American Express Change in Cardmember Terms, Rate Increases

Written by admin - 651 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: The rates in this article were current when the article was originally written. See the credit card issuers website for current rate information.

It looks like Citi isn’t the only credit card issuer raising their ratesAmerican Express enclosed a letter in our latest bill detailing a bunch of changes to their Cardmember Agreement. While I’ve reproduced the entire letter below, here’s a quick summary:

  • Cash advance APR is increasing to Prime + 17.99%
  • Late payment APR is increasing to Prime + 14.99%
  • Default APR is increasing to Prime + 23.99%
  • Foreign transaction fee is increasing to 2.7%

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Important Notice:

We are making several changes to our card products in response to the challenging environment and the increasing costs of doing business. These change include raising interest rates on some American Express cards and increasing the conversion rate for Charges made in forrign currencies. Please see below for details.

American Express offers a number of tools and resources designed to help you take advantage of all the benefits and features your Card offers, including the ability to make payments electronically or by phone free of charge, free alerts by e-mail or phone, and tips for using your Card. For more information, visit www.americanexpress.com.

Notice of Changes to Your Account

The terms of your Account are subject to change in accordance with the American Express Cardmember Agreement (”Agreement”) governing you Account (including increasing rates and fees, changing fixed rates to variable rates, and adding new terms). Any language in your Agreement contrary to or conflicting with terms amended herein is replace fully and completely. All terms of the Agreement not amended herein remain in full force and effect. These changes apply to existing balances and future balances on your Account. We urge you and any Additional Cardmembers on your Account to read this notice carefully and file it along with your Agreement in a safe place for future reference.

APR for Cash Advances

For billing periods that begin on or after December 2, 2008, the second sentence of subsection B of the Finance Charges section of your Agreement is replaced with the following:

“The APR for Cash Advances is the Prime Rate plus 17.99%.”

This is a variable rate. As of October 13, 2008, the Prime Rate plus 17.99% is an APR of 22.49% and a DPR of 0.0616%.

APR for Late Payment

For billing periods that begin on or after December 2, 2008, the first sentence of subsection C of the Finance Charges section of your Agreement is replaced with the following:

“Nothwithstanding the foregoing, unless a higher rate applies, the APR for all balances except Cash Advances will be equal to Prime plus 14.99% if during any Review Period any portion of any Minimum Amount Due is not credited to your Account by its Payment Due Date.”

This is a variable rate. As of October 13, 2008, the Prime Rate plus 14.99% is an APR of 19.49% and a DPR of 0.0534%.

APR for Default

For billing periods that begin on or after December 2, 2008, the last sentence of subsection D of the Finance Charge section of your Agreement is replaced with the following:

“The Default Rate is a DPR which correspond to an APR equal to Prime Rate plus 23.99%.”

This is a variable rate. As of October 13, 2008, the Prime Rate plus 23.99% is an APR of 28.49% and a DPR of 0.0781%.

Transactions Made in Foreign Currencies

Effective January 11, 2009, the bolded clause of the Transactions Made in Foreign Currencies section of your Agreement is replaced with the following:

in each instance increased by 2.7%.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Agreement

Effective December 2, 2008, we are adding a sentence to the last paragraph of the “In Case of Errors or Questions About Your Transactions” section of your EFT Agreement. The following is added after the third sentence:

“You authorize us or an agent to debit your Bank Account for this amount.”


Effective January 1, 2009, the first three sentences of the Rebate section of your Agreement are replace with the following:

“Everyday Purchases” are Eligible Purchases made at U.S. locations of the following categories of merchants, excluding warehouse clubes and superstores: supermarkets, drug stores, and stand-alone gas stations. To qualify as an Everyday Purchase, the merchant must submit the Charge using the appropriate industry code, merchant code, or product/service code established by us. If the merchant submits a Charge using a different code, the applicable Charge will not qualify as an Everyday Purchase. Merchants with multiple locations may submit Charges at different locations using different codes. This means that Charges at some locations will qualify as Everyday Purchases, but Charges at other locations of the same merchant will not.

The good news here is that they’re not increasing the APR associated with regular purchases, so… As long as you play by the rules and avoid cash advances, little will change for you. Still, it’s good to be aware of what they’re doing. The other bit of good news for us is that they still haven’t reduced our credit limit, though they’ve nicked a bunch of other people with credit limit reductions.

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Published on November 29th, 2008 - 651 Comments
Filed under: Credit Card News

Related articles...

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» American Express Increased Our Credit Limit
» American Express Membership Rewards Points Can Now Pay Down Federal Taxes
» Good News for AmEx SimplyCash Cardholders

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. Amex *is* increasing interest on purchases. I made the same mistake in thinking until I turned over the page listing the other interest increases. They’re increasing purchases to 15.99%.

    Comment by bonnie — Dec 2nd 2008 @ 3:54 am
  2. I got mine today, and I thought the same thing also until I read the other side.

    They are raising my rate to 12.49% from 9.48%.

    Too bad since 9.48% was a great rate.

    Comment by Mickey — Dec 3rd 2008 @ 5:00 pm
  3. I checked my letter. There wasn’t anything on the back. Perhaps this differs from one cardholder to the next.

    Comment by admin — Dec 3rd 2008 @ 5:02 pm
  4. However, thanks for posting this letter.

    It is good to know I’m not the only one.

    I was searching the web to find out if anyone else had gotten this letter when I found this site.

    Thanks again.

    Comment by Mickey — Dec 3rd 2008 @ 5:03 pm
  5. My letter says interest rates on “some” cards are raised

    So maybe, I’m just one of the unlucky “some”.

    Comment by Mickey — Dec 3rd 2008 @ 5:06 pm
  6. My Amex card “only” increased APRs for Cash Adv., Late Payments, Defaults, and Foreign Currency Transactions.

    I double-checked and saw nothing anywhere about my Purchase APR going up. So it could very well affect only certain cards/cardmembers.

    Comment by Mooseboy — Dec 4th 2008 @ 5:31 pm
  7. I got my letter as well, and they’re going from 6.99 to 10.99%. I tried to call and opt-out, and they’re saying I’m stuck with it, even if I close the account.

    Since I generally keep my credit balances on this account (because it’s so cheap!), it means another 400+ a year for me.

    I’ve asked to have someone point out where my agreement says they can unilaterally increase my rates, even when I agree to close my account and they’ve said there is no opt-out. When pressed further, they said they’ll call me back.

    I know they’re suffering financially, but this really isn’t fair!!

    Comment by Jason — Dec 15th 2008 @ 10:04 am
  8. I carry a balance on their card and they’re increasing my rate from 9.99% to 12.99%. I don’t understand how they can legally make a unilateral change like this. My experience in the past has been a company will try to increase my rate, I opt out of the change in terms and as long as I continue to make payments in accordance with the original terms and don’t use the card any longer, they can’t change the interest rate. Am I wrong? Can they legally do this?

    Comment by Kurt — Dec 17th 2008 @ 11:41 am
  9. Apparantly they can. I’ve been on the phone several times with supervisors, to no avail.

    The CEO of Amex testified earlier this year that they don’t raise interest rates just because they want more cash. They only raise them when the individual is late on payments. I guess they’ve thrown that out the window.

    Congress is considering action to prevent this behaviour, you can write to –
    House Financial Services Committee, Democratic Staff, 2129 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (Phone 202 225–4247)…

    contact web page: http://financialservices.house.gov/contact.html

    Also, if you want to write to Amex specifically and complain, you can do that at -
    Ms Doria Camarava
    American express
    777 american express way
    Ft Lauderdale, FL, 33337

    I will be writing. It seems like there is a lack of legal basis. I’m not an attorney, but I thought that contract changes required consent. Amex is unable to explain where my agreement says that they can make unilateral changes, but it does seem from researching it that it’s a common problem lately, among several credit issuers.

    Comment by Jason — Dec 17th 2008 @ 2:44 pm
  10. I just received the letter regarding my interest rate increase along with a notice from Blue stating that my credit limit is going from 10K to $4400. This is totally reidiculous and unacceptable. In the statement they claim, among other things, that the decision was based the fact that my debt is too high with AMEX. That’s total BS because I just made a $4000 payment in May bringing my balance to $0.00, which is where it has been until the last month or so because of Christmas shopping. They also refer to my credit score from Experian, which again is bogus because my most recent Experian score is 721. I am soo sick and tired of these coporate sleezebags sticking it to us that are just trying to get by. I will be contacting AMEX tomorrow and if i do not get any satisfactory answers, I will be contacting an attorney. If someone has already initiated a class action lawsuit, PLEASE contact me.

    Comment by Kendall — Dec 21st 2008 @ 9:47 pm
  11. I had a late payment on my Am Ex card last month(5 days late)…They charged me $ 38 late charge and increased my annual rate to $25.96%…an increase of almost 11% meaning about $1200 EXTRA a year…They are like doing business with the mob…I am going to transfer balances and do business with my credit union that has been 9.75% for the last 10 years…The difference on interest on these two similar balances between AmEx and Credit Union is an extra $182 per month…Just think if consumers had that extra money to buy basics or spend in our present economy…We wouldn’t need to be bailing out these finiancial institutions that cant’t manage themselves and it would be much easier to manage our finances

    Comment by Gary Boroski — Dec 30th 2008 @ 11:22 am
  12. I just got my Jan. bill and noticed the increased interest rate. Had to did through my past bills to find it in small print about the interest rate increase. I can’t believe there is not an opt-out option. Capitol One did it to me in the past trying to increase from 6.9% to 11.9%. I used the opt-out. It closed the account, but I was still able to pay it down monthly just as I had been doing.

    Right now, many people are hurting or worried about their savings and future. I think Amex is taking advantage of this by doing this at this time and not providing an opt-out. They are hitting these people when they can not afford to just pay off the balance or transfer it to another card, and they are sticking it to the ones who actually make their payments on time.

    Comment by James — Jan 18th 2009 @ 3:56 pm
  13. I saw that American Express increased my rate by 3%. I called and they said that they had send a letter in November. What great timing. With all the Christmas expenses, college tuition and work stress. I usually vote with my feet when these things happen. This is the worst I have ever been treated by a credit card company as I always pay on time, even if it might be the minimum. I am closing all my cards down except for the credit union. They are the best.

    Comment by GT — Jan 22nd 2009 @ 12:42 pm
  14. I got a 3% increase in Jan. from 9.9 to 12.9%. No warning, no explanation. I’ve been a card holder since 1981, never a late payment. Called a customer service rep and was basically told “tough luck”. I’ll keep writing and calling.


    Comment by Tom — Jan 25th 2009 @ 12:31 pm
  15. The same thing happened to me. I am a good customer and they raised mine as well to 12.9% and told me tough luck as well. I thought the supreme court was making it so they couldn’t do this. In this economy this doesn’t help.

    Comment by Shannon — Jan 25th 2009 @ 2:47 pm
  16. Just noticed I went from 6.99 to 10.99.

    Although when i called the CSR said my rate was prime plus 6.99 which would only be 10.24 right now???

    I’m pissed, but I cant afford to close this account, I need the available credit in my portfolio it will help get a better rate when I build my house.

    Comment by Jon — Jan 26th 2009 @ 2:31 pm
  17. I’m in the same boat as some of the others. Rate was increased from 9.99% to 12.99%. Called customer service was told they have the right to change rates. I don’t have my original paperwork or marketing information that prompted me to apply for the card. But I recall what I liked about it was the 9.99% was fixed for life. Does anyone have a copy of their original agreement or marketing information. I smell class-action all over this one.

    Comment by Tim — Jan 28th 2009 @ 2:46 pm
  18. I just got an increase without notice. Their
    original agreement is extremely vague,
    and sure this is illegal.









    Comment by bb — Jan 28th 2009 @ 9:49 pm
  19. I recieved my December statement and noticed an increase from 6.99% to 9.99% on my Amex Blue Card. I’ve never been late and have outstanding credit. I looked through all of my past statements to check for a change and opt-out notice. I came accross the Nov. 08′ statement, which said to check pages 7 & 8 for new changes. How nice, there was no page 7 & 8. I called to ask what was going on and to request a duplicate copy of the Nov. statement. I recieved yesterday and saw the increase notification with no opt0out option. I called to find out the scoop. Basically, I was told everything all of you were told. No opt-out is possible and they can raise our rate whenever they want, to whatever they want. This is absolutely criminal. I have already had to deal with Advanta Bank (worst ever), and Citi, regarding similar situations. Citi atleast allowed me to opt-out. WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS AND HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. This situation is a prime candidate for a class acction suit. I have also talked to other friends with Amex cards and it seems as though people with good credit are getting hit the hardest, because Amex knows we will pay.

    Comment by Mike Palmer — Feb 3rd 2009 @ 2:03 pm
  20. I just received my Feb. bill and found my interest rate had increased from 9.99 to 12.99. Called them and they said the same as they have to all of the above, basically “too bad, it is what it is.” I have been a card holder for a long time and have never had a late payment. I also thought Congress was going to protect us with the loudly touted bill passed recently to protect credit consumers. Of course it doesn’t go into effect until July 2010 – I guess they have to give the banks time to get all they can from us. Previous to this rate increase, I also received a limit decrease, again for the same reasons as stated above. I’ve had it with American Express. There must be something we can do. I agree, is there a class action suit??

    Comment by Rich — Feb 9th 2009 @ 10:03 pm
  21. I just noticed the 3% rate increase on my AMEX Blue.. with current lending rates and economy I am not sure why they are allowed to increase the rates? Is there anything we can do here?

    Comment by vk — Feb 20th 2009 @ 12:14 pm
  22. I just noticed the 3% increase in my Feb statement. I called and got the same answers everyone else is getting. Supposedly they had an insert in the Nov statement, I have the statement but no insert (did anyone get one?) I was told they have the right to raise the rates anytime for any reason. Now I haven’t been late on any payments but Amex went ahead and lowered my limit in Dec 08. I just ran a check on my credit rating and found that due to Amex’s decision to lower my rate. it also lowered my credit score by 12 points.
    I couldn’t believe what I saw. My balances are going down each month, I’m paying everything on time, but because Amex decides to lower my limit for what I believe to be unjustified reasons my credit score takes a hit?!? Now I find that they are raising the interest rates, when the prime is at the lowest rate that anyone has ever seen. Even at 9.99% or 10.99% Amex is seeing the largest margin spread for profit than they have seen in years.
    To me this is just plain profiteering, now during natural disastures, state and local authorities seem to be able to stop these kinds of things, so I would like to ask, where are the federal authorities when a company is doing this on a national scale? Passing laws that won’t take effect for 18 months?
    Congress can put a bill together and pass it in less than a few weeks that will give over $700B to the banking industry but they can’t put something together to protect the average citizen from companies like Amex in under 18 months?
    Okay, I’ve had my say, so I’ll step down from the soapbox now. Thank you all for listening.

