also called back after hearing the same first time that it was due to the economic downturn and the second time the excuse was that it is the cost of doing business. Spoke to a supervisor and they proceeded to lower my rate from 16% down to 11.24%, which is higher than the original APR of 8% that I was paying.

Glad that they didn’t go through and purchase the $50M jet…..maybe rates would go even higher!!

January 29, 2009 at 11:38 am
(42) Janis says:

I just received my statement for February and Citibank increased my interest rate from 7.9% to 24%. I have never been late, never exceeded my credit limit and I always pay weeks in advance of the due date. I am furious and am looking for other options. I read that opting out would effect your credit score. It was my goal to be completely debt free this year but with this increase it will be impossible!

January 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm
(43) Kimberly2 says:

Hmmm…glad you all got a letter in the mail, the last thing I received in the mail from citi was convience checks, I pay our bills on line so I didn’t get any “notice” with my bill. They jacked my husbands rate to 19.99% two weeks ago it was 13% we owe $400.00 on this card, it is his longest running credit card. Thanks for the advice, I will have to pass it along.

January 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm
(44) Robyn says:

I received the letter saying my account terms were changing from 9.24% to 16.99% yesterday. I found this page, took Scott’s advice for calling them, and called them today. I was super nice to both people I spoke to, mentioned that I got my bill and this letter around the same time and noticed my interest rate was going up 7% and asked if that was related to something I did or if everyone got it (yes, I was playing dumb). They said that a lot of customers are getting this increase but that I qualified for a new low interest rate *SHOCK* and then he said he would transfer me to an account specialist. I was super nice to the account specialist, and somehow I got a rate of 8.5%, which is lower than what I started with.

I didn’t mention the economy once, or the bailout (I really wanted to though), or my history with the company (6 years, a few late payments but none within the last 8 months). I think enough people have called and complained that they are starting to realize that they need to keep the customers they do have that are still able to pay.

I called about 3-4 months ago and got my interest rate lowered from 24% (it had been that way for a while cause of late payments) to 11% just for asking, and it’s been steadily going down as the prime rate gets cut. I’m a little in shock that I didn’t have to get angry on the phone to get my way.

January 30, 2009 at 10:58 pm
(45) Kimberly2 says:

I have to call BS on all this I got 8.5% because you were nice, are you Citibank customer service reps in disguise. My husband just called Citibank at 7:25pm on 1/29/09 and they said no way, they could only drop it down to 14%, it was 13% they were going to up it to 19.99%, perfect credit and we owed only $400.00 he was nice and they weren’t budging! He shut down the account and all they said was OK! Good Riddance!

January 31, 2009 at 12:15 pm
(46) Karen says:

News for customers holding Citi cards under other merchant’s name. I have a Sears Gold Mastercard underwritten by Citibank. Long term customer in excellent standing, they had actually been lowering my rate over the past couple of years. My notice today says they will jump me from 7% to 22%.

When I called to negotiate (as per #13) I was told they do no negotiate rates at all – that the rates are set by the bank.

Anyone have any suggestions for how I should proceed?

Thanks

January 31, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(47) Karen says:

And I should clarify – I’ve gotten these notices of rate increase over the past year and nothing has ever happened. I’m tempted to just lay low.

This notice also says the increase was effective December 08 – yet this statement doesn’t show it…

February 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm
(48) Jim Huether Sr. says:

Citi raised my rates to 24.995. I called and they told me I could opt out and they would keep the 5.24% I had, but my card would close on 7/31/09.

Later I found out that when that happened, my credit would look like my Limit was $0 and I owed around $4k, so that would be very bad on my credit. Is there any way, I can make them keep my Limit to waht I owe, so my credit won’t get hurt by this? I mean, it was there HUGE increase that I opted out from. They did not close my account due to my non or late payment.

February 4, 2009 at 10:54 am
(49) Little Eadz says:

I want you to know that this works. I also had a citi-card and they raised my rates by from 6% to 15%. I had called Citi before but the said there was not they could do because it was a company’s decision. After I read this article especially Scott’s comment (see #13 above), I call back Citi , after the representative that answered my call told me that they could not do anything and that no-one has the authority to change or over-ride the rates the company set, I asked to speak with a credit manager. She transferred me to a “special department” and the credit specialist did lower my rates.

The rates did not go back to what it was but I got a rate I could live with. The rate is now 2% over what I was paying before, 8%. In addition, they gave me a promo of 3% for 9months on purchases, then after the 9months it would increase to the normal rate which will be 8%. Is that okay? Well, it is better than paying 15%

The moral of the story, CALL THE CREDIT CARD COMPANY IF YOU RATES ARE HIGH regardless of the credit card company, call and ask for a lower rate, if the rep can not assist ask to speak with a credit specialist or credit manager.

February 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm
(50) Not Opting Out After All says:

I just got off the phone with Citi / Sears. I’ve had a Sears Mastercard for about 10 years and have a perfect payment history. When I got the notice that they were jacking my rate up to 21.99% (from 12.83%) I was ready to opt out immediately.

I spoke cordially with the fellow who answered the phone, but he (of course) could do nothing to help me. I asked to speak with a supervisor, and was put through to a senior account specialist.

She agreed that I am indeed an ideal customer, and APOLOGIZED for the rate-hike notice. She said that many such notices went out without any review of the customers’ account history.