    Comment by jds — Mar 1st 2009 @ 2:30 pm
  23. I’m so glad I found this site. At least now I know I’m not alone. We have owned a home and had credit cards for 28 years. We have (had?) a very high credit score. We have never had one late payment and have never missed a payment. Am Ex cut our credit limit from $28,500 to $500. Capital One changed our low, fixed APR to 15.9 variable. I’m dumping them all as soon as I can. Am Ex is already gone – we didn’t have a balance on their card. Transferred balance off Capital One. They were making some money on us – now they will make 0. Does that make business sense to you? Doesn’t to me. I’m getting my house in order and dropping them all. They need customers to survive. We don’t need them to survive. I’ve started a letter writing campaign – to CEOs, the President, etc. I don’t expect it to change anything but it sure makes me feel a little better. I thank all of you for writing so I don’t feel so alone in this mess.

    Comment by C. L. King — Mar 4th 2009 @ 8:35 pm
  24. I have been a loyal customer since at LEAST 2001. I pay my bills and have 4 different credit card accounts. I have an 800 credit score and my one card had a 50+K limit with a 6.24% rate. They now reduced my credit line to $49,400 and raised my rate to 9.24%. This decision was not based on ANYTHING that I did at all, and simply put I am pissed. I called and talked to an employee today and was told that they will not reduce it, AMEX made that decision to raise everyone’s’ rates. I of course asked for a supervisor as I charge over $100K a year with them and was told the same thing. It was like they didn’t care, they told me it was in my February statement. I do NOT want their terms, and simply put I will not be bullied like this. I called the NJ AG’s office, who referred me to the Office of the Currency Controller then they referred me over to the FDIC as Centurion Bank is not a National Bank. I will sue them if need be, and I think this will be the case. I am a Pro Se litigant and a very good one, but this is my last resort. I am a Bank of America card holder and stock holder and I love them, but my days with American Express are done. Here is your warnings folks and think twice before you use the company and I will not accept them as a business owner from this point forward. I am pissed, but I am a loyal customer if treated right, and they have in my opinion been erroneous in this decision. This is NOT over, you can google my name and see I have been successful even at the Appellate Level and even have a published opinion in NJ Pro Se on a Federal Case USC Title 47. Gary

    Comment by Gary E. Meyer — Apr 16th 2009 @ 3:28 pm
  25. 5/11 AMEX hiked my 9.9 to 12.99 and I have NEVER been late!!
    I called when I got my April bill and spoke to someone who was clearly overseas. Sent email, and more email, and all I get is sorry we can’t change it. GRRR! I’m writting letters, making copies and I’m going to keep mailing them once a week until I get attention and my rate put back PLUS a credit for the extra interest added!! BOO AMEX!!!

    Comment by Dannette — May 11th 2009 @ 7:59 pm
  26. My late payment section is considerably worse than what I’ve seen here… and that one affects me as there are times where I louse up and pay 24 hours or less late:

    “APR for Late Payment

    Effective with billing periods that begin on or after October 1, 2009, the first sentence of subsection C of the Finance Charges section of your Agreement is deleted and replaced with the following:

    ‘Notwithstanding the foregoing, unless a higher rate applies, the APR for all balances will be equal to Prime plus 23.99% if during any Review Period any portion of any Minimum Amount Due is not credited to your Account by its Payment Due Date.’

    This is a variable rate. As of August 1, 2009, the Prime Rate plus 23.99% is an APR of 27.24% and a DPR of 0.0692%.”

    Comment by Ryan N. — Aug 11th 2009 @ 12:13 pm
  27. Well, they’re doing it again. I got another notice in the mail saying another interest hike as of Oct 1,2009. Again, no late payments or anything like that, no changes to my credit file.. Hmm, I’ve got to start looking around.. now it’s up to 15.24.. last year before the first increase it was 6.99.. Does anyone know if the new changes can be opted out of?

    Comment by Jason — Aug 11th 2009 @ 1:00 pm
  28. I just called about the latest rate increase, and they said that there is no option to opt out. I will be notifying my state’s attorney general (which will do nothing but make me feel better.) This is absolutely criminal. I pay my bill online, so I’d like to figure out how to make AMEX pay my “American Express Payment Access Fee.” I think $15 would be about right.

    Comment by Dan — Aug 11th 2009 @ 7:28 pm
  29. I lost my job last year and I was living off my saving and paying all my bills on time when the credit crunch came and my $18,000 limit from Amex was reduced to just under what I owed which was $4,000 and my rate went from 9% to 12%. I had good credit and I was never ever late.

    At the time I was using my credit to help me get by until I found a job. After many sleepless nights with no job prospects around the corner and little credit and higher rates, I decided to make like a bank and get a bail out.

    I filed chapter 7 bankruptcy pro se (on my own) because I am just that broke and it is like I won the lottery and now my $32,000 in loans and credit card debt has vanished.

    Down side is my credit is shot, upside is, I realize that I was living beyond my means and it feels good to be on a cash basis now. My car is old and paid for and I buy only what I can pay for right now. I have actually still received some credit card applications in the mail since and I just throw them away for now.

    Comment by Bankrupted — Aug 11th 2009 @ 7:44 pm
  30. Ditto: I got a notice in the mail announcing an interest hike as of Oct 1,2009. No late payments or anything like that, no changes to my credit file.. now it’s up to 15.24% This stinks.

    I don’t have limos or a private jet to get me to Washington but PLEASE hear me Mr. President and Congress “I NEED A BAIL OUT!”

    Comment by J-Sav — Aug 12th 2009 @ 1:03 am
  31. Ditto with Amex. They said there is no opt. out. I have been a card holder with perfect credit since 1987. I’m done with them. Fed rate at 0% and they want 15.24%. Where is our congress to let this happen. Amex was one of the recipients of bailout money

    Comment by Dan D — Aug 12th 2009 @ 9:29 am
  32. I feel your pain. I have never been late with a payment, have outstanding credit and have been a very loyal customer of American Express. Months ago they lowered my balance from 18,000 to 9,000. Now they sent me a letter raising my interest rate starting 10-01-09 from 7.99 to 15.99. I called them and talked to a rep who said it is in my agreement that they can raise any time they want to and there is nothing i can do. Would like to join you class action suit. This is or should not be legal. Congress needs to get on the ball with this. They are now ripping off the people that pay their bills and are not behind on any payments.

    Comment by Tony M — Aug 12th 2009 @ 11:49 am
  33. I received my notice of interest increase from AmEx yesterday. Earlier this year I received an automated phone call from American Express notifying me of a decrease in credit limit on an account. I both wrote and called AmEx to state that I felt insulted by the impersonal contact. The “oh well” attitude I received caused me to choose to pay off the account in question (and yes, I too had paid on time consistently). To my horror, instead of using the bank number I provided, the representative used an old checking account to withdraw my funds, causing $105. insufficient funds fees! Since I did NOT authorize use of a former account, American Express paid the penalty fees, but I was outraged! I closed that account and paid-off the $8ooo. plus balance. Now my “other” AmEx account, which had a guaranteeded “fixed interest rate for the LIFE of the loan” now has a threat of interest increase on Oct. 1st, 2009. My letter, however, did not specify the degree to which my interest rate will rise…

    Comment by Ruth M. Alcorn — Aug 12th 2009 @ 4:42 pm
  34. We just got our notice of the hike in the interest rate and, of course, credit was cut some months ago. We
    only used AmEx at Costco so in addition to not using AmEx we are thinking about not renewing our Costco membership next year when it comes up. Is anyone else going to do that?

    Comment by G. Wilson — Aug 12th 2009 @ 5:22 pm
  35. You know, my wife and I just received our Amex notice in the mail yesterday. We, like many I have read, have paid perfectly the entire time our account has been open. We had a 6.99 rate from the gitgo. Several years back, after looking more closely at my Amex bill, I noticed they had raised our rate to 12.99. We called and they said the notice of the change was on the back page of our last bill and we had to ‘opt out’ within 30 days. I blew up and they reverted our rate back to where it originally was. This year, April I think, they raised it to 9.99 and wouldn’t budge when we called. I think we gave in to easily.

    Look, everyone, my question is this . . . why don’t all of us just tell this company where they can go. We only have a few options, contact our state reps., contact the white house directly, talk to a lawyer, etc. If all the Amex cardholders could somehow band together and refuse to line Amex executives( and their cronies) pockets and not pay their bill until these crooks back off and revert back to our original cardholder terms and rates. What would we really lose, anyhow?

    Our credit? It’s better than paying Amex a $1000.00 extra dollars a month. I know this sounds like, I don’t know, rebel rousing. But, if congress and the white house, (and I’m really disappointed with this one) and Obama won’t put a stop to this and actually turn a blind eye to these crooks . . . who will? Are we really just afraid to do anything because of what may happen and we just rollover every time some asshole decides to do something like this.

    Have we just gotten lazy and don’t fell like fighting for what’s right? We’re in a sad state if we just take this from American Express and deserve everything they want to stick to us. Thoughts . . . anyone?

    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Aug 12th 2009 @ 8:07 pm
  36. I just called American Express about my rate change from 9% to 15.9% with no late payments. I was told that I could do nothing to stop this but once the new legislation comes out I can stop any future changes, by canceling my card, without them again raising my rate.

    Looks like they won and got in before the legislation was implemented.

    Comment by P — Aug 12th 2009 @ 10:37 pm
  37. I just got the same letter. They’re hiking me up to 17.24% and no way to opt-out! I’m either going to pay off my balance asap and close my account or maybe I’ll just stop making any payments. Amex sent me hundreds of letters begging me to get their card and when I finally do, they treat me like they don’t even want to keep my business. I’ve never missed any payment on any of credit cards and usually pay more than minimum amount. I’m sick of this. It’s just another example of a well-intentioned law enacted by congress which is currently causing more problems than it’s helping.

    Comment by GS — Aug 13th 2009 @ 12:45 am
  38. This is ridiculous….why are they going after the little guy? This is penny wise and pound foolish. I will never use my AMEX card again.

    Comment by PB — Aug 13th 2009 @ 9:47 am
  39. Wrote Costco and told them I would no longer shop in their stores as a result of the Amex rate hike. I hope they drop Amex.

    Comment by Dan D — Aug 13th 2009 @ 9:50 am
  40. I’ve been a member for over 36 years. Never missed a payment, never been late with a payment, but they still arbitrarily raised my rates 3%. I e-mailed them to close my account. They could care less, it seems.

    Comment by Robert L — Aug 13th 2009 @ 5:01 pm
  41. Again, doesn’t anyone want to stand up to these exec’s at Amex and tell them to get there money from somewhere else

    What if all cardholders just stood together and refused to pay the increases and demand that our cards revert back to our original cardholder rates.

    Anyone got any ideas? A universal letter of some sort stating our refusal and demands. Is there anyone who is an Amex cardholder in the legal profession have any ideas or opinions on this?

    We could do this. It wouldn’t be easy, but it could be done. Isn’t everyone pissed at this? Comments? We’ve whined enough . . .what about some ideas.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 13th 2009 @ 5:14 pm
  42. I’m personally happy to just cancel my account, but I can see where you’d be in a different place if you couldn’t afford to pay off your account before October. Is a no opt-out increase really legal though? I wonder.

    Comment by Ryan N. — Aug 13th 2009 @ 5:16 pm
  43. Response to Ryan N.: I don’t really know if it is. It doesn’t seem like it should be. But, making you pay the new rate on existing balances doesn’t seem to be legal as well.

    I went to the White House site ‘http://www.whitehouse.gov/’ and posted my concerns about American Express there as well. Everyone should do the same.

    If you were accosted on the street and robbed . . . what would you do? Guys, we were just accosted and robbed for the second time this year by American Express.

    What should we do about it?

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 13th 2009 @ 6:30 pm
  44. Atten: Kenneth I. Chenault
    American Express Company
    American Tower C
    World Financial Center
    200 Vesey St.
    New York, NY

    Mr.Ken is chief bankster at Amex, I too had my Amex blue for a while and signed on in 2003 when the CONTRACT said 7.9 apr FOR LIFE as long as my account was in good standing. I always paid more than minimums, ALWAYS. I was NEVER late, EVER.

    They are in breach of contract now since my new rate will be 11.9 variable plus prime, which will soon be in the stratosphere thanks to a devaluing US dollar. I too was told there was no opt out on the phone. Capitol One had a opt out for their increase (same scenario) which I did. I guess bankruptcy (if the non-opt out is legal) is the only option for some of us. You could do a balance transfer, but those have stopped coming in the mail. I don’t get offers ten times a week anymore.

    I’m posting Mr. Ken’s business address everywhere. A few million letters a month might change the Tom Foolery over there at Amex. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. I’m going to my Attorney and discuss the matter with him……..

    Comment by Tim H — Aug 13th 2009 @ 8:03 pm
  45. This Labor Day organize demonstrations outside the empty offices of these credit card companies. Get the medias attention. Where t-shirts with your PLUS or FICO scores and rating “very good”, “excellent”, etc. on the back. On the front print your credit reductions, rate increases, etc. and name the cc company. Twitter it, facebook it, etc.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 13th 2009 @ 8:36 pm
  46. I Google’d “Kenneth I. Chenault email” and I got


    Let’s let him have it!!!!

    Comment by Dan — Aug 13th 2009 @ 8:39 pm
  47. 22 years with this company, and they really stick it to me, after begging me to transfer other credit card balances to their account with a low, fixed interest rate. I am done with Amex. I am working to get the balances paid off, and then I’m cutting em up. I own a small business, and we have always accepted Amex, but I’m going to stop. Every business owner who has been hit by this racket on their personal cards should do the same.

    Comment by Randy — Aug 13th 2009 @ 10:26 pm
  48. Same boat here. Just got letter yesterday. They raised my rate to 17.%whatever. I want to duplicate the letter almost verbatim and send back to the address above. Something like..due to the recent business and economic environment it has come to my attention that SOME CREDIT CARD COMPANIES are being really stupid. This is just poor business practice. More people will just default. I am so mad, I haven’t decided my response. It is just plain wrong. I am a Real Estate investor with high fico..not a dink on my credit. LET’S STOP THIS SOMEHOW.

    Comment by Catherine — Aug 13th 2009 @ 11:14 pm
  49. I e-mailed this to: ken.chenault@aexp.com

    Dear Sir

    I am a small business real estate investor. I have had many repairs on my properties in the last two years. I have had to use my credit cards. I have excellent credit. TODAY, I GOT A NOTICE THAT MY RATE WAS INCREASED TO 17.%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is just not good business practice. More people are going to default. If you do not keep my interest rate at at least 7% then I am going to post a notice on U-Tube encouraging all of your customers to simply default once the rate kicks in.

    PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING SIR. People want to pay their debts for the most part…but when you make it so that they can’t then THEY WON’T.


    Comment by Catherine — Aug 13th 2009 @ 11:47 pm
  50. Sent to ken.chenault@aexp.com

    American express has notified me of your intent to raise the interest on my account 3% not only on future transactions but on my current balance. You offer no “opt. out” option and say this is an accepted business credit practice that most other companies are doing. This is not accurate. I know of only one other company that is not offering an opt. out clause. I have been a card holder with perfect credit since 1987. I’m done with American Express forever. I have contacted all businesses that I do business with and notified them that if they maintain an affiliation with American Express I will not do business with them. To raise the interest rates on customers with excellent credit to make up for poor judgment on your part is outrageous. Fed rate at 0% and you want 15.24%. This is inexcusable when Amex was one of the recipients of bailout money. This is a large group.

    Comment by Dan D — Aug 14th 2009 @ 9:12 am
  51. To ken.chenault@aexp.com
    My wife and I just received notice that our AMEX credit card terms were significantly changing on current balances and we cannot opt out. While I am sure your attorneys have made sure this action is legal, it is certainly immoral. We have two “Blue” accounts and a “Green” that have always been responsibly maintained. I am paying them off and never using an American Express product again. If this is what you wanted then you succeeded but you have lost another customer. You take taxpayer money then gouge them in the free market. Amex is morally bankrupt and I can only hope that your actions cost you dearly.

    Comment by Mike — Aug 14th 2009 @ 9:59 am
  52. From Creditcards.com
    American Express was the only major credit card issuer that did not previously offer customers opt out options when rates were hiked. Come Aug. 20, that will change. AmEx is sliping some interest rate hikes in just in time to beat the Aug. 20 start-up of mandatory consumer opt out rights. CreditCards.com was contacted by several readers complaining that they had received notices of AmEx rate hikes that take effect Oct. 1, 2009, but that did not offer a chance to opt out. The readers questioned whether this was legal given the Aug. 20 effective date of the Credit CARD Act.

    According to the Fed, issuers that provide notices of interest rate hikes and other changes BEFORE Aug. 20 do not have to offer the right to opt out — regardless of when the rate hikes actually take effect. Any notices provided AFTER Aug. 20 must include information about opting out.

    Comment by Dan D — Aug 14th 2009 @ 10:40 am

    Comment by Catherine — Aug 14th 2009 @ 11:59 am
  54. I also have a increase from 10% to 15%. I have a perfect credit history and have been a member for 25 years. They wouldn’t co operate in negotiating a better rate. I paid the balance off and thru the card in my dresser drawer. They are getting away with way to much!

    Comment by STEVE — Aug 14th 2009 @ 4:28 pm
  55. I just received my letter from AmEx telling me that they are sticking it to me too. My question is – does anyone know if this change in APR is applicable to balance transfers too? I only opened this card with them because I was promised 3.99% for the life of the balance transfer. My letter doesnt address anything about balance transfers. This would increase my APR on that balance to 15.24% which is unacceptable. Like so many of the other responders here, I’ve never been late, always pay more than the minimum, and have never exceeded my credit limit. I just dont understand how they can legally get away with this. I’m not a lawyer, or anything close to one, but this has to fall in to some category similar to that of false advertising.

    Comment by Kris — Aug 14th 2009 @ 5:46 pm
  56. Ok, well I just called AmEx questioning any balance transfer fixed rate – they informed me that that rate would not change. The customer service rep shared a piece of good news – when the economy recovers the good folks at AmEx will automatically lower your APR’s. Ha! Sure they will. Good luck everyone. If anyone starts a class action against them I’d love to be a part of it.

    Comment by Kris — Aug 14th 2009 @ 6:20 pm
  57. Today, I received two notices from AmEx, regarding rate changes on a Blue account and an Optima account. Both notices stated that the rates would be changed from fixed to variable, and would be prime plus 11.99%, effective for billing cycles starting October 1, 2009.

    I have been a card member since 1988, and to my knowledge have never had a late or missed payment on any of the three AmEx cards I carry. Prior to today’s notices, I had what I considered very good rates on both cards.

    I called and spoke with AmEx customer service this evening, regarding the retroactive rate changes that are coming, and was told that there was nothing that they could do at this time, although they were still reviewing other options. I pointed out that the change in rate to existing balances as well as future charges was morally wrong, whether or not it is legal. The customer service rep commiserated but said that I could call back when I receive my billing statement after October 1, and they would try to work with me.

    On the Optima card, the rate change will effectively triple the rate I had been paying, and will take the interest on the outstanding balance from $110/month to at least $330/month.

    I have enjoyed being an AmEx card member for the past 21 years, but I cannot in good conscience use any of their products going forward. It makes no sense to me that a customer in good standing would be penalized for being a good customer.

    It will be a struggle to pay off the balance on the Optima card, with the usurious rate increase, but I will pay it off. I have taken all three of the AmEx cards out of my wallet, and will no longer use them for any purchases.

    Comment by Derek Penton — Aug 14th 2009 @ 6:38 pm
  58. You know, this is what we need to do, email this guy “ken.chenault@aexp.com” and write this guy “American Express Company, American Tower C, World Financial Center, 200 Vesey St.,New York, NY, 10285″ (thanks to Dan and Tim H.) and refuse the terms that were thrust on everyone.

    Then demand they go back to the terms of our original agreements. Not the last rate hike they imposed upon us, but our original “fixed rate” agreements and credit our accounts with the money they already made off of us.

    A letter which states our dissatisfaction with the way we have been treated and abused with the last two rate hikes, removal of all fixed rate accounts, and the change to a variable rate with no way to “opt out”.

    I don’t see the reasoning with some of the cardholders’ decisions to just close the account and that’s that. Can I pull cash out of my bank account and give to the Amex assholes? No. But, I guess I could cash in some other options and be done with Amex. But, then they are still getting away with this bull shit.

    What about the ones that cannot get the cash and are saddled with an almost doubling and yeah, because of the U.S. dollar, soon to be a lot higher.

    What about those cardholders. It is just not right how any company can use their so called ‘legal rights’, which they choose to reword and use to their advantage.

    But, it’s the contemptuous attitudes they have towards all of us and our trust in them. We did trust them and we took pride in paying our accounts on time, every month, usually more than the amount required.

    We need to tell this company that’s it, if they want a legal fight, then we all should be ready to give it to them, together . . . not as a single enity, but as American Express cardholders who were abused, mistreated, and spit on by Mr. Kenneth I. Chenault, and the rest of the executives with Amex.

    There has got to be some sort of legal precedent that can be attributed to Amex hiking the rates and changing to all variable contracts, without our consent or a way to opt out, just to get it in under the wire of the new credit card act which will soon go into effect.

    Are their any attorneys out there who are getting the shaft by Amex as well who could offer up some legalese to everyone? Let’s don’t let this happen. Let’s fight this crap. If for nothing else than to be able to cancel our contracts with Amex at our original rate agreements and pay these a–holes off.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 14th 2009 @ 9:36 pm
  59. I wrote the following letter to Ken Chenault at American Express and also am copying it to the House Financial Services Committe:


    I have been a very loyal customer and never been late on my account and always pay more than is owed on it. Recently, I was advised that may credit limit had been cut almost in half then I get a letter that I am being changed from a fixed rate to a variable rate from 6.99 to 15.99. To me this is a slap in the face and unacceptable. Your company took bailout money that I have to pay for, then Congress left it open for 18 months so that you can gouge your credit card members that have been doing good by the company.

    I called and talked to customer service and they tell me this is hidden somewhere in the fine print and there is no way to opt out.

    I am writing to the House Financial Services Committee because I elected them to make sure something like this did not happen. I will not vote for another incumbent till this is rectified. I will not use my American Express card ever again and it is already out of my wallet.

    This is amazing that in good faith you people can do something like this. A fixed rate is what it is, FIXED. If you look on creditaddict.com as just one site you really pissed a lot of people off. I have lost all respect for your company. I hope no one is looking for a bonus!!!!!

    Comment by tony m — Aug 14th 2009 @ 9:42 pm
  60. Just sent this email to Lou Dobbs:


    Recently, as I’m sure you know, American Express hike up their interest rates to 17.24%, closed all fixed rate contracts, and gave their cardholders no way to opt out of their “new” unsigned contracts with Amex.

    They did this, which they admit, to “get in under the wire” before the presidents new credit card bill takes effect next year.

    These are Amex cardholders who have been exemplary in their payment history with this company.

    This is just total and complete abuse of the American taxpayer during these extremely tough economical times.

    This site, http://www.creditaddict.com/, is where Amex cardholders have voiced their furor and distaste over how this company has chose to beat the system.

    Please have a look and see what’s going on. Some of the cardholders are talking bankruptcy as their only option out of these higher rates.

    This country is in trouble if executives at a company, such as Amex, decide to abuse, misuse, and beat the system and are allowed to do so.

    Thanks, Lou, for all the good you do. We appreciate it.


    Scott Sinclair

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 14th 2009 @ 9:56 pm
  61. Email to Ali Velshi:


    Recently, Amex notified their cardholders of a hike in their rates up to 17.24% or more, doing away with all fixed rate contracts, and no ‘opt out’ provision for any cardholder. This applied to everyone, regardless of their payment history or their present rate with Amex. Amex also decided that the new rate would not only be for future purchases, but all unpaid balances as well.

    Needless to say, cardholders are in a furor over this disgraceful treatment by this company. Amex representatives also, when contacted by a cardholder, freely admit that the rate increase and changes in the terms of the cardholders supposed ‘contracts’ with Amex are to “get in under the wire” before the President’s new bill is enacted to protect cardholders.

    Ali, go to this site, “http://www.creditaddict.com/”. This is one of the sites Amex cardholders are voicing their furor over the abuse, mistreatment, and Amex’s contempt of their cardholders rights.

    There is talk, on this site, from several cardholders that they will be forced to declare bankruptcy because of the changes American Express has enacted. There is also talk among the cardholders on this site of a united refusal to abide by Amex’s new terms.

    It’s interesting. Please check it out, Ali. Thanks


    Scott Sinclair

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 14th 2009 @ 10:24 pm
  62. Hmm. This is how it works. Have an excellent credit score. Pay your cards on time, work hard, invest wisely. KEEP A GOOD CREDIT SCORE. Then your credit card company…this time American Express, last time Capitol One.. I am lucky. I will just take money out of my retirement and pay off Amex.. who raised my rate to prime + 17.24. My options (**&^*) em.. and not pay my balance of 2k. Also encourage my friends that have 100k balances to not pay…but then our credit gets ruined…SOOOOOOO WHAT… They are no longer giving us anything for good credit anyway…Also, the system lowers our credit if we cancel our card…WHAT A STUPID SYSTEM..NO ACCOUNTABILITY. WE NEED TO KEEP FIGHTING THIS. IT IS WRONG AND WE WILL WIN.. AMEX AND ANY OTHER CARD COMPANY THAT DOES THIS IS GOING DOWN!!!!!!!!! I know I am passionate….but we are furious and we should be. I am going to keep writing and writing and telling my friends and telling merchants to not carry Amex…or Capitol One which did the same. THEY NEED TO SEND ALL OF THEIR CARD HOLDRS APOLOGIES..KEEP WRITING TO

    Comment by Catherine — Aug 14th 2009 @ 11:57 pm
  63. The Costco AMEX is raising their rates from 10 to 15%. This is a 50% rate increase and the same week that the Federal Gov. is not raising short term rates. This is supposed to go into effect in October. Of course I called and complained and was told they couldn’t change anything. I will complain to Costco then. Perhaps, I will not renew my membership. If you want to thank AMEX back, complain to Costco and threaten to drop membership and maybe they will just do to AMEX what AMEX has done to all of us.

    Comment by John — Aug 14th 2009 @ 11:57 pm
  64. Perhaps I will call AMEX everyday and ask for an opt out on the new 50% hike in interest from 10 to 15% interest. After all, its only toll free for me, not for them. Every day for several months. I have speaker phone.

    Comment by John — Aug 15th 2009 @ 12:10 am
  65. Credit terms will change … this is a given.
    But the terms of your contract are the legal bonds that we should talk about.
    The issue here is not rate increases… but if you were stated a “FIXED RATE” and it’s changing without cause at this time.
    Lets face it, with money being loaned to Banks at it’s CHEAPEST RATE IN HISTORY … these RATE INCREASES ARE WITHOUT CAUSE.

    Along the lines of last year… CITIBANK told it’s people not to use the word “FIXED RATE CARDS” any longer. I was told this on the phone by one of it’s representatives when I realized my FIXED RATE FOR YEARS had CHANGED and I called up to complain that I had a FIXED RATE contract not a Varible Rate ,,, and especially “not” a YOU can change me at any time you feel like it rate.

    I have had some of my credit cards for many many years… My AMEX Gold CARD is older then some of my friends….
    I don’t carry a balance on my AMEX …as it is a “”pay in full” at the end of month card.”
    I am grandfather’ed in on this .. NO INTEREST ON any CHANGES .. if the account is “paid in full” at the end of the month.
    I am glad AMEX has not tried to change that and for me I remain a customer of theirs.
    I can live with any changes to their rates that they may throw at me…

    The real problem is with Credit card companies that have had for YEARS ..offerring a “FIXED CREDIT CARD RATE” and have now optioned out to make them for Varible Rates …like this was in the understanding all the time… WELL IT WASN’T .. in fact .. It wasn’t even in the agreement.

    For all the past 10 years Credit Card companies have “teased” all of us “FIXED RATED CARD holders” with VERY VERY Low Variable APR rates .. Credit Card companies have put my 8% FIXED RATE Vs a Varible APR rate of 2%, 3 % , 4 and 5 % all in the last years past .. I never took it … cause I had a “FIXED RATE”

    I paid the slightly higher FIXED rate cause I knew new someday that this Low APR rate will not go on forever but my “fixed rate” should, as long as that Credit Card Company stayed in business..

    For many years … unless you faulted, your rate was fixed ( as it should have ) unless you screwed up .. then the rate went to 21 % or so..
    Hey… years ago the Police Bunco squad would arrest the “Loan shark” down the street for loaning you money at 21 % … but today it’s legal with Credit Card Companies…

    The money being given to the BANKS is “not coming out” at HIGHER RATES TO THEM… so what is the cause except more profit. Bonuses for the guys who pull this one off and the Higher profit rates that the Credit Card companies will obtain.. and all the credit card companies are all jumping on the same wagon..

    All the years I paid the HIGHER FIXED RATE vs the LOW VARIABLE RATE ( I could have opt’ed to ) should be paid back to me “AND PAID BACK TO ALL OF US” with interest, as they are now FORCING a Varible Rate Card on us, having PAID these higher fixed rates in years past … and money is still being given to the Banks cheaply .. The government hasn’t increase the rates that they loan out public money to these institutions, to loan back out to US.

    I am sure that there is a legal council that could pick up on this cause under this condition…
    What about all the extra money we shelled out to hold onto our FIXED RATE CARDS during Cheap Variable Rate years, only now to be forced into these new contract terms without “DUE CAUSE” … are there any living Johnny Conkrins still alive out there?