At the conclusion of our very pleasant conversation, she told me to forget about the rate hike and actually LOWERED my rate to the best she could currently offer—10.24%!

If you are a customer with a spotless account history, I urge you to take the few minutes to call and see what can be worked out. And remember, don’t get mad—GET A LOWER RATE!!!

February 6, 2009 at 7:13 pm
(51) millie says:

I just found out that Citibank has increased my interest rate from 13.99 to 19.99%. This is ridiculous. I have never ever had a late payment and I also have another card with them which stayed at 6.99%. I just called and the representative was very firm that there was nothing that I could do. This is the payment I get for being a loyal customer despite getting numerous balance transfer offers from several banks over the years

February 6, 2009 at 7:47 pm
(52) Tracy says:

Millie – call them back and ask to speak to a supervisor. My rate increased from 11.99 to 19.99. I called last night and was given the song and dance and the 2 options; I said I’d think about it and call back and they said I’d have to decide then. So, I opted out. Unfortunately, I carry a balance. Then I found this site and realized I probably made a mistake. THANK YOU SCOTT!!! (#13) So, I called back tonight and explained the situation. I got the line again about the 2 options with the customer rep so I asked for a supervisor. I, again explained the situation, that I did not want to opt out, but that I’ve been a good customer for 20 years and would like a better rate. I ended up with 11.24% and I can keep my card. Sure, I’d like a 6.99, but I’ll take 11.24 over 19.99. They will send me a letter to confirm it. Call them back and ask to speak to a supervisor.

February 8, 2009 at 4:06 pm
(53) Steve says:

What is wrong with all you people who call politely and try to negotiate a better rate?

YOU’RE MAKING A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL.

The only ethical thing you can do is opt out, give them no money, and help to drive them out of business forever.

Trying to get a little something extra for yourself while they have their way with the rest of us (without the courtesy of a reach-around) totally lacks a vision of the “bigger picture”. Don’t give Citibank ANYTHING. Not a penny.

Cancel all your Citibank accounts! Shop elsewhere! Encourage others to do the same!

February 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm
(54) kp says:

$45bn in TARP funds and we have to jump through hoops. awesome.

Glad I pay on time and have been a loyal customer for 11 yrs.

I plan to pay off my balance, keep my card open and never use any Citi-related services for the rest of my life.

February 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm
(55) kp says:

If you want to file a complaint:

http://www.helpwithmybank.gov/complaints/index.html

February 10, 2009 at 5:18 pm
(56) kevin says:

Called Citi today to inquire about why my interest rate increased from 13.24% to 19.99%. I am fortunate enough to be in a situation where I never need to carry a balance, but I still wanted to see if I could lower the rate in case, heaven forbid, I would need to in the future.

After explaining the reason for my call (very calmly) to the customer service rep, she informed me that they increased everyone’s rates across the board, regardless of credit history, score, or anything (because of tightening credit, banking issues, etc.). Without me even asking, she told me that she could check to see if I qualified for a lower rate … and sure enough, I DID! She told me that I qualified for the lowest interest rate offered for my card (Citi Dividend Rewards Visa), which is prime rate plus 7.99% = 11.24% (same as Tracy #52 above). The whole process took less than 5 minutes, and I never had to talk to a supervisor!

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CALL AND REQUEST THAT THE CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE CHECK TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY FOR A LOWER INTEREST RATE FOR YOUR CARD!

The rep I talked to said that anyone can do this at any time, and in fact, you should do it every so often, especially if your credit score/history has improved over time. She also informed me that the only way Citi will EVER lower your interest rate (the fixed portion that adds onto prime rate) is if you call and request it.

Hopefully this helps all of you out there who have decent credit and got swept along like everyone else into a much higher APR category. And even if your credit is less-than-perfect, it never hurts to ask if you qualify for a lower APR than you are getting right now.

February 10, 2009 at 5:47 pm
(57) Robyn says:

Update: Today I just got my new card agreement in the mail, and my interest rate is 8.24%. However my cash advance rate is 19.99% but I don’t do cash advances.

Yesterday I got a letter from them thanking me for continuing to be a customer and that they are glad I’m not closing my account.

I don’t know if it matters, but my card isn’t actually Citibank branded, it’s Key Bank. Apparently it was bought out by Citibank a few years ago, so I have to deal with their customer service to do anything with it.

Plus dealing with Citibank is MUCH better than Sallie Mae, who I currently owe waaaay more to. Sallie Mae is the real Devil but that’s a whole other story.

February 12, 2009 at 7:31 pm
(58) kp says:

Followed-up w/Citi and the lowered mine to 11.24%. Not great, but better than the 14.99%!

February 13, 2009 at 12:19 pm
(59) Leslie says:

We should not be penalized for the current economy and bailing out Citibank.

My interest has gone up 3 different times since December. We also should not be penalized for closing our accounts because Citi has decided to increase interest rates.

I will be writing my Attorney General’s office and I hope others will do the same. If you have ideas as to how we can make our voices heard please let us know. We need to stop this scam. We are bailing out banks and it’s not our job!!!

February 13, 2009 at 12:32 pm
(60) Leslie says:

P.S. #56 Kevin wrote – After explaining the reason for my call (very calmly) to the customer service rep, she informed me that they increased everyone’s rates across the board, regardless of credit history, score, or anything (because of tightening credit, banking issues, etc.).