    Comment by Larry — Aug 16th 2009 @ 4:16 pm
  66. My email to Ken Chenault:

    Mr. Chenault,

    My wife and I received your organization’s letter concerning the second Amex rate hike within the same year. We are appalled by it. It is despicable how a company we have been with for a great number of years and have made our monthly payments on time could be treated in this fashion.

    Let’s see . . . a rate hike to 17.24% or so depending on the value of the dollar, changing fixed rate accounts to variables plus, imposing the new rate on the prior balances as well, and refusing to allow your ‘loyal’ customers no way to “opt out” on the newly imposed rate?

    When my wife and I decided to open our account with American Express, we did so based on the 6.99% ‘fixed rate’ and the reputation of your company. Years ago, a rate hike was attempted on us and when we called and informed your representatives that our rate was fixed, as per our original agreement, they withdrew the increase and credited our account.

    This year, your company’s representatives have been abrupt to the point of being rude while refusing to retract the hikes that were imposed. One of your representatives slipped and calmly stated this was Amex’s way of “getting all they could under the wire before President Obamas’ new credit card bill goes into effect in February.”

    Is an imposed hike based on information such as this and on the terms stated in Amex’s initial letter really legal? Would it stand up in court? I don’t know. But more importantly, is violating an original contract agreement with your loyal customers an appropriate way to do business? The internet is buzzing with discussions regarding your companies recent rate hikes and contractual changes.

    A lot of your “cardholders” don’t believe the new terms as stated by American Express are legal. There’s talk about testing the legality of what has happened. Some are talking of paying you off and closing their accounts, while some feel their only option is to file for bankruptcy. The consensus between a large number of cardholders is to refuse to pay anything to Amex to demonstrate their outrage over not only the new increases and changes in the Amex agreement, but also of the type of treatment loyal paying customers of yours are being given.

    Establishments that accept your card are being given notice that unless they suspend their acceptance of your card patrons will boycott their businesses. Our outrage over Amex’s way of treating their very loyal customers is being expressed widely across the internet. Several news programs are being notified, along with letters to members of state and national governments, including the White House.

    It’s disappointing to see how the greed of a company will take advantage of their loyal cardholders in these trying economic times. We, as many other Americans throughout the country, are feeling the stress of these particular times in our nations history. We’ve taken pride in our excellent payment history with American Express and felt honored to enjoy the privilege’s that come with being an American Express cardholder. We never gave a thought to your company, American Express, ever taking advantage of the country’s situation nor of ours.

    Sincerest regards,

    Scott I. Sinclair
    Winchester, Va.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 16th 2009 @ 8:28 pm
  67. My e-mail to AmEx customer service:

    08/15/2009 12:03 PM
    I have recently received notification that as of the billing cycle that starts after 10/01/2009, my Optima account will be changed from a fixed rate of 5.24% to a variable rate of prime plus 11.99%, which as of 08/01/2009 would be 15.99%.

    That change represents a tripling of the interest rate that I have been paying.

    In addition, this change is being applied to both existing and future balances, a business practice that while legal for the moment is abhorrently immoral.

    I have been a card member since 1988, and to my knowledge have never made a late payment.

    I am very disappointed in this turn of events. The trust that I had placed in American Express to act in an honest fashion has been betrayed.

    The response:

    08/16/2009 01:27 PM
    Dear Derek Penton,

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    I understand your displeasure regarding the recent changes made to your Cardmember agreement October, 2009 (increase in Annual Percentage Rates, increase in late fees etc).

    I know that you do not appreciate these changes after being a loyal American Express Cardmember.

    Please note that we are increasing the Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases and /or Cash advances on some card products to reflect current market conditions. These conditions include many factors such as competitive rates available in the market.

    The changes will allow American Express to continue to offer the exclusive benefits and world class service your card offers.

    I wish to assure you that this change is not specific for your Card account and in no way relates to your account history.

    We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause to you. We value the relationship built with you since 1988 and hope that you will afford us another opportunity to serve your Card needs.


    Email Servicing Team
    American Express Interactive Services


    Comment by Derek Penton — Aug 16th 2009 @ 11:44 pm
  68. So “YES WE CAN”? Where is he now? How is he helping us? Where is our President now?

    Comment by Jerry M — Aug 17th 2009 @ 10:24 am
  69. “GOOD CREDIT DESERVES GREAT REWARDS” is the statement that headlines the AmEx website. Tell me AmEx, how is this rate increase considered a “reward” for your loyal customers who pay you every month & pay on time? Based on their recent actions I think its time they consider changing that opening statement.

    Comment by Kris — Aug 17th 2009 @ 1:49 pm
  70. You’re right Kris!
    Same thing here, many years of paying off all my bills on time and without carrying over any balances.
    But you know what it is, if you pay on time they don’t make any money of you! That’s what hurts them!

    Comment by Jerry M. — Aug 17th 2009 @ 2:27 pm
  71. My letter to the President . . . the third one. A response was requested on all three. None on the first two, hoping for the third. My situation could be more critical than I previously thought. Here goes:

    President Obama,

    My wife recently lost her job on June 1st of this year. While it has been difficult, we have managed to make it so far while making adjustments in our lifestyle.

    But now, due to the credit card reform act signed by yourself, American Express has decided to doubled their interest rates on all cardholder accounts. This is the second rate hike this year.

    The first was barely acceptable at 3%, but now this recent hike is one we may not be able to handle. The rate went to 17.24% based on a varible prime on future balances and prior balances with no way to opt out . . . per American Express.

    This has all but finished us. We will be force to make a decision on whether to pay our mortgage, buy food and necessities for ourselves and our five year old, or pay double the amount to American Express.

    We have always paid on time and usually more than the minimum payment. We have had to use our card more than usual recently because of the present situation we have found ourselves in, but we have still paid on time and more than the required amount.

    We supported you and believed in you and your vision for our country. I thought the credit card reform act would benefit everyone. But because of this one act by this administration we could lose everything in a few months.

    It’s no secret on the internet chatter sites that American Express is doing this before this new bill takes effect in February. The cardholders are furious, worried, and wondering about any options they mave have. Legal options, non-payment, boycotting businesses who honor this card, and bankruptcy.

    One site in particular, “http://www.creditaddict.com/archives/american-express-amex-change-in-cardmember-terms-apr-rate-increases/”, is buzzing about the disgraceful act imposed by this company. Please check this out and help us in some way. I know there is alot going on, but we need some help here.


    Scott Sinclair

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 17th 2009 @ 7:49 pm
  72. Same thing. The customer service rept at Amex said I would never have to worry about this happening to me as it did with Citibank. Isn’t a verbal agreement binding? Where are the lawyers at? We need help with a class action suit. I urge all of you to send your letter to Amex requesting to opt out and close your account with the understanding that you will not be charged a new rate APR on your existing balance. If enough people do this, hopefully we can get enough attention to stop these unlawful practices.

    Comment by Bsmith — Aug 17th 2009 @ 8:17 pm
  73. opt out rules go in affect august 20th THIS year.


    So maybe we can opt out after that date :P

    Comment by Tim H — Aug 17th 2009 @ 8:44 pm
  74. File a complaint with the FTC. Net address is “https://www.FTCComplaintAssistant.gov/”.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 18th 2009 @ 6:07 pm
  75. Today I filed a complaint with the FTC. Suggest many of you do the same. The address is http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. We have to keep getting the word out about what they doing. maybe some legal people will pick up the ball and continue forward with it.

    Comment by Tony M — Aug 18th 2009 @ 8:32 pm
  76. American Express just explained to me that the increase in rates will not apply to my TWO Balance Transfers of 3.90% and 6.99%, BUT the interest on each is considered a “purchase” by AMEX and that interest is being charged interest at the new rate. They further advised that the payments they receive are first going to the 3.90% interest and then to the 6.99% interest before being applied to the interest charged on top of the interest accrued on balance transfers….how can THIS be legal? A think someone needs to start a class action suit given the above.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Aug 19th 2009 @ 10:37 am
  77. Thank you to Tony M who provided the website of FTC…I too have filed a complaint.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Aug 19th 2009 @ 10:48 am
  78. I agree with every one who has posted on this site. I have been a loyal card member since 1979, 30 years of never missing a payment, never being late, having balances over 100K and paying them off, paying outrageous membership fees for my gold card and membership rewards program but still standing tall with Amex. I have had all my accounts with available balances reduced that directly impacted my credit scores, and other opportunities to do business, had my interest rates modified from fixed to variable with increases on the Gold, Optima and Blue Cash card. Interest rate increases alone will add over 340 dollars to my monthly payments. My wife and I had a balance on our rewards account over 600,000 points – today it is zero and I have spent them for fear they will come after that also. I am so ready to default on all the cards but I know that will send my credit scores to the bottom and impact the remaining good credit I have. I worked at this company for 10 years during the late 80’s and early 90’s and was brainwashed about how important customer service is. These are different times and Amex has fallen into the crapper and care less about the card members that kept them going over the years. They are dirty players in the credit world; they have become a bank, used my tax dollars for a bailout and manipulated the legislation to their advantage. Just wait, prime is about to jump and Amex will ride a few more interest points out of us all.
    I will stay tuned to this web site awaiting that one post that gets us all over the line and hits Amex where it hurts. Until then I will write to Kenny C, my corporate office and encourage them to drop the Amex corporate card program, and a few news stations, hoping to get the answer, class action, intervention from some one some place.
    Ugghhhhhh …….

    Comment by Chris Russell — Aug 19th 2009 @ 11:30 pm
  79. My visa owned by Bank of America doubled its interest rates but only on future purchases, so I closed the account and my balance was fixed at the current interest rate. I called American Express hoping that I would have the same option, but they said the new interest rate will be on balance and future purchases. I am closing my account. I always liked American Express but what they are doing is lower than low. I don’t believe they need to do this. They are only doing it because they can. All this will come back and bite the credit card companies because people are going to learn to live with minimal credit rather than pay these ridiculous interest rates. Unfortunately, it will cause many people like me with high balances severe hardship.

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 21st 2009 @ 12:28 am
  80. I called Amex as well. Last week. Last year they reduce my available credit to $100 above the balance for no good reason. I was never late. No credit score change etc. It was something about too many foreclosures in my neighborhood. This changed my debt to credit ratio and dropped my credit score. Caused a ripple effect with other cards.

    It’s kind of like a nature show where you see a bunch of jackals or wolves hunting in packs. I called Amex and they said well your balance is not that high so it will only be a few dollars. That is not the point. I have not used them since they reduced the available balance and we had an agreement for that specific rate.

    The customer service rep said there is no opt out.

    Comment by Suzette — Aug 21st 2009 @ 9:19 am
  81. PS Ever wonder how much Amex has to pay google when the pay as you go Amex link on this site is clicked -the one right there under the first post?

    Comment by Suzette — Aug 21st 2009 @ 9:25 am
  82. I don’t know how class action law suits happen or if we have any legal rights, which we probably don’t, but I bet there are thousands of us who are pretty darn mad about this unfair percentage rate. The fact that they won’t let you opt out like the other companies is what really makes me angry. Since other companies are letting you opt out, I thought it must be some sort of rule. Otherwise, why would they let you! I’m rambling… just so frustrated!

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 21st 2009 @ 12:09 pm
  83. Was it not brilliant that the notices got out just before the 20th, and most customers did not even have time to open them much less figure out what they meant? No groups other than lawyers and bankers can come up with such devious plots.
    I plan to not charge on the cards and at least I can deprive them of the fees they derive from that source!
    I will pay them off if it is convenient, but if we encounter financial hardships, AMEX will be the first not to be paid! That would cost them about $50k.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 21st 2009 @ 2:20 pm
  84. This is a sample of an Email I just sent to the FDIC!
    They are the ones that approved the actions of AMEX and made it possible to screw cardholders by exempting variable rates and allowing notices sent before the 20th to not offer any “opt out.”

    The punitive rate increases being allowed by American Express are abominable and totally outrageous! Their actions have flown under the radar by sending out the notices just before the August 20th deadline and before most people had either not had time to read them or certainly did not understand the devastating consequences. Why is AMEX exempted from treating their customers fairly? I believe that they have accepted taxpayer dollars and that really angers me.

    Their customer service representatives in India or, Asia somewhere, are telling us Americans what our rights are. I am angry and so are a lot of other citizens.

    MR. BERNANKE, I thought that you were a competent and dependable chairman.

    Can you not look into the mess? A lot of Americans are being unfairly punished by these crooks! This type of penalization needs to be disallowed and reversed immediately

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 21st 2009 @ 5:18 pm
  85. I sent this email to Ken Chenault at AMEX earlier this pm! I just got a call from an assistant in his office.
    Very courteous! I got the idea that they are getting a lot of complaints! It also sounded like the more customers call, write and/or emai, the more likely they are to make some changes. SO, CALL ‘EM, WRITE ‘EM, AND EMAIL ‘EM. I THINK WE ARE GETTING THEIR ATTENTION!!!

    Your company’s recent choice of action may seem, smart in the short run and be very stupid in the long run.

    We owe your company nearly $50000 and pay as agreed. We will no longer use any of your products. What will you do if we just decide not to pay another dime? There are no debtors’ prisons in the USA, at least not yet. Your sending the notices of increases just before the 20th was evil. No one had any time to figure out what was going on. You bankers are so smart!

    You can raise our rates, but you cannot force us to continue to spend $3000 a month on your cards! We will at least stop generating that revenue for AMEX! In case you have not heard, there are 1000’s of customers who have figured that out and are taking the same action.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 21st 2009 @ 6:32 pm
  86. I have sent the following to the AMEX CEO as suggested by jbrare today and hope many more will do the same: ken.chenault@aexp.com

    Mr. Chenault,

    This comes from a nobody who happens to have enjoyed three different AMEX cards over many years, including a Blue, Gold and Corporate card. The recent notice received and subsequent conversation I had with Customer Service has convinced me that I can no longer afford to support a company that puts it to its customers.

    I owe $48K on my Gold card with another $3500 on the Blue. The Blue, is a combination of two transfers to low fixed rates. Your customer service representative told me that although the rates on these two fixed rate transfers will not be affected, the interest on them will. I asked for an explanation and was told that the interest is recorded as a “purchase” on which interest is charged at the new higher rate – I could not believe my ears; INTEREST ON INTEREST FOR A FIXED RATE TRANSFER? I think I have heard it all now.

    I am not closing my accounts as I realize that would adversely affect my credit rating, on top of the negative affect your establishment of a credit line maximum to my Gold card has caused. No, I will keep the cards open for a time, but I assure you, I will never charge another dime to the Gold and/or Blue cards I hold. I also intend to lobby at my company to change from the Corporate Amex to another card. If I am unsuccessful, I will cease using the corporate card and use another. American Express will only get the interest until I pay my balances in full.

    I am a nobody, one of millions of nobodies who are fed up with American Express.