My question is this — does our credit card Agreements state that Citi can increase interest rates due to bank issues?? I’m going to check into this and if someone has the answer please post. Thank YOU!!

February 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm
(61) Susan says:

With reference to comment #59 above (I will be writing my Attorney General’s office and I hope others will do the same. If you have ideas as to how we can make our voices heard please let us know. We need to stop this scam. We are bailing out banks and it’s not our job!!!) I would like to share my experience with Qwest. I was told by a door-to-door salesman (WHY do I ever talk to them?!) that if I signed up for DSL, my total bill would go down, because the DSL line would replace my landline, and would not have to pay for phone and internet. It was either a bald-faced lie or an example of a poorly trained rep. I saw on my very first bill that the cost to me had gone up instead of down, and I began calling Qwest on a regular basis (every few days) to complain and ask for relief. I kept notes of everyone I talked to, and when, and what they told me. Eventually, I copied all of my notes and sent them to the State Attorney General (Ken Salazar, now a member of the Obama administration), who threw them in with a pending class action lawsuit, and I got a very nice settlement, which meant I had no phone bill at all for more than half a year. I say, keep notes when you call Citi, refer to your credit card agreement (which typically says that they can do whatever they want and you have to like it) and if you don’t get satisfaction from them, send it all to your state’s Attorney General. Offer to be available if they need someone to interview. Consumers need to stand up for their rights, and we so seldom take the trouble. These days, who can afford to just pay the higher rate and let the shameless gouging go by without comment?

February 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm
(62) Bob says:

They told me they give me a competitive rate under 9 until or NOV 2009.

Opting out I am good with a lower rate until 2012. Please tell me why I shouldn’t opt out?

February 24, 2009 at 11:49 pm
(63) Sick of Banks says:

The big banks are continuing to take advantage of people rather than helping them with the bail out money they got.CHeck out the big dogs’ salaries. They’re cutting lower paid staff’s pay and cutting hours and raising interest rates on cards without any reason. IT IS TIME TO SWITCH TO A CREDIT UNION WHERE THEY ARE “PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE” AND DON’T HAVE TO MAKE A PROFIT FOR THE FAT DOGS AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN!!!!

March 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm
(64) pjs says:

we all need to write to our senetors,congress,our attornies general,and the consumer protection agency. there HAS to be laws about this.myabe price gouging? bait and switch? maybe just plain out theft or embezzelment. it takes a HUGE group ofpeople to do anything about this.

March 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm
(65) Tom says:

It also happened to me with my Citi business card. I had it for 4 years ,always carried a balance , 800+ FICO score, never late and it went from 11.99% to 19.99% . I called customer service they everyone’s went up and after explaining I would have to get a card somewhere else and then cancel this one she aid. Sorry nothing can be done. Got another business card 0% for 12 months and then 10.99% . Called Citi and they then said they would give me my original rate. I told them sorry too late. They told me they really wanted to keep me since I was a great customer. I told them then you should have not raided the rate in the 1st place. With the conpaamy in the toilet you would think they would want to keep the clients that pay on time. Maybe they are in trouble because they are driving good clients away.

March 11, 2009 at 5:59 am
(66) Jeff says:

Well it’s time the we all stop using any credit offered by Citi Bank. I agree with #53, CLOSE your accounts and do no business with CITI. We The People are getting the back end of things here. Do all of you really need Citi Bank Cards? All of you state that you have great credit yet still keep the card. Makes me wonder about your credit score to be honest. Stop complaining about the rate hike and take action. Write your congress, get off your ass and fight or like most people these days, wait for someone to fight for you. All of you who are keeping your Citi Accounts make me sick. Cancel the accounts. THEY HAVE BAILOUT MONEY, YOUR MONEY, and yet you dont care. As I am in Iraq having to worry about road side bombs and rocket attacks, I now have to worry about the enemy at home. Let Citi Bank fall people.

March 18, 2009 at 4:52 pm
(67) Jenn says:

I have the same story. Citi’s the only credit card I hold, excellent credit score, never been late. They took me from 7.99% to 14.99%, and advised I had the opportunity to opt out when they sent this info out back in Oct 2008. The rep advised the best he could do is lower me to 11.24 (prime + what my rate was, 7.99%), and I asked to speak with a supervisor.

I got the same song and dance about the economy and how it was “going back to old times” and that because credit cards are unsecured, it’s a higher risk now, etc. I advised that I, like many others, have just finished forking over a few billion to Citi to help them out, and this is how they help me? She told me she could give me my 7.99% for the next six months and that I’d have to call in and “see what programs they offered.”

I’m not satisfied with this, and I’m thinking about calling back to have a more permanent solution put in place. Granted, I’m lucky in that I don’t have a balance right now – I worked really hard to pay my credit card off. It was the point of the matter. I found it almost comical that I could receive a letter in the mail a week ago, talking about what a great customer I was they were going to incresae my credit line, and then I log in to my account, only to see 14.99% staring me in the face.

Total BS. The folks at Citi probably pal around w/ folks at AIG.

April 5, 2009 at 11:40 am
(68) JMV says:

Same here.

I was offered an attractive non-expiring 2.99% balance transfer 2 years ago which I happily accepted, the closing dates of choice was after the 15th which they agreed on, but hell broke loose when they start changing the billing closing dates.