    Jude Draper-Cocuzzo
    Manchester NH

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Aug 21st 2009 @ 6:58 pm
  87. I sent the following to Ken Chenault: ken.chenault@aexp.com

    I am one of a quickly growing set of people who simply cannot believe the recent actions of American Express. I currently enjoy a low, fixed rate on my American Express Blue Card, but now I am being told that my rate will skyrocket from a “fixed” 10.99% to a Variable Prime + 11.99% (Currently about 15.24%.) Worse yet, is that I have no option to “opt out” of this change. And, the timing of this change certainly seems like your company was trying to get this adjustment in “under the wire” before the August 20 deadline passed.

    I have several credit cards. At last check, my FICO was well above 750. I have never missed a payment, I usually pay more than the minimum, and I have never been even one day late. I even pay online, which lowers your cost of collecting my payment. Your company recently testified before Congress (right before you got taxpayer bailout money) that you don’t raise rates unless it is a response to customer actions, such as missing payments or paying late. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I really don’t see myself in that category.

    I believe your actions are grossly unfair, and that good card members are being punished for the actions of the bad card members. (Never mind the fact that a well-run company would not need a bailout to begin with.) Myself, and thousands of others, request that you leave our rates right where they are, as we are the people who have worked to deserve good credit, and low rates. I also ask that your next letter not be so obviously timed as to beat out an upcoming change in the law.


    I understand that Ken’s Office is actually responding to some of these letters, so let’s keep them busy!

    Comment by Dan — Aug 21st 2009 @ 8:36 pm
  88. I’m just plain defaulting then just before 180 days out (they write off the debt and sell it pennies on the dollar to a third party) they try to settle the debt with me for a fraction of the balance, it is in the contract. I’m done with it….good luck to the rest of you.

    Comment by Tim H — Aug 21st 2009 @ 11:26 pm
  89. C’mon Tim H.! You are the one that gave me the idea to try the email. Mr. Chenault’s assistant who called me back within two hours of my sending it told me that AMEX is monitoring customer feedback very closely.
    I am going to wait until after the new rates go into effect before I decide to pay or default on any of my accounts. I think for right now I will keep watching and harassing. I have an idea that AMEX does not want to rescind the increases and modify all the accounts that they just changed. The “squeaking wheels” may get some consideration.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 10:37 am
  90. My e-mail to Ken Chenault:

    Mr. Chenault:

    I recently received two letters from American Express, notifying me of changes in terms on two accounts, an Optima account and a Blue account.

    The letter concerning the Blue account announced that the terms would be changed from a fixed rate of 12.99% to a variable rate of prime plus 11.99%, which was quoted as being approximately 15.24% as of a date in August.

    The letter concerning the Optima account announced that the terms would be changed from a fixed rate of 5.25% to a variable rate of prime plus 11.99%, which again was quoted as being approximately 15.24% as of a date in August. That change alone represents a tripling of the interest rate on that account.

    These letters were received just before the August 20th implementation of portions of the new law related to credit card accounts. The announcements specifically did not provide for an opt out provision. The announcements specifically did state that the interest rate changes would be applied to both existing balances (retroactively punitive) and any future balances.

    According to what I have read in the news, during recent Congressional testimony, American Express stated that the company does not change terms or rates except in response to customer actions such as missed payments or late payments.

    I have been a Card Member since 1988, and currently hold three accounts with American Express: a Gold Rewards Plus, a Blue, and an Optima. To my knowledge, I have not missed a payment or made a late payment on any of my American Express accounts in recent memory, if ever.

    The interest rate being punitively retroactively applied to my existing Optima balance will triple the amount of interest I am required to pay on the existing balance. By any reasonable analysis, the actions taken by American Express can only be seen as punishment for customers who have operated in good faith, and a betrayal of the trust those customers had placed in American Express.

    Due to the change in terms, I can no longer continue to use your products. I have changed all of the automated charges that were previously being changed to American Express accounts to use another company’s product instead.

    As soon as I am able to pay off the Optima balance, there will be no further activity on that account.

    I regret that your choices have made this situation necessary. I have enjoyed using American Express products while travelling, and for everyday purchases. Were the terms of the contracts restored to the fixed rates previously in effect, I would consider using American Express products again.


    Derek Penton

    Comment by Derek Penton — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 11:41 am
  91. I know this must be easy, but I cannot find the email address of the BERNANKE…FDIC… Can someone give it to me please?

    I just fired out an email to Chenault voicing my displeasure with their arbitrary rate hikes and telling them that it will hurt the cardholders now but will ultimately hurt his company and the other companies that have decided to take advantage of this economy and hurt the ones who are hurting the most. Americans will remember and never seek credit with these companies again! Hopefully, we will return to the ways of the great generation who paid cash for everything. My parents even paid cash for both of the houses they had during their life and they were middle-class Americans. I believe my generation, the generation of the 60s, were the ones who started having to charge everything… immediate gratification… Young people today don’t have a clue and no of no other way of doing things. I never shopped at Kmart but since they have lay-away (another thing from the past), I think that is where all the Christmas presents will be bought next year:-)

    I hope that I won’t be too old to enjoy the change that I hope will come.

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 5:14 pm
  92. Jeanne,

    For Bernanke go to http://www.federalreserve.com. You can leave a message there for Bernanke! That is where I sent my message. I mistakenly said that I sent it to the FDIC in my post in regard to him. All this is making me dizzy! “The Fed” is the agency that has oversight of these processes according to what I have read.
    The FDIC has a separate website.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 5:34 pm
  93. A good credit score is meaningless if credit is unaffordable. I would rather have a lousy credit score and a full pantry then a good credit score and no food. Why become a voluntary slave? At 18 percent interest you will never pay off what you owe making minimums, so what’s the point?
    AmEx can go get bent. I’m done with the cretins. I sent them a demand letter along with what’s left of my card. I want my rate back to 7.9 retroactive from the last increase back in feb. or I am defaulting. Let them sue me. I don’t care, I still won’t pay it.
    I’m pretty sure all the rest of my cards will follow (capitol one already did). It will undoubtedly lead to an eventual chapter 7,11 or 13 but I’m tired of the game that our Gov’t in cahoots with the wall street banksters want us to play.
    Taxes are going to go through the roof. What about when cap and trade hits? What about the health care fiasco that’s going to hit? We won’t have money for credit card bills even if interest rates are zero. What follows is inevitable……

    P.S. The ENTIRE country is a high credit risk

    Comment by Tim H — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 7:32 pm
  94. If everyone is really serious about doing something (and since we haven’t had an attorney with an Amex card speak up yet) . . . let’s just refuse to pay any more money to American Express like Tim H stated.

    I agree with him 100%. I’ve had it with American Express. All those years of paying them faithfully. Successfully building up an excellent credit record with them and they do this.

    You know, if enough people protested in this way American Express should know that we are serious and willing to put up a fight for our “cardholder” rights. If they don’t then they are just plain stupid.

    How would this one particular act affect American Express financially? How many ‘cardholders’ are willing to go this extra mile?

    As far as the cardholders who could just pay Amex off and closed their accounts . . . do you really want to shell out the extra cash when you really shouldn’t have to?

    Paying off your account at American Express higher interest rate is stupid and an insult to your intelligence.

    If you do that, then American Express has succeeded in doing what they originally wanted to do and made all that extra cash because people decided to cave in.

    I will not cash in any of my retirement funds to give extra cash to American Express. It is just f—ing stupid and I am not going to do it.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 10:38 pm
  95. Part of me agrees with comments regarding stop paying on American Express balance. It sure would be nice to just stop paying them off plus other outrageous card I have with large interest rate. I wonder what it would be like to have money to live on because I stopped paying those bills. However, the purchases were mine. I cannot foresee why I would need good credit in the future unless I bought a car, but while I’m paying all my bills, that will never happen. I don’t know what to do. Guess I’m up a creek… Will continue to write and send emails to anyone and everyone though.

    So glad I found this website. So good to be able to hear and share.

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 2:37 am
  96. Jeanne, you have mirrored my own thoughts. To those who think they can just cease payments and all will be fine, you are biting the tail of danger. First, your credit will be in the toilet, which could affect everything in your future, including employment, insurance, as well as purchases. Then AMEX will have its unlimited attorneys file suit and they will win, because you did not pay according to your contract. You will not only have a judgement against you for what you now owe AMEX but it will now include attorney and court fees. If you own a home, it can be attached. Maybe you don’t care, but that gets paid first when you die…..before your heirs see their share. If you only owe a few thousand, oh well, but if it is nearer $50K like some of us, that is major. Our only true hope is to have the government step in which it won’t OR start a class action suit that will take years. With the latter, if successful, each of us in the class action suit would receive the interest overage we had been billed to date, or a portion of the settlement. I join you all in your pain and assure you I sometimes give up food to pay AMEX but as Jeanne said, they were charges I incurred. Wish it was as easy as stopping payments but if it was, everyone would had done that a long time ago.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 8:32 am
  97. I’m really pretty shocked that American Express would use a machete like this.

    I got the letter dated August 4th saying that they were going to a prime-plus variable rate on my Optima card; at the time, I had an available credit balance of $3,500.

    To reduce my exposure to the higher rate, I made a payment of $10,000. Two days later, I got an automated call (and the day after that an email) stating that my credit limit was being reduced by $13,000, leaving me with available credit of about $500.

    It’s clear that they are going to chase the balance down, reducing my limit as my balance goes down every $1,000 or so. If there had been an opt-out on the rate increase, I would have taken it, but now the balance chasing obviously makes the account useless to me. So I’m screwed either way.

    I always give a company’s regular customer service channel one chance to reverse a highly automated decision (which it always fails to do), then I go straight to the top.

    I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to pay my entire balance if I have to, which I will do if they don’t restore my original limit. Yes, that will ding my credit score if they they either reduce my limit to some ridiculously low number, or I choose to close the account. If they are going to do it anyway, then they aren’t getting another penny in interest from me.

    It will be the end of a long relationship that was convenient for me and profitable for them.

    Comment by Roger — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 1:30 pm
  98. Way to get angry everyone! Now continue to vent to AMEX, Bernanke, Congress, the O’Bama administration, the FDIc, etc.
    Compose a statement regarding the abuse, save and copy it, and then just fire it off to these entities! You can cover a lot of territory with just one message.
    The more they hear from us, the more likely something may be done to reverse these dastardly actions taken against us. DO NOT STOP CONTACTING ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET AMEX’S ATTENTION.
    If these changes can be rescinded, then a lot of the negative effects may be averted.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 4:47 pm
  99. Sorry, forget who, but one of this website’s commentors mentioned that they emailed Ken Chenault at American Express and got a phone reply. I just got a call from a very friendly ‘American’ lady who said she was from Mr. Chenault’s office replying to my email. I emphasize that she was ‘American’ because I learned one time that calls going to American Express during the weekends were directed to foreign offices. Anywho, the lady was courteous and said she was sorry and wanted to offer an explanation as to why they were doing this. I told her that I wouldn’t believe any reason that she gave. I thought I might get a phone call this coming week and was a little surprised to get one on a Sunday. I wish there were a way to reach other American Express cardholders. This website is wonderful!

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 5:02 pm
  100. I agree that the charges on my card belong to me and anyone else who used the card.

    However, those charges were at an interest rate which I agreed upon when Amex offered me the blue card.

    I have no problem paying American Express what I owe. But, I only owe my balance at the original rate.

    Not at the jacked up rate Amex is forcing upon me, especially on my prior balances.

    I don’t really care what the rate is on any future balances might be.

    They can hike it up to 100% for all I care about. I’m through with American Express.

    So, I disagree with both of you. Sorry, this is what American Express is counting on.

    People feeling they are stuck and have no choice but to pay what American Express dictates you pay.

    It’s a sad world we live in, isn’t?

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 5:10 pm
  101. Firstly, I owe Amex $24,300 on an Amex Blue…and I am leaving it that way for the forseeable future. My current rate is 6.24% and has been since I opened the account in 2003. I also have a signature Gold card with the company I work for. I don’t own the company. My company pays the Gold card, but I have access to the unlimited line that gets paid off monthly. Maybe that gets me extra points with Amex. On August 18 I received a letter from Amex in regular USPS. The letter is dated August 6, 2009. My letter reads the same as many posted here regarding late fees, no over the limit fee etc, however my rate increase will go from 6.24 to 10.24. I see many of you are starting at 10% and higher and are going to 15 to 17%. In February my Amex Blue credit limit was reduced from $30,000 to $25,000. My balance was $4700.00. I immediately charged up the card with every purchase that I would normally make with check cards, cash, other credit cards etc to get to the limit- $25,000. I figured I had a good rate and would hoard the cash while carrying a balance. Since then I have charged $1000/mo and paid $1000.00/mo on the Amex Blue. The minimum payment required as per my billing is $625.00 so “technically” I am paying more than the minimum every month. So far this has kept Amex off my back…but now I’ll have to decide if I want to pay 10.24%. I’m pretty sure 10.24% will simply be the beginning of Amex’s manuevering, but maybe they are making enough on me to leave me alone. My credit score has gone down the past year to 709-730 depending on credit bureau (having a balance too close the the credit limit doesn’t help my score, but I figured I rather take a hit on credit score than suffer through a bad economy/credit crunch without access to cash) I just read all 97+ comments posted prior to this one. I had Googled “Amex rate hike” hoping to find this discourse. Prior to reading the comments I believed I was in a worse position than I am. After reading them I am more disgusted as our ability to respond to Amex is currently weak at best. Maybe the way I am using credit is hurting you, but I imagine there would have to be many of me (people hoarding cash) to truly affect a company as large as Amex. I believe as Roger (comment above) found out- that as soon as I pay down my balance, my credit limit will follow…so for now I’m keeping the cash I took off my Amex (originally at 6.24) in an account bearing 3.49%. I’ll ride this market a bit further, make sure my job is secure and then make some decisions in 2010-2011. One decision will be to say goodbye to Amex…they may be beating me in the short term, but in the long term I hope my plan works to my benefit. Jude Draper -comment #86, best to you…I totally associate with your story and coments.

    Comment by George — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 5:49 pm
  102. S.Sinclaire,

    I understand what you are saying. I’ve been spending the last few days thinking of little else. I guess I’m not over the disbelief. I almost signed up with a debt relief place but decided against it at last moment. I applied for a loan, which, as it turned out, the interest rate wouldn’t be much less than AmEx’s new rate. I’m debating when to close my AmEx account. Not sure what to do. Just so angry that AmEx won’t let us opt out. I, like you, don’t care about future purchases because there won’t be any!

    I just put this website info on three conservative websites that I belong to trying to get the word out. Reading what you and others have to share has been a great help to me.

    I have emailed all the places suggested by commentators on this website. I am trying to think of other agencies, etc., that I can write.

    I haven’t given in yet!

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 5:50 pm
  103. Here is a link to a PDF document which is the Testimony of Larry Sharnak, Before the House Financial Services
    Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Hearing on H.R. 5244, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 – April 17, 2008.