I work for a bank and traveled often at the time and I was unable to take a look at the card statements in a timely fashion which made me failed one payment. I contacted them and they gave me million excuses NOT to honor the original 2.99% offered. I was ok, with the 8.99% charged at the time, but a year later, and billions of dollars received in Bail Out money… OUR MONEY… they bumped the rate to 19.99%.

I asked them to closed the account and they told me that if I did so, I needed to pay off the full balance within 3 months… talking about predatory practices indeed. My reply to them was, “go ahead, you guys just don’t want to be paid. You are converting a good standing account into a bad debt for your benefit”.

My guess is that they are forcing another financial crisis by squeezing tax payers to levels seen never before just to get more money from the Feds.

Unfortunately even the bank I work for is incurring in the same predatory practices… the bank received Bail out money as well.

And the government? Doing well, thanks. Who cares how much Europeans love Obama, if Obama is not showing love to tax payers…

April 8, 2009 at 11:08 am
(69) Brent K says:

I had a rate of 7.24% and it got jacked to 14.99%. Unfortunately, I had used the card to help grow my business and was running a high balance. I didn’t optout and this last March got hit with the rate jack.

I called Citi and attempted to convert to the Citi Platinum Select but the rep said I didn’t qualify. I called back later and tried the rate reduction angle..the rep offered me 13.29%. I asked for her supervisor and the supervisor offered me 6 months at the old rate and then back to the 14.99% or they also offered to look at rates n the middle (i’m assuming that would be closer to the 9.99% others mentioned… in this instance..I decided to optout and lose the $60K credit limit…my card doesn’t expire till april of 2010…so I essentially have one year at my old rate of 7.24%, which saves me about $300 a month in finance charges…and if I get the opportunity to pay it off before then, I can always call and ask not to opt out any longer…seems like a no brainer to me… it worked out well for me because my card doesn’t expire for so long…so now the pressure is on to pay the bugger off if I want to keep the card…

wish me luck!! thanks for this well written forum!

April 14, 2009 at 1:14 am
(70) meg says:

I have been a customer of Citibank for over 10 years. Never missed a payment, in fact once I made two payments by mistake, I sent them my AM EX bill by mistake. They did not notify me. Cashed the check and put a $3000 credit on my account. I pay the bill off every month. My rate was increased to 15.99 %. When I found out I opted out. Luckily I really don’t need the credit.

We didn’t take the bail out money. They did. We pay our bills. They are preditors. They don’t deserve our business. We need to tell Washington to open their own bank and quit loaning money to the banks. Especially Citi Bank.

May 24, 2009 at 9:06 pm
(71) hittingrabbit says:

Ok people I am with the rest of you….but here is the real real bottom line problem.
When your born your original birth certificate is sent to the Department of vital statistics,that office then re-prints a new birth certificate in a corrupted version of your name in all CAPITAL LETTERS,the purpose of this is that it creates a corporate version of you an new entity in which the new birth certificate is a negotiable instrument,this negotiable instrument is then sent to the United States Treasury office which will then issue bonds with a set percentage of value the issuance of these bonds allow the U.S Treasury then to authorize the International Bankers owning the Federal Reserve to print that x amount of notes (these are promissary and pretty much the same as a check.
It’s backed by the national Gross Domestic Product the amount of earnings that a individual will make over their life time.
The Federal Reserve receives some $550 Billion a year from the I.R.S in interest payments to print notes that are backed by the American people.
However in the event the Federal government which is running a deficit of nearly 7 Trillion at the current moment becomes insolvant then assets owned by the American people can be seized to payoff any Federal debt,this means all the goodies in your home,your LCD’s dvd players,movies,cars and bank accounts,including valued stocks and or other commodities,and other financial instruments including cash surrender values of life insurance policies those bank account balances also include savings accounts.
Now on with how this system is designed to screw the American people.
Fo simplicity lets say the Federal Reserve prints up $10 million USD. that $10 million USD is then sent out to the 12 Federal Reserve banks located across the United States.
from those 12 banks the notes are loaned to the smaller banks at a low interest,from the smaller banks it ends up being loaned to the consumer as various transactions such as Department store credit,major credit cards auto loans mortgages etc.
As a consumer you are charged the prime rate which is set by the International Bankers owning the Federal Reserve,this is a form of taxation without representation,because the Federal Reserve has NO Congressional oversight and the added accrued interest is the amount set by the lending institution.
The problem however was created in part from the wide gap in the trade deficit as well as outsourcing,and how imports have been given huge reductions in tariffs(import tax)compared to domestic tax production and or credits.
Now back to some added information lets say 10 smaller banks each receive equal shares of $1 million USD each of those 10 smaller banks are now allowed to loan out up to 9 times their initial deposit.
In other words they loan out $9 million for every $1 million in actual notes deposited so the $10 million gets loaned out to the tune of $90 million USD loans in the form of various types of credit.
Because the housing markets were weighed and relied upon to heavily as a standard economy stabilizer it allowed bloated home values banks loaning out non existing USD for home purchases all the while loaning massive amounts to new construction of course when housing and commercial buildings exceeded the demand this drove the prices of residential housing down to reasonable levels but the loans exceeded the real value as the crash came,and the decline of the home values are currently what they are really worth.
Many that saw their homes lose a value of 30% or higher in a short period defaulted therefor the banks no longer had those massive amounts of interest payments coming in.
However to add to the overall problem when a bank received the payments on the homes they did not deposit the payment in balance to pay down the floating debt but rather issued further credit of 9 times the new deposit.
This being repeated thousands of times all looks great on the books but when the payments stopped so does the flow of the USD.
Other problems relies upon how deregulation allowed the banks to do what is known as in house operations such as allowing the bank to self insure the loans again the banks didn’t have enough USD in deposit to pay the defaulting mortgage payments nor the investor’s their dividends.
So the banks scramble to get real cash on hand to bail themselves out so that investor’s won’t start dumping their stocks.
By increasing interest rates it increases the account balances the Congress a few years back required the banks to increase min amounts due so that consumer’s could pay down their credit debts faster,so with an increased interest rate it increases the min amount due each month thus more real USD though still fiat currency it’s better than a number written on account papers at the bank.
Thats no longer flowing.
Now to those that have stated they pay off their account balances at each billing statement it does not matter to them what your credit score is or how good you pay,if you pay off your balance each month they don’t really care to keep you as a customer because they actually lose money having you.
Matter of fact many banks have started canceling accounts that pay off each month.
Now what can the consumer do about exborbiant increases on revolving credit lines? yes opting out is an option matter of fact I did it on my Home depot card issued by Citibank I was already paying 21.99% interest rate when I was notified that it would increase to 25.99% and a default from 25.99% would go up to 29.99% in addition they reduced the amount of my available credit by 25%.
This is for a card that I used maybe once a year and never did I charge more than $400.00 and never missed any payment on any credit line I have.
As well as many others here that have mentioned I have never been late on any of my 9 various credit lines.
Three of the 9 are through Citibank only the Home Depot line increased interest rates and reduced available credit lines.
However since opting out on the increase I have paid off 1 of the three acounts and reduced the other 2 down to $120.00 and $338.21.
So far two major cards issued by Chase have not received any interest increase or credit line reductions,Discover card and a Mastercard issued by HSBC has not been efected.
But I am watching them very closely,make no mistake about it I would not hesitate for one second to opt out on any card issuer that acts as Citibank has.
It really doesn’t matter as far as credit scoring goes as the so called fair Isacc is not fair by any means.
I checked my credit report a few weeks ago at the three major credit agencies and noticed that Citibank stated they canceled the Home Depot line which could effect my credit score negatively if a creditor manualy looks at my report,so I will have the agencies change it to closed at consumer’s request.
This was merely a means for Citibank to attempt to adversely effect my credit score.
This is a clear attempt to show they simply did not like the sweet letter I wrote to them explaining that I’m not dumbed down to the extent of not knowing what is going on and how banks operate.
And with this I will close my post,it is no wonder Thomas Jefferson,John Adams and other founding fathers spoke negatively about bankers and lawyers.

June 3, 2009 at 11:21 am
(72) Monica says:

I just wanted to add to this discussion that you can still get your Citibank card APR adjusted. I too received the APR hike letter last winter (its now June 2009), and did not opt-out. I was not too concerned since I pay off my balance every month, but then I had to carry a balance for a few months and was shocked to see how much I had to pay in finance charges. My rate went from 7.9 to 14.99.

Like most people on here I called Citibank and got shut down by the rep on the phone when I tried to ask for a lower interest rate. Then I found this site and read about asking for a manager. So I called back and went through the same script with the second rep as I had with the first (but I maintained my cool and was very polite). I finally said to the rep “I realize you have given me all of my options and that there is nothing more you can do for me, therefore can I please speak to your manager?” He tried to give me the “you are not going to get any better offers” speach and I thank him for his concern but still wanted to speak to the account manager.

Once I had the account manager on the phone I followed the script #13 on here set-up by saying how much I enjoy my citibank card and have had nothing but great service in the past and I really want to continue this same relationship in the future, but going from a 7.9 interest rate to 14.99 does not allow me to use my card like I have in the past and I wanted to talk to “you” (the account manager) and what we can do to change that rate. I also mentioned that on Citibank’s website I can apply right now and get a 10.99 rate and didn’t comprehend how a loyal customer such as myself would get 14.99.

That was all it took, she lowered my interest rate to 10.24. So while its not the 7.9 I enjoyed for many years (and was the reason I took the card in the first place), 10.24 is a heck of a lot better than 14.99.

My point is it apparently does work to speak to the manager.

August 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm
(73) hittingrabbit says:

Ok it’s been about 3 months since my last post,since then Chase bank did increase the interest rate slightly which was exceptable to me.
But let me go on I recently was sent a pre approved notification from Citibank for a small loan of $4,500.00 I went in their office and when I left I received a check for $7,500.00 within a few minutes.
A week later I get a letter from Citibank that due to derrogatory records on my credit report (medical bill )two years ago disputed I was billed for services for my child in which I did not receive the medical facility almost gave my child medicine he was known to be allergic to he even had the allergy warning label color coded wrist strap the hospital put on him)any how citibank was increasing my interest rate by 1% which again is acceptable but I find it totally out there that they keep quoting the reasons which are not legit when the so called reasoning is derrogatory to their recent actions via a $7,500.00 cash loan.
They are setting themselves up for one hell of a class action if they dont calm down and narrowly tailor these pre-filled form letters as they are way to bias.
To the above poster I’m glad that you were able to re-negotiate your interest rate with a reasonable minded person (manager),but please be aware there have been many times whereas this negotiation does not last but for a few months when the bank suddenly will send a new notice of increase,as they have been known to reduce the interest until a higher balance then they will 9increase the interest rates even higher and then refuse to lower it and if they do they will repeat the process and each time the interest rates will be a little higher until it’s in an area where the bank wants it to be,much higher than the start.trust me just wait…..best of luck!