    Please include this link on any email or letter you may send concerning AMEX’s current rate hike announcement.

    Pay special attention to the bullets on PAGE 5.


    Either he lied to Congress, or Amex is lying to us.

    Comment by Dan — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 6:17 pm
  104. Jeanne and all who respond on this site,

    My wife says that I am on this site too much, but I like the conversation on this one versus others. I also felt at one time that the cardholders on this site were serious about standing up to Ken and AMEX over this insensible act by them.

    I, too, have sent emails to various organizations, including filing a complaint with the FTC, hoping to raise enough awareness over how this act by Amex is in the same league as Enron, AIG, and other companies who have cheated the American people.

    Obviously, this site is only one among others where cardholders are speaking out about the despicable way American Express has “rewarded” their once loyal customers.

    There were times, and I hope still are, in this country when people would stand up for an injustice enacted against them. I truly feel this is one of those times.

    It doesn’t really matter if you have the ability to pay your particular AMEX card off or not! THE POINT IS YOU ARE PAYING FAR MORE THAN YOU AGREED TO AND AMERICAN EXPRESS IS CRIMINALLY WRONG IN DOING THIS! Doesn’t anyone get this.

    Fine, so “our ability to respond to Amex is currently weak at best” (per George). So, we just cave in and let Ken and his AMEX board members ride all over us.

    Let them profit from our fear of getting a bad credit score or losing in a court battle . . . or both, while Ken and his execs enjoy a vacation wherever Amex sends them on the profit they turn from taking our money.

    Then why don’t we just email Ken and ask him if there is anything else we can do for him or we already doing a good job of kissing his a– ?

    I mean, lets get real, if truly ” our ability to respond to Amex is currently weak at best” (sorry, George) and everyone else who is rightfully and justifiably pissed is just going to bite the bullet and do whatever AMEX sends in the mail to us . . .

    Then everyone is just wasting their time emailing Kenny and his boys about how furious we are about American Express screwing us.

    Do I have the answer as to what to do about this? Probably not. Could all the Amex cardholders pool their resources, contacts, and network enough to come up with a feasable plan of action?

    I think so. What does everyone else think? Yeah, I guess I am pissed. This is not right. Just plain and simple, it is not right.

    Ken, my phone number is 540-664-2339. Call me . . . but, I’m sure you know what I am going to say.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 23rd 2009 @ 8:38 pm
  105. I called AMEX yesterday to cancel my subscription to Food and Wine magazine, which they publish.

    The first thing the CSR asked me was if I was calling about the recent rate reduction. I said no, and she said that she would transfer me to another CSR to cancel the subscription. But first, she asked, would I like to know why my line was reduced? Sure, go ahead.

    So then she reads off the list; it was like getting a spanking, lol. It was basically all of the things that get listed on your FICO summary as reasons why your credit score isn’t higher.

    She gets to the end of the list, and then says that the decision can be reviewed, and did I want to initiate a review? No, I said (because I’ve already started the process). Then she transferred me to the other CSR who canceled the magazine subscription and said they would be crediting my account for the full yearly subscription price.

    Anyways, the point of this post is that here is my take on what’s going on, and while I appreciate and share people’s anger, there is a chance that you can at least get your limit increased (although I have not completed that process yet).

    Here is what is going on:

    AMEX has millions of accounts. Obviously it’s impossible for them to review all of them individually, so they set up a bunch of criteria, plug it into the computer, and whammo, mass executions.

    Now I would agree that whoever set up their criteria cut way too wide a swath, but that’s water under the bridge for now. They are not going to restore everybody’s limits in an automated fashion, and I doubt very much that they are going to lower anybody’s rates.

    If you want to have your limit restored, you are going to have to contact them, and probably provide income information. I went through this with another card several months ago when I attempted to do a balance transfer. They had made a good balance transfer offer so I paid off my entire balance, and then initiated a transfer which got rejected; I had to tell them what the source of the funds for the payoff was, and also what my gross income on my 2008 tax return was. All of this was done on the phone; I was not required to fax them a copy of the tax return (I did give them an accurate number). They restored my original limit.

    So while I encourage everybody to give AMEX hell for how they are executing this, I also encourage you to contact them if you are interested in having the decision (at least partially) reversed. It sounds to me like they are geared up to do it. You probably won’t be able to opt out or otherwise get out of any rate increase, but you may be able to at least get your line of credit increased to help out with the ratio thing.

    Comment by Chuck — Aug 24th 2009 @ 5:59 am
  106. Keep contacting K. Chenault!

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 24th 2009 @ 10:39 am
  107. Dan/#103 – Thank you for information. Certainly very informed people commenting on this website.

    I’m curious how many people have been calling AmExpress. Wishful thinking I suppose, but I hope they are sweating and that perhaps they are concerned about possible consequences of their questionable interest rate hike with no opt outs. One can only hope they’ve messed up breaking some rule or law and it will eventually come out.

    I’m just a financial nobody, no ‘blue card’, just pay early and more than the minimum, but will continue to make my voice heard.

    Comment by Jeanne — Aug 24th 2009 @ 1:04 pm
  108. Thanks to Dan above,

    I sent Mr. Chenault a copy of two pages of testimony by Larry Sharnak, AMEX VP, given to Conress in April of 2008. I will await his response. I had questioned him in an earlier message as to whether or not similar testimony had been attributed to him.
    Below is the message:

    Mr. Chenault,

    Possibly, it was Mr. Sharnak whose testimony is being attributed to you. I have enclosed a copy of the testimony as recorded in government records below. Is that possible even tho his testimony does state that the AMEX bases rates on individual histories!

    Perhaps the source is misquoted, but the message is from AMEX!

    Mr. Sharnak did testify that at AMEX “we do not increase an individual customer’s rate–or APR– for any reason other that the customer’s performance on that particular account.”

    That is directly from the Congressional record unless I mistyped it.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 24th 2009 @ 7:40 pm
  109. My email I sent to Ken addressing Mr. Sharnak’s testimony. I added the complete testimony to the email as an attachment. Everyone should do the same.

    You guys on this site are fantastic. It has been a pleasure. Sooner or later we will get the point across. One way or another it will happen.

    Let’s keep it going. Don’t let up or give up. We’re right in this.

    Mr. Chenault,

    MY wife and I have always paid you company on time. We were never have been late in our obligation to you and we usually paid more than our minimum due.

    But, to raise our interest rate from our well earned and equally deserved 6.99% fixed is a very crude and unprofessional way to do business.

    American Express has clearly reverted to the disreputable methods of loan sharks and their ways of treating their loyal customers.

    Point of interest to you and your business associates . . . all of you should reread Mr Larry Sharnak’s testimony before congress on behalf of American Express.

    His testimony(I’m assuming it was honest ?) succeeds clearly in showing the act which American Express did to their “loyal” cardholders even more detestable .

    Congratulations, oh and by the way, pay particular attention to bullet point’s on page five of Mr. Sharnak’s testimony before Congress.

    “GOOD CREDIT DESERVES GREAT REWARDS”. Man, you guys really lived up to that one.


    Scott. Sinclair

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 24th 2009 @ 9:03 pm
  110. Below is the complaint I sent to the FDIC this PM.


    American Express is raising interest rates and changing fixed rates to variable ones!

    They have ambushed 1000’s of good paying customers with notification letters just prior to 8/20/2009, the deadline for doing so. The increases amount to at least a 25% increase in rates as of the October billing cycle. Amex is providing no “opt out” and says that it will apply these inflated rates to not only new charges, but also current balances!

    They are doing this without regard to a customer’s pay history which is a practice that their VP Larry Sharnak testified that Amex did not do! This was his testimony before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Hearing on H.R. 5244 during hearings held on April 17, 2008.

    The current actions of Amex are in direct violation of this statement as 1000’s of customers are being penalized without ever having violated their customer agreements by paying late. Amex’s current actions are an unfair attempt to exact usurious gains from the customers who have not contributed one iota to any financial woes suffered by Amex.

    The current actions seem to show that Mr. Sharnak either perjured himself before Congress or that his company has changed the approach to the fair treatment of customers without alerting the Congress of their plans to implement such changes!


    Requested Resolution

    Require Amex to abide by the very testimony that helped pass the “so called” Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act. Do not allow them to increase account rates without due process and failure of the individual customers to have not fulfilled their customer agreements by paying late or for other just cause. Require that all customers who have upheld their obligation to Amex be allowed to “opt out” and pay their balances off under the terms that existed prior to August 20, 2009!

    Thank You!

    Hope this is helpful if anyone else wants to contact the FDIC!

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 25th 2009 @ 4:12 pm
  111. I should have listed the FDIC website. It is


    Comment by jbrare — Aug 25th 2009 @ 5:03 pm
  112. My rate is changing from 10.24% to 15.24%. Which totally stinks.
    My credit limit is $14,400 and I only have approximately $3,700 on my card. They did not lower my credit limit. But my husband has a card with a different company who lowered his limit to about $100 more than the balance on the account. It was a card he was actively using and almost accidentally went over the limit. MY card I wasn’t really even using and was just paying it down so it would have been pointless for them to lower my limit. They are probably thinking that in MY case, they will do better if I spend more and then maybe accidentally make a mistake such as a late payment or something. But as for my husband, they almost got him with their “lowering his limit” strategy. I think they all just strategize about what changes will get them the most money. … And obviously this APR increase is working out for them. I (like everyone else) hope they get busted. I was a very loyal fan of my amex card. It was my favorite. …Not anymore. I will be paying off my card as soon as possible. We’ll see how well they do losing all their best customers!!!

    Comment by tracyo — Aug 25th 2009 @ 6:10 pm
  113. Hi everyone,

    I did receive a call the other day from my email to Ken Chenault. They told me what I expected they would. Wish I would have heard about the Sharnak testimony before that. I sent emails out today about the Sharnak testimony to the FDIC, FTC, Federal Reserve and the House Financial Services Committee with the link for Mr Sharnak’s testimony. I asked them to review this testimony for the bailout money compared to the practices the company are now using lowering limits and substantially increasing rates. I suggest you all do the same. All the links are in the posts on this site.

    Comment by tony m — Aug 25th 2009 @ 8:14 pm
  114. I, too, will send an email to the FDIC. I have already filed with the FTC. I’ll send one to the Federal Reserve also.

    I’m thinking if we could get a spot on CNN. Don’t laugh . . . I think this is possible. Dobbs, Brown, etc.

    I’m thinking along the lines of Jack McCafferty. He would be great with this. Anybody willing to try this out?

    Let’s don’t slow down on this. We’re in the right.They think everyone will just get fed up and walk away.

    It’s not happening with me.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 25th 2009 @ 9:29 pm
  115. Yes a spot on CNN would certainly help get the message out. Maybe come up with a letter to one of the hosts of your choice and put an online signature so other people can sign it like they do with the online petitions and maybe he will do a spot and research Mr Sharnak’s testimony and see why the company has gone a totally different route after testifying and taking the bailout money. We should also be allowed to opt-out after the 08-20-09 opt out took effect.

    Comment by tony m — Aug 25th 2009 @ 9:56 pm
  116. I will be glad to sign a protest petition to anyone regarding AMEX’s attack on the people who have been their life’s blood. Developing such a petition is way above my expertise, but I will sign it!

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 26th 2009 @ 12:25 pm
  117. My rate went from 7 percent to 27 percent for one late payment I made.

    Comment by Jason D — Aug 28th 2009 @ 3:33 pm
  118. I hope all this chatter about what has happened to Amex cardholders has not come to an end so soon.

    Sometimes, once all the anger is out and the initial outrage has been voiced . . . people tend to have a resignation about what happened.

    In other words, humans tend to accept what has happened and will live with the result . . . good or bad. In this case . . . bad.

    American Express and Ken Chenault counted on it. In that case they will have succeeded.

    With a smile on their faces and all that extra money in their pockets . . . they’ll be laughing all the way to their banks.

    let’s go guys . . .

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 28th 2009 @ 7:18 pm
  119. I am also a loyal AMEX customer and have been for years, never late and was shocked to receive their letter increasing our rate to 15+% variable from a fixed 10.99% rate. I had a Capital One card but that at least had an opt out option. I feel so betrayed by a company that I have been a loyal customer to – I read the following on the Boston.com site
    “8 benefits of new credit card rules

    By Leslie McFadden , Bankrate.com
    1. Retroactive rate increases
    Takes effect: August, 2009

    Issuers can’t raise rates on an existing balance unless a promotional rate expired, the variable indexed rate increased or you paid late by 60 days or more. No longer will they be able to punish borrowers for late payments on unrelated accounts under the practice of universal default or due to “anytime, any reason” clauses.

    If the cardholder does trigger the default rate because of a 60-day delinquency, the bank must restore the lower rate once the cardholder demonstrates six months of consecutive on-time payments.

    In general, rates can’t be raised in the first year after issuance, and promotional rates must last at least six months. Exceptions include expiration of a promotional rate, termination or completion of a workout plan, a change in the index rate or a 60-day delinquency.

    Caveat: Issuers can raise rates at any time for any reason on new balances with 45 days’ advance notice. Cardholders will still need to read correspondence from their creditors.”

    Can anyone interpret this with regard to our Amex situation – thanks.

    Comment by DIane O — Aug 28th 2009 @ 7:54 pm
  120. S. Sinclair,

    I am still here and still sending emails and letters. I agree with you that abused customers must continue to harass AMEX! I for one will not cease until they retreat from their latest attack. KEEP THOSE COMPLAINTS GOING TO AMEX, CONGRESS, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, THE FDIC, THE FRB, ATTORNEYS-GENERALS, THE NEWS MEDIA,ETC.

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 29th 2009 @ 10:43 am
  121. S. Sinclair and eveyone else,

    I am going to suggest that eveyone start sending info to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC! Her website is rachelmaddow.com or she can be contacted via a link on msnbc.msn.com. I think that she is just anti-establishment to look at this.
    If everyone will contact her, it cannot hurt. I suggest that we all send her the info on the changes that AMEX made, how they made them, the testimony of their VP Larry Sharnak before Congress in April 2008, etc.
    I cannot do it today since I am at work and these sites are blocked, but I can sure do from home tomorrow.
    Just a couple of “copy” and “paste” sessions and we can all ask her to investigate this.
    She is great when it comes to supported the underdogs!

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 29th 2009 @ 11:13 am
  122. This is the easiest link that I have found for any government site. It was originally listed by Jason back in 2008.
    This is Barney Frank’s committee. If everyone on this site sends a complaint, by Monday morning the committee would have a lot to read!


    If you just do nothing then so will the usurious vultures at AMEX and all the other financial bullies!

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 29th 2009 @ 2:24 pm
  123. Dianne O. – I think a couple of things apply, but not much else. It’s interesting though. I am going to check out that site in your e.

    jbrare – I’ll do an email to Barney Frank and I’ll compose an e to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. But, I’ll wait for you, so we can brainstorm a standard email for everyone if you’d like.

    To all cardholders;

    Jack Caffertys email is ‘caffertyfile@CNN.com’. I know there is a lot of news going around lately thats important in its own right. But, so is this . . . agreed?

    We need to bring attention to Amex, Sharnak’s testimony, and how they squeezed this rate hike and new rules in under the wire of the reform.

    We need to list the interest changes, their forcing us into a variable rate when, I’m guessing, most of us had a fixed to begin with, stating the interest rate on not only the future purchases . . . but more importantly, our existing balances.

    Also, Amex’s refusal to let us ‘opt out’ and close our accounts at our old interest rate. Did I leave anything out? Comments or feedback?

    There was a lot of chattering from so many cardholders in the beginning. Did anyone find a way around American Express’ forced interest rate hikes on us and are not sharing?

    C’mon everyone . . . they’re only a screwed up company. Screw them . . . lets go. We are right in this!!!

    You know it and American Express knows it. They’re wrong. They’re cheating everyone. Let’s do this . . . now?

    Scott Sinclair

    *** One other thing . . . like jbrare said . . . keep sending those emails to everyone and especially flood Ken Chenault and American Express. Also, send this sites address: http://www.creditaddict.com/ar.....increases/ to other sites.

    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 29th 2009 @ 5:28 pm
  124. S. Sinclair and everyone else,

    I did not keep a copy of the email I sent to Barney Frank as I did that several days ago. Today I just went to HFRC website listed above and relayed the information about the notices, the VP testimony, this website address, the public outrage, etc.
    It was kinda like the sample above that I sent to Rachel!
    I should have made a bigger point about the variable vs. the fixed rate changes. Do not understand how you can have a set variable rate! Mine has not changed in years. The interest statement is not clear to me as to what portion is fixed and what portion is variable.
    My CitiBank card show an “F” for fixed, but no such clear disclosure on the AMEX bill.
    Sorry I did not keep a copy, but you are all welcome to copy and paste from what I sent to Rachel and sent that to Barney Frank. Whatever you choose to do, it needs to be done before Monday. I will be away from my computer tomorrow, but will try to check the site from home!



    Comment by jbrare — Aug 29th 2009 @ 6:20 pm
  125. I have just been sent to the site provided for the Finance Committee on behalf of all of us, providing the link to this site so they may read the issues from each of you. I trust each of you will also send to this committee. Again, the site is:

    This is not all new though. The June edition of Reader’s Digest had similar concerns from American Express Cardholders….we are not alone and if this has been going on since June, I am concerned that nothing is going to be done about it, except on individual basis as each of us may decide. Good luck to all.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Aug 29th 2009 @ 9:35 pm
  126. Nothing may get done at all, but I am not going to cease to try! There are nearly 100 comments on this site since the first of August of this year. There are millions, I bet, that will join in on this if they just know the facts about what has actually gone on!
    We have not used any of our three AMEX cards since the notices arrived and will not in the future until this is resolved to our satisfaction! We have not closed them, but not our not using them is costing AMEX money. I know that they are not going to notice one customer’s stoppage of usage, but if enough of us stop and let them know why we stopped it might be noticed!

    Comment by jbrare — Aug 30th 2009 @ 4:30 pm
  127. Okay, let’s start with what Jude Cocuzzo suggests . . . all cardholders email:


    Now the only way, and I mean the only way, this will get some major momentum is for every cardholder to state and plead his or her own case.

    A standard form email will not do. This has to be from the heart and mind of each cardholder to the House Financial Services Committee telling them what American Express did to each one of us.

    No bad language, no calling names, no reiterating how ‘pissed off’ everyone is . . . that’s understandable. Just tell the plain facts and truth.

    American Express did this to make money . . . period. They saw an opportunity and took it. They knew what they did was wrong.

    Even to the point of being criminal, but they bet against any cardholder really raising to much of a beef or carrying the protest too far.

    I’m 100% positive they believed their cardholders would just rollover and play dead. Give up and resign themselves to the fact that they got screwed.

    I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to play dead for anyone. I’m angry that American Express would treat loyal cardholders this way. It’s wrong.

    I’m tired of the so-called executives that run companies like this thinking they can control our lives and dictate what we owe them just so they can become richer.

    I’m furious because American Express saw a loophole, at our expense, and rewrote our original contracts so they could skate by the new credit cards laws before they became effective.

    Now it is time for us to do something about it. We need to not only respond to the site Jude C. provided but the other sites that have been provided as well.

    Everyone needs to get the message to other cardholders sites as well. The more sites that know what is going on at this site the more other cardholders can join in with us to.

    We really need to come together as one. An online petition stating what Amex did and signed by all American Express cardholders would be great.

    Then we could gather enough signatures and send that out as well to the news sites that already have been posted and to those that haven’t.

    If everyone spends 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day sending out and stating our case it could really amount to something. But, every cardholder has to do it.

    Think about how much fun and the personal satisfaction you would get just by putting a company like this against the wall. Is it worth it now? It is for me.

    Don’t misunderstand me . . . I want to pay what I owe to American Express. It is my debt and I wholeheartedly accept it.

    But, and this is a major “but,” . . . I only want to pay what I originally agreed to . . . period. I hope everyone agrees to that because that’s the way it is.

    So let’s continue to contact everyone anyone can think of, post site addresses on this site and other sites. Do it even if its has been posted before. Someone may not have seen it.

    Let’s go on this. We are right on this and they, American Express, are definitely in the wrong.


    Comment by S. Sinclair — Aug 30th 2009 @ 5:11 pm
  128. Hi all, I too recieved the APR rate hike letter in the mail last week. Ive written several emails through Amex’s account website, only to get the run around from some India type person over seas. Today I called Amex and like most of you was told “it was too late to opt out since the letter was mailed before the Aug 20th deadline”. I told the Amex rep that I thought Amex was being very shady and out of anger, closed my account. I owe over 20k, have never , ever been late, and always pay more than the minimum. I have never even entertained the thought of not paying what I owe to anyone, but Im actually considering defaulting on my AMEX account after the OCT 1st rate hike. I feel like, if the arent gonna play by the rules, why should I? I also know that there is strength in numbers, and that if everyone defaulted, Amex would have to change thier game plan. Any Ideas??

    Comment by Scott from ca — Aug 30th 2009 @ 10:05 pm
  129. Scott from CA
    Before you default, consider the consequences as it does not matter how many of us stop making payments, AMEX has a large legal staff who will gladly guarantee their employment by suing each of us. If you fail to make a payment you are giving them just cause to raise your rate again, to send a demand letter, to take you to court, to get a judgement because you do not have a legal reason for stopping payment, and the outcome is you owe what you owe now plus legal fees, you get a reduction in your credit score and your credit report will show all of the above. You cannot win by ceasing to make required payments. Our only hope is to stop Amex through the media and government if in fact, there are any laws broken. Make noise, tell your story, but keep making the minimum payments…..take care of You, because they will stick it to you otherwise.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Aug 30th 2009 @ 10:16 pm
  130. Thanks Jude, I was just venting, Im actually gonna take out a low interest debt consolidation loan and pay Amex off. At least that way I can never give them another penny, thanks Scott

    Comment by Scott from ca — Aug 31st 2009 @ 12:17 am
  131. there’s a valid reason why amex is doing this. i just found it so funny that everyone is immediately deciding to payoff their balance when they knew that amex is increasing the interest rates on their card. after revolving their balance on the low apr, it so sudden they have the money to payoff the account. isn’t it so amazing? they have the money but they chose to revolve their balance?

    using the card…not paying off the balance..then complaining. the problem w/ consumer is that they use their card not knowing that the money they will be earning is not even enough for the money they have borrowed.

    now what you’ll hear are all complains…

    well.. i won’t blame amex if they will only keep those deserving customers and let those high risk consumers cancel their cards and ruin their credits.

    Comment by anonymous — Sep 20th 2009 @ 2:16 pm
  132. Apparently Mr. Anonymous hasnt been paying attention, yet felt compelled to leave his two cents worth. If he had he would have realized that these people are the good customers, and in my case dont wanna pay 90.00 extra dollars a month for the same service.

    Comment by Scott from ca — Sep 20th 2009 @ 11:00 pm
  133. i’ve read all your comments and i definitely understand where each one is coming from.

    i also have my own credit card but i payoff my balance. i make sure that every time that i use the card, i have/will have the money to pay for the things i purchase.

    i guess this is reality that each one should think about. we should also understand that this is a big company. a company who always wants the best for their customer. i’ve contacted them about this and they were able to explain clearly as to why there are changes. they told me it reflects the cost of extending credit and true to say it’s because of the market condition. this company would want to continue whatever they are giving to their customers.

    each and every product that they have has it’s own benefits that we may not be aware of. take time to listen to them why there are doing it.

    i know that each one has tried to maintain an excellent record and they feel that they are being penalized for this. don’t think you’re being penalized, customers who don’t even pay their bills has a much higher interest than what you might have.

    Comment by anonymous — Sep 21st 2009 @ 12:59 am
  134. They are making the changes because, come this time next year, these changes would be illegal. That’s the ONLY reason. The one that bugs me the most is late APR. I occasionally screw up and pay late. Things happen. 27.99% for that? No thanks, guys, you’re fired.

    Comment by Ryan N. — Sep 21st 2009 @ 1:01 am
  135. Hey Anonymous,

    Why do you believe that AMEX’S explanation is plausible? Their cost of borrowing money is just about as low as it has ever been. Most to the customers who are complaining on this and other sites are the ones who have been paying their accounts “as agreed” for years! I only had one AMEX account for years until they started throwing extremely low interest rate programs at me.

    The only increased costs that AMEX has incurred may have to do with paying back money that they got from TARP. They and other banks want to do that as soon as possible so that their execs can receive their big bonus checks. If they declare that they have excessive losses from less than stellar customers, then that is their problem. I sell cars for a living and I cannot raise the price of a vehicle just because a customer has a poor payment history or because another customer had a repo and my dealership had to eat part of the repo!

    And one more thing in regard to the severity of the increases for the good customers, they will be paying at least 25% higher rates and possibly 100% higher ones if they are late or go over the limit once! The late paying customers’ accounts cannot be raised beyond a certain level so the only place to get more revenue seems to be from the good customers. Only bankers and possibly lawyers would not be happy with a 10% return for their investments.

    Anonymous, I appreciate your position; however, I believe that you wandered on to the wrong website!



    Comment by jbrare — Sep 21st 2009 @ 12:26 pm
  136. Hi Folks,

    Can any of you put together something like this lady did protesting AMEX? Looks like You Tube got BofA’s attention. The following is an excerpt from Wall Street Pit website from 9/22/09.

    Debtors Revolt Publicity Pays Off for Ann Minch
    By TraderMark|Sep 22, 2009, 9:32 AM|Author’s Website

    The power of YouTube…

    Last week we mentioned a video we found (I still don’t recall how I stumbled upon it) (Sep 17: YouTube – Debtors Revolt Begins Now) in which a woman goes on a relatively discerning rant on the actions of credit card companies, in terms of unilateral rate increases. Well, apparently this video spread like wildfire and it caught the attention of some top honchos at oligarch Bank of America (BAC).

    The Huffington Post reports from there:

    Two weeks ago, Ann Minch of Red Bluff, Calif. announced in a YouTube video that she’d launched a one-woman “Debtors’ Revolt” and would refuse to pay off her credit card balance after an unfair interest-rate hike. Now, after her video made a huge splash, Bank of America has agreed to reduce her rate.

    Minch said in a video posted Saturday that a Bank of America executive contacted her on Friday. “He asked me to talk a little about my personal financial situation so we can negotiate some kind of agreement in regard to my existing credit card account,” she said. The executive “tried to get me to agree to 16.99 percent and I said, ‘No, nope, I believe because you guys are getting your money from the Fed at zero percent interest… that 12.99 percent is a more than generous profit margin for you guys.’ So he did finally agree to that and he also agreed to send me that in writing.” (Her rate had been 12.99 percent for a long time before it shot up this year.)

    Minch’s first video has been viewed over 240,000 times. After the Huffington Post featured the 46-year-old stepmother of two in a story, she found herself inundated with media requests from the likes of NBC, CBS, Fox News and also a local reporter. (emphasis added)

    Nice work Ann, unfortunately such shock and awe tactics only work a few times, because the 3rd, 4th, or 5th person who tries this won’t capture the public’s (nor media’s) attention. So to quell the peasantry, it is right for the oligarch to smile and go along with the 1st rebel (perhaps 2) and then once the public’s attention reverts back to Dancing with the Stars, continue your ways. Well played Bank of America.

    What is hilarious is the Bank of America executive’s reason for the raising of the rate was completely arbitrary versus what the customer rep told her a few weeks ago. We know the truth sir – you are raising rates across the board ahead of new regulations coming in 2010. You just won’t admit it… parry, thrust, deflect, and profit.

    p.s. somehow Karl Denninger got a plug at the end of her newest video – what a small, small world… after all.


    Comment by jbrare — Sep 23rd 2009 @ 3:25 pm
  137. I just sent this to the House Committee on Financial Services. It appears that they now realize that the time lapse given to the financial vultures was a mistake.
    I urge all of you to contact this committee immediately and request that all punitive actions/increases made against customers be justifiable or rescinded! I am enclosing a copy of the notice at the end of this post!



    I just read that your committee was working to move up the effective date on the implementation of the Credit Card Reform Act to December 1, 2009.
    That is great news, but what about all of the citizens who have already been “swacked” by these usurious increases?
    I beseech your committee to force predatory actions by AMEX and others to be rescinded unless the individual customers have defaulted of failed to “pay as agreed.” Amex has taken full advantage of the delayed implementation and announced changes prior to August 20th and raised rates without cause by at least 25%. Their VP had testified before your own committee in April of 2008 that AMEX did not take such actions.
    He either gave false testimony or AMEX changed their policies to take advantage of a huge “loophole” in the original act!
    No customer should have been penalized without just cause by having their contracts changed. Consumers should at least the same rights as the institutions our tax dollars just “bailed out

    Notice from the House Committee on Financial Services:

    For Immediate Release:

    September 24, 2009

    Maloney, Frank Introduce Bill to Change Effective Date of Credit Card Reforms to Dec. 1

    Washington, DC – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), author of the credit card reform bill signed earlier this year by President Obama, and Barney Frank (D-MA), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, today introduced legislation which changes the effective date for the reforms in that bill to December 1, 2009.

    H.R. 3639, the ‘‘Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009,” would move up the effective date of the remaining provisions of the Credit CARD Act, which are now scheduled for February and August 2010.

    “Pew Charitable Trust reports that interest rates have spiked by an average of 20% on credit cards representing more than 91% of the $864 billion in outstanding credit card balances. It’s clear that credit card companies are taking advantage of this period between the signing of my bill and the current effective date,” Rep. Maloney said. “The breadth and depth of the rate hikes happening now point to the need for faster consumer protections. Americans need relief now.”