August 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm
(74) Bozo says:

Wait til the prime rate goes up in 2010 everybody. Then all our variable rate cards (all of them that I have are variable now) go up up up! Pay OFF your debts, let the credit card industry go to HELL. Screw them for 1% – 3% rewards and NEVER carry a balance again. It may take some time, but if you can’t do it you ARE the risky customer they think you are and you DESERVE a rate hike.

September 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm
(75) Chris says:

I called and followed the approach from Steve. In my case I have had two late payments, but I was only a day or two late (not anything excessive) so I was shocked to see that they jacked my rate up.

I made sizable payment of $3500 which was about 1/3 of my balance with the hopes that they would decrease my interest rate when I called threatening to cancel my card if they didnt. Well, I got a letter in the mail a month later saying that they had reduced my limit from $11,000 to $7,100!! WHAT A SLAP IN THE FACE. It was based on derrogatory information found on my credit file they said. Well, the only thing on my credit file are two late payments on a car loan from over 6 years ago!

Anyway, I called and was nice to them and was transfered from customer service to account manager to finally the “CUSTOMER RESOLUTION” department. I told them I owned stock at Citi and was about to sell the $10,000 worth and pay off my account and close it if they could find a resolution.

The lady talked to her manager. He dropped my interest rate from 29.9% to 5.74% and refunded $149 in interest charges.

Pretty good resolution and great investment of 30 minutes of my time. Thanks Steve for the idea!

September 11, 2009 at 11:09 am
(76) Ken says:

In Jan 2009 my rate was increased from 10.49% to 29.99%. I called and told them this was unacceptable and they changed it back to 11.49% variable. Again in June 2009 they changed my rate again to 29.99%. I called them again and they changed it back to 11.49%. Today, Sept. 10, 2009 I get notice that it is again going back to 29.99%! I gave up – opt out!
These people have no honor. Perfect paying customer for 7 years.

September 14, 2009 at 9:01 pm
(77) David says:

If you have a Citibank credit card watch out for the interest rate increased notice with your next billing statement. It seems that they have taken my 13% card I have been paying on, always on time for several years and jumped it up to 29.99% as of 9/2009. Seems like they are trying to beat the Feb2010 changes obama has imposed. Though Citigroup, the bank servicing Citibank credit cards, promised it wouldn’t be increasing interest rates at any time, for any reason. We are now broke, just in time for x-mas becasue of this.

October 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm
(78) Robert says:

I got the same letter as of today and called and opted out. I told them in a nice polite manner the letter made me feel sick and that my tax dollars had been used to bail them out. 29.999% now that is bad. My car payment has a lower interest rate then what they have been offering. Well goodbye citi.

October 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm
(79) Lala says:

I got the letter today stating that my interest rate would go up to 29.99%. Come on, give me a break. So I called CITI and talked to a customer service representative about the estimated new minimum payment. Horrendous. I proceeded to talk to an accouont manager. No luck. I used the same trick in March or February like everybody else did and got my interest rates down to 6.5% then. But this time, the account manager was very really adamant. You take 29.99% or close your account. I guess the same trick doesn’t work twice.

October 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm
(80) Jennifer B says:

Same thing here. We have a huge balance that we pay the minimum (plus extra where we can) every month on time. We haven’t made a purchase on this account for years. The rate just went up from 9.24 to 29.99. We cannot make the monthly payment now. Way to wreck a family Citibank :(
Anyone know a good place to talk to about getting into a debt management/repayment plan or whatever its called? My credit is going to stink now either way. Might as well see if I can get the balance knocked down…or I suppose bankruptcy is another option. I feel bad for citibank employees, at least those that have a heart.

October 22, 2009 at 8:51 pm
(81) Chantel Dorsey says:

Citibank is the worst bank ever and I’m an A1 customer. I have been a customer of AT&T Unverisal Card (which is owned by Citibank) since I was 19 years old. This is 20 years ago. I have never ever once been late on a payment and I get a notice stating my interest rate will raise from 16.99% to 29.99%. ARE YOU GUYS COMPLETELY CRAZY? Thank for screwing me over. I just thats what I get for making sure I pay my bill. You are to kind. And people wonder why people blow their brains out and others. You could at least used vasaline.

Chantel Dorsey

October 27, 2009 at 11:10 am
(82) joe church says:

do not take this articles advice, it is biased and tells you exactly what the credit card company wants you to do.
vote with your feet, and get out!

October 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm
(83) Alex says:

I’ve been a citibank customer for 15 years and my credit card limit is $60K because I often charge large items on it and have the ability to pay it off. That said, I have had late payments, not becuase of an inability to pay, but I’m just plain busy, so I pay the stupid late fee. I also have and otherwise excellent credit history 750+. I also pay $75 a year for this card which is again stupid, but I was using the Air miles on American and racking them up. Since I started flying the other airlines I was considering dropping this card anyway.

The point is this, and is echoed in this thread. After charging well in excess of $100′s of thousands of dollars over the years, paying thier interest, and paying there late fees for years, they are making a ton of money off of me and others. They jacked my rate over 50% something like 13.99% to 30%! While I usually pay the thing down, it’s the principal of it! All you guys are complaining about having perfect scores and them jacking your rates! There’s no customer loyalty so why be loyal to them? They didn’t bother to spend any time actually reviewing account histories to determine who should get jacked due to risk and who should just be left alone. Why should you the consumer have to call them to lower your rates? Not only am I cancelling this card (as I have several others), I am making sure everyone I know cancels thiers too and never do business with them again (yes stock too). I would encourage all of you to cancel yours as well, and go for another company, there are plenty of them out there.

Crawling back to them to negotiate another rate (but still jacked) is a bit like bending over again for another round, but this time with your permission and you brought the vaseline.

Take back your dignity people!

November 6, 2009 at 12:55 pm
(84) molly says:

citicard just called my exhusband and gave him all my information. What is my recourse? He is not on the card, not his name or his number.

November 9, 2009 at 12:04 am
(85) Geo says:

Why isn’t this on Mainstream Media??? All of the banks are doing it !!! Maybe certain politicians may look really bad? Aren’t these drastic rate increases directly related to recent legislation passed to “regulate the credit card industry”? And, the politicians allowed the the credit card company(s) and banks many months to adjust their terms and interest rates far ahead of of these “regulations” taking effect. The politicians really took care of their “Banker Friends”! Appears that this pending “regulation” is really created to be a financial windfall for the banks and credit card companies while the poor working guy who supports ALL of them is having the life choked out of him! How do they ever expect the economy to ever recover if all of our hard earned dollars are going to ever increasing taxes and this “Legalized Loansharking”! There are no $$$ left for us to spend! Let’s send them all some more “bail out” money ! . . . What a disgrace!

November 10, 2009 at 7:02 pm
(86) Tara says:

Citibank just raised my rate to 18%. I’ve been an excellent customer for 15 years with no late payments, but I keep a balance (well below my limit). Went through three levels of customer service. Got NOTHING from them. So, I paid of my balance. Citi can have 18% of ZERO! Great busienss plan, Citi, you amoral piece-of-crap company.
And I own Citi stock!

November 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm
(87) Sly says:

I’m in the same boat people. I’ve had my AT&T Universal Card for 19 years and never been late. Today, I got the letter that they were raising my rates from 13.99% to 29.99%, this is after raising it from 7.9% to 13.99% from last year. I spoke to the Account Manager about lowering my rate after being a good customer for so long and he said he couldn’t help. I think the days of getting the rates lower are over. I told him that I not only get to bail them out of debt for bad loans with TARP money, they want me to give them more because the executives need a X-mas bonus. I opted out!! And they can make to trip to Tartarus.

November 18, 2009 at 10:31 am
(88) William Pelley says:

Whoa! Mine went to 24% yesterday. Been a customer for 14 years, never late, never exceeded limits, never missed a payment even when out of work for 18 months. I had to deplete my savings, raid my retirement, and even sold my house so nothing would impact my credit. What a crock. I wonder what Citi’s CEO’s interest rate is?

November 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm
(89) Stanley Stuwell says:

CitiCards are officially becoming a non-player in the credit game. Nobody wants them anymore, except for the most desperate. And their loyal, current customers are abandoning ship, left and right. Granted, I have a FICO score of four hundred-something, but I am fun to be around, use my credit card A LOT, and have managed to make my minimum payment almost every month. I should be valued, not punished. Oh well. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What’s the URL to Discover Card?

November 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm
(90) AH says:

I also received the same notice. My rate was increasing from 7.99% to 23.99%. I have been a citibank customer for 15 years, never made a late payment or missed a payment and have excellent credit history. I called Citibank and they had zero interest in helping me out. The gave me the sad song about “having” to raise the rates and it being out of their control. In the end I opted out and will be moving all my credit to another institution.

November 20, 2009 at 6:53 pm
(91) Fred says:

My letters was 8.24% to 29.9%. I say everyone just stops paying their credit card bills! If we all stop paying they’ll be forced to listen to us!

November 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm
(92) Terri says:

I just received my Citibank letter in the mail today from 7.9% to 29.99% as of January 30, 2010!! I have been with them for over 5 years and this is the “Thanks” we get?? I WANT MY TAX DOLLARS BACK AND NOW!!!!!! They should have never got our tax money in order to bail them out!! They are only doing this because of the new federal law starting in February!! What they are doing should be illegal.

January 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm
(93) Kevin says:

I called and spoke to a supervisor. unfortunately they really can’t help me out (what they say) unless i accept the terms. if i do, they will drop my apr 1% if i make a purchase every month for 6 months, and then they will drop my rate 1% again. bend me over why don’t you. time to balance transfer

January 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm
(94) GT says:

Same situation here. 15yr customer, APR raised 2 times last year, then reduced when I called (currently 11.24). Good not great credit. I got the letter too wanting to raise to 29.99, called & got no help. I want to caution you to 2 things they are currently “offering” if you don’t opt-out.

First; some of you will be offered the 60% interest credit for making on-time payments. What this means is that if you accept the new 29.99% apr and make your payment on time they will credit your account each month with 60% of the previous month’s finance charge. For Ex: 10k balance at 29.99% APR = about $250 finance charge in January. If you make your $350 min payment or more then in Feb they will give you a credit for $150. This is actually not a bad deal at first glance, as over the next 12 months (assuming you dont charge more & pay the minimum) you will actually end up with about a $1k less balance than if you opt-out and stay with your current rate (11.24% in my example). BUT, you are taking 2 major risks here. #1 Citi may cancel this program ANYTIME with 30 days notice. #2 your rate may go up if the prime does as well, incurring an even larger monthly payment.

#2 Citi may offer you to participate in their Payment Partner Program. This is where they will give you a 20% credit for every dollar you pay above your minimum up to a max of $550 a month. CAUTION. Read these terms carefully as they will also be lowering your credit limit each month while your in this program as well, usually by the amount you pay over your limit+the 20% credit. In addition ALL OF THE 20% CREDITS YOU RECEIVE ARE TAXABLE. It is considered debt forgiveness and must be claimed as income. So, while you do get rewarded for paying above the minimum the realized benefit is not a 20% credit when you consider the tax implications. Not to mention the change in your Credit Utilization Score for have a higher balance to limit ratio as they lower your limit. This will most likely affect your credit FICO score.

My take. Given Citi’s recent track record I wouldn’t count on them keeping ANY program that helps you in place for an extended period. In addition I’m not willing to gamble that my VARIABLE APR wont be raised again and screw the whole equation up. I am also not willing to receive any “bonus” just to incur more tax obligation at the end of the year.

I will be opting out of my FIFTEEN year card and setting up fixed monthly automatic payments as high as I can afford to pay this card off ASAP. This is not necessarily illegal what they’re doing, as it is America and I feel any business can change terms of service as they deem fit. However, it is my right as a consumer to discontinue their service and take my business elsewhere. I am doing so, and telling everyone I know to do the same. THIS is how you punish them for this behavior, and ultimately cause them to fail as an organization. I urge the rest of you to do the same.

January 28, 2010 at 6:08 am
(95) Sherry says:

I pay my AT&T Universal Card on time and give Citi Bank
over $200.00 extra plus the minum and finance trying to pay off my bill now down to $3,000.00 they raised my interest fee from 5.99% to 25.99% and I have been a long time customer, paying on time and giving large payments. I believe they think we have a lot of money if we pay on time, and they try to prey on the good customers after getting bail out money! Our complaints should go on the TV news & to the government, Obama who gave them our tax paying money to bail them out! I can’t wait to pay them off as soon as possible, I never want to do business with them again. I will try to call to see if they will lower my rate so I can pay them off faster.

May 31, 2010 at 12:49 am
(96) Joshua says:

Slightly different boat here.

I have a citi card, and have had it for 15 years or so. I don’t use it, having paid it off long ago. I live in Japan, so I don’t get my mail from Citi (who sends it to my old American address).

Recently I opened a new bank account, and they wanted a credit card to start a balance. I gave them the Citi card. Then had to look up Citi on the web to pay off the balance. The interest rate listed? 29.99% !

Not bad for a card that has no balance, and hasn’t for 10 years (and an owner with 800+ credit). Way to go Citi!

November 14, 2010 at 3:37 pm
(97) STEVE says:

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

As I already stated, I opted out and did not allow them to have their way with me. My account is now closed.

The best part is that fending off Citbank’s attempted financial rape created an awakening in my life and I set upon an aggressive plan to live without until my debt, ALL my debt (except mortgage) was paid off. My TV and car is from the 90′s. I seldom eat out. My groceries are dented can discounts and soon-to-be expired meats. But it worked! I went from a substantial debt to debt free in about 18 months. I still have “good” cards that I use for the perks and large emergency purchases but I always pay it off immediately. Now if I want something, I put it off. I’m currently saving for a flat screen TV. When I have the money saved up I will go buy it with a credit card (for the airlines miles) and then immediately pay it off.

LIFE IS GOOD. AND CITIBANK GETS *NOTHING* FROM ME EVER AGAIN.

November 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm
(98) Citibank says:

You will be back. You will ALL be back! Nobody escapes us. Eventually you will suffer a financial emergency and you’ll reach for your Citibank card to bail you out. And when you pay an hour late, we’ll really stick it to you with late fees, higher interest, and *your immortal soul* (didn’t read the fine print, did you?)

And you thought that opting out of paper statements was helping the environment… but we’re still printing them and using all that paper to stoke the fires of credit hell!

Mmooo Haaa Haaa Haaa! (evil laughter trailing off until it becomes inaudible over the sounds of people crying out in agony)

December 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm
(99) tim says:

Good customers, never forget what this company did to you. Pay off your balances and never do any business with them again. encourage anyone you ever meet to do the same.

Make it our goal to send that stock back into the pennies and pray their breach of contract on good customers who pay their bills on time creates alot of work for lawyers and class action suits should their company ever recover from their own mistakes.

Use cash again, buy american, do business with people in person and start treating eachother with respect again.

February 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm
(100) Steve says:

Living debt free has been awesome, and now I have money in savings. The other day I got a credit card offer from Shittybank in the mail. It was a really good offer and I almost fell for it. I thought I could get the card for “emergencies” and then I almost had to slap myself in the face. How could I, even for a second, consider doing business with this rape company ever again? Fool me once, shame on Shittybank. Fool me twice, shame on me.

April 15, 2012 at 6:19 am
(101) Brian | Talk Phones says:

Major thanks for the blog.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

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