    Original co-sponsors on H.R. 3639 include Reps. Capuano, Sutton, Schakowsky, Hirono, and Tierney.



    Comment by jbrare — Sep 24th 2009 @ 4:05 pm
  138. Great move. I just sent the commitee a simular note. Everyone needs to jump on this!!

    Comment by Daniel D. — Sep 25th 2009 @ 9:14 am
  139. this is so funny…

    Comment by anonymous — Sep 25th 2009 @ 10:48 am
  140. Has anyone noticed the lapse in postings between August 31 until Sept. 20? Nothing right? Because the powers that run this site choose to not post anything from anyone.

    The first new posting is by the idiot known as ‘anonymous’. I really think he is from the site or Amex. Ken Chenault maybe or a flunky?

    They blocked me. This is the first time I have been able to post anything on this site. Could not even read any posts. Missed yours jbrare. I’m still here. SS :)

    Meanwhile, I’ve emailed the White House a few times. Got a response from President Obama(?) which I thought was off base . . . so I email the President again.

    Also, I’ve been emailing Barney Frank, the committee, CNN, gone to other complaint sites as well.

    This probably won’t get through,because they will block me, but I wanted to try anyway.

    And anonymous, you are an idiot.

    Comment by Kris Scott — Sep 25th 2009 @ 5:58 pm
  141. Kris Scott……I have had every posting appear so I do not think the site is blocking us. I believe people are just accepting their fate and have no fight left in them. I do not plan to go away quietly and maybe some others will choose to also send to the powers to be as you and I have…..Bravo to both of us

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Sep 25th 2009 @ 6:04 pm
  142. Yes, anonymous is not so anonymous…It is obvious that it is from Amex.

    I am still here.

    Comment by Catherine — Sep 25th 2009 @ 6:18 pm
  143. Though some cardholders may rack up debt, most honor their debts, making the payments by the due dates and have every intention of paying off the balances. Everyone’s scenario is different, but most cardholders are responsible. Credit card issuers such as American Express continues to take advantage of long-time, loyal members by raising interest rates, lowering credit limits, etc. without due cause, contrary to what Executive Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Card Division of American Express, Larry Sharnak stated. If you are an American Express cardmember, we know you have been affected!

    Read this petition and sign it to protest! (You’re invited to sign it as well, anonymous.)


    Comment by cm sinclair — Sep 25th 2009 @ 6:21 pm
  144. Yeah! I got thru. :) SS Jude, jbrare, Catherine . . . good to see your posts. I was blocked and my wife as well (cmsinclair). From August 30 and on I entered quite a few different posts. :) SS.

    A few were copies of emails to the President, Barney Frank and his committee. They posted and then were gone. The site contacted my wife by email asking if she was me and if I was multiple posting under different emails. Make sense.

    Anyway, it makes sense to email Barney Franks committee. For whatever reason, they have finally realized the error they made and the loophole they opened for the credit card companies to jack rates up and change contract terms.

    I’m following the actions by the committee from email updates I get on the committees actions. Maybe sending just copies of our posts will escalate their sense of purpose to try and rectify the mess that they and the President and his staff made when they tried to help us out.

    What does everyone think the next course of action should be? Waiting on your posts. :) SS

    Comment by Kris Scott — Sep 25th 2009 @ 6:55 pm
  145. The fight ain’t gone out of me, no way and no how!
    Below is a message I sent back to AMEX when I got a notice that my statement was available for view on line. I sent this to k. chenault and his assistant Natacha St.Louis at AMEX headquarters. My last comment to them is in response to their last correspondence in which they let me know that in the future my emails would only be noted and not responded to. I guess they decided that I am not too easy to bully.


    Here is the statement for our last month’s usage of the Gold Card. Please notice that only $46 was put on it (did not have time to stop three charges), where as our normal usage would have been between $2500-$3000. Your punitive actions against us cost AMEX at least $100 in vendor fees and will continue to do so. We do not need your services and neither do a lot of other cardholders.

    Do not need or expect a response.”

    When we do not use their products, it costs them money. If they are going to raising my interest charges at least $100 a month, then I will take away at least that much from them by not charging on their cards. If ONE MILLION PEOPLE DO THAT, IT WILL COST THEM $90 MILLION A MONTH! EVEN AMEX WILL MISS THAT AMOUNT OF INCOME!

    Comment by jbrare — Sep 25th 2009 @ 7:01 pm
  146. Bravo to jbrare. I may owe $45K but I won’t owe one penny more….I have both a gold and a blue card and the latter is being paid off. The gold is going to be my concentration and soon it too will be paid but I swear, I will not charge one more dime on any Amex card, ever. The one good thing that came out of their bad choice is that I am now living as a cash only person rather than buying whatever, whenever I want…I have never missed a payment but now Amex will not make any additional monies from me; only the interest!!!

    That petition is a good idea….continuous letters to the committee and all others and then we will see who has the next idea……count me in.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Sep 25th 2009 @ 7:13 pm
  147. jbrare I like this:

    When we do not use their products, it costs them money. If they are going to raising my interest charges at least $100 a month, then I will take away at least that much from them by not charging on their cards.


    This is what we should start spreading around to different sites. That’s powerful! :) SS

    Comment by Kris Scott — Sep 25th 2009 @ 8:25 pm
  148. Knock, knock! Hello?

    Anonymous, where are you?

    Knock, knock! Hello?

    Comment by jbrare — Sep 26th 2009 @ 9:55 am
  149. Nobody has been blocked. We do, however, automatically filter comments for spam. When multiple different people comment from the same IP address in rapid succession, or when you include multiple links in your comments, your comment may be flagged as spam. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is. If we didn’t filter in this way, the site would be littered spam comments and/or we’d have to shut the comments down.

    Thanks for understanding, and apologies for any inconvenience.

    Comment by admin — Sep 26th 2009 @ 2:34 pm
  150. To admin:

    Thank you for the explanation and the apology is accepted. You must realize by now how important this particular site is to a good number of people.

    There are other sites chattering about how American Express, and other companies, took advantage of the reforms instituted by the President and Congress. It’s important to all of us frequenting this site to discuss what has happened.

    I’m sure you will agree, if you did not have to remain neutral, the rate increases and contract changes were precipitated in the despicable manner that they were because of the reform deadline.

    Your site offers cardholders intelligent chatter and discussions. I can only speak for myself, but possibly the others will agree, the freedom of speech this site allows is appreciated and welcome. If someone went overboard by accident then apologies are warranted to you.

    Thanks for offering an explanation to a concern? It was sincerely appreciated. :) SS

    Comment by kris Scott — Sep 26th 2009 @ 5:43 pm
  151. jbrare, you are so hilarious. :) SS

    hahahahahahahah!!!! :) SS

    Don’t you think so anonymous?

    Hello, hello . . . anonymous. . . hellooooooo?????? :( SS

    Comment by kris Scott — Sep 26th 2009 @ 5:54 pm
  152. Ann Minch’s BofA You Tube campaign was featured on GMA this morning. I think that she is or has already set up a website for other consumers to list the “crap” that credit card companies are doing. If I get that info, I will pass it along. If any of you know what it is, please post it. I did not have time to write it down since I do have to work to pay my AMEX and BofA accounts “as agreed”!
    Boy, I just realized that “as agreed” and “as a greed” sound the same! HMM!
    Guess it depends on how you look at it.


    Comment by jbrare — Sep 28th 2009 @ 11:58 am
  153. Hey Folks,

    Just found another good site to post your wrath, mahalo.com. Check it out.


    Comment by jbrare — Sep 28th 2009 @ 2:41 pm
  154. i’m still here… reading all your comments…

    Comment by anonymous — Sep 29th 2009 @ 4:01 am
  155. Cancelled my American Express Delta Skymiles card. The blue is going next (but I want to make sure it doesn’t screw up my using Membership Rewards points this weekend). Both have a balance of zero. Sayonara, AmEx.

    Comment by Ryan N. — Oct 2nd 2009 @ 10:39 am
  156. Paid Amex half of what I owe. Have not charged anything for months. Will not use the card for anything. Its dead and gone.

    Comment by Kris Scott — Oct 4th 2009 @ 2:42 pm
  157. I also got an AMEX increase on my APR from 9.9 to 12.9 (for no reason other than the economic climate) I’m not sure the best thing to do is close the account because it affects my overall credit score?? My plan is to get a balance transfer through my credit union & keep my AMEX account open with a $0.00 balance on it. That way my account remains open and they will not ever make a single red cent from me again. If they have customers that don’t have balances they are not making any money, which I believe will hurt them more than losing customers.

    Comment by John — Oct 6th 2009 @ 12:18 pm
  158. Hey, everyone….CNN MONEY is on this. At noon today they had a couple on and the credit card company they had “our issues” with is Chase, but it is the same scenario we have all encountered with Amex. I had the same with Chase but seeing I owe them so little, it was a non-issue; whereas AMEX is really put it to us. I owe them $48K so an increase in finance charges really takes a drain. I have sent the link to this site to the CNN Money site and hope the CNN folk choose to keep on this….too many of us taking it in the chin at this point….write to CNN.COM and comment on the MONEY segment……

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Oct 6th 2009 @ 12:55 pm
  159. Hi! I found this on http://www.consumerreports.org/. It does provide a lot of insight on what’s going on, what’s going to happen and what we can do. I hope this helps. I just don’t know why it’s dated “November 01, 2009.” =) This article is very long, but I believe it’s worth it. =)

    Take Control of Your Credit Cards
    Consumer Reports , November 01, 2009

    You have to wonder whether credit-card companies really want to keep their customers. Card issuers have slapped more than half of Americans with higher interest rates, lower borrowing limits, unexpected fees, and late-payment penalties, according to a new nationwide survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. If you’re in that group—and if you’re not yet, you might be soon—you don’t have to stand still and take it. We’ll show you how to take the offensive against costly and abusive credit-card changes.

    Your best strategy depends on whether you pay off your balances in full each month or rely on your credit cards to meet your monthly expenses. If you regularly carry a balance, you can beat the card issuers at their game by keeping your debt as low as possible and perhaps switching to a card from a credit union or a regional or community bank, which tend to charge lower interest rates and have more pro-consumer policies. If you don’t carry a balance and your card issuer recently scaled back its rewards programs or imposed an annual fee, you can switch to another company that still wants your business and will pay good rewards to get it. Our advice and table can guide you to good credit cards that are appropriate for your circumstances.

    How much credit-card debt?

    A third of Americans do not own a credit card, according to our survey. Of those who use them, here’s how much money they owe:

    54% pay their balance in full each month
    33% carry balances up to $10,000
    13% carry balances over $10,000 (median $17,366)

    Mounting dissatisfaction

    The level of public anger about card issuers shows in the results of our nationally representative survey of 1,211 Americans, conducted in July, as well as in scores of irate letters and e-mails we’ve received. Twenty-one percent of those we surveyed said they were treated unfairly by card companies, and only 41 percent said they were highly satisfied with their card issuer, making credit cards one of the lowest-rated services we cover. By a ratio of 4-to-1, respondents said they were charging less than they did last year, and 32 percent said they’d paid off and closed a card since January 2008. Half of them told us they did so in direct response to the actions of credit-card issuers, such as cutting limits, hiking rates, or imposing fees.

    A new federal law effective in February will force issuers to be more consumer friendly (see What’s changing and what isn’t). But until then, credit-card issuers are trying to offset losses from the economic downturn and the likely drop in revenue that will result from the new law. TowerGroup, a financial-research company in Needham, Mass., expects average annual percentage rates (APRs) to rise to 19 percent from about 14 percent today, even as other consumer interest rates, such as those for mortgages, are at historic lows. Plus, 27 percent of cards issued in the first three months of 2009 carry annual fees, up from 18 percent in 2008.

    Fees for exceeding your credit limit, prohibited under the new law, are evaporating. In their place are higher charges for cash advances, balance transfers, and foreign transactions. “Card companies are making subtle changes, a little scaling back of rewards, a little fee increase here and there,” says Curtis Arnold, publisher of CardRatings.com, which lets you compare card offers. “They’re nickel-and-diming customers, but it all adds up.”

    Some issuers have bumped up minimum monthly payments. Chase has imposed 5 percent minimums for some customers, up from 2 percent. That can help consumers pay down balances more quickly, but it can also saddle them with bills they can’t pay.

    That’s what happened to Rhonda Davis of Bailey, Colo. She took advantage of Chase’s “convenience check” offer carrying a 3.99 percent interest rate for life to buy a car three years ago. Her monthly payment was $275, which she made on time every month. Then Chase told her that her minimum monthly payment would be raised from 2 percent to 5 percent, hiking her payment to $687. Davis, a potter and business owner, tried to negotiate, with little success. “When I called the credit-card company to ask questions so I could understand the purpose of their actions,” she says, “they told me it was a tough economic environment for everyone and they just can’t continue to lend money at the rate I have.”

    So what can you do to protect yourself? That depends on how you use your credit cards. Our survey showed credit-card users falling into three camps. One group is made up of consumers who generally pay their bills on time but use cards for convenience or to rack up rewards. Then there are those who reported moderate balances and reasonable prospects of eventually paying off that debt. The third group includes consumers with debts totaling $10,000 or more, often from spending for emergencies; 44 percent of that group said they wouldn’t be able to survive financially over the next six months without relying on their credit cards to meet monthly expenses. Following are strategies geared specifically to each group:

    The on-time payer
    The low-balance cardholder
    Users with growing balances

    The on-time payer

    You make almost every payment on time, don’t carry a balance, have been a loyal customer for years, and have a high credit score. You’re not concerned about your card’s APR because you don’t pay interest, but you enjoy earning rewards—cash back, points, or air miles.

    Suddenly, those rewards aren’t so rewarding. For example, for domestic flights, some cards offered by Citibank and Capital One now require you to redeem at least 40,000 miles or points, up from 25,000. If you want to eliminate blackout dates and availability restrictions, it might cost you 50,000 points. Some cards charge stiffer fees to have points combined with airline frequent-flyer programs.

    If you make two consecutive late payments on a Discover card, you lose all frequent-flyer miles. Beginning this past September, American Express Blue and Blue Sky cardholders who pay late lose rewards points earned for that billing cycle. If the account returns to good standing, the forfeited points can be reinstated for a $29 fee for each month of points that you want back. Citibank is adopting a similar practice. For late payments on Citi cards earning ThankYou points, rewards might not be redeemable until a customer makes all payments due. A reinstatement fee might apply for each late month (though currently there’s no fee).

    Perhaps you have little interest in rewards but keep a card for convenience, emergencies, and the consumer protections they offer in the event there is a dispute with a retailer about a purchase. During flush times, card issuers kept extending your credit limits based on your excellent payment history and high credit score. But recently some cardholders have seen those credit lines cut dramatically, which could ding their credit scores.

    Ronald Duffy of Santa Fe, N.M., had the same Bank of America card for years and always paid in full. His credit line had been raised to $50,000. It was recently cut to $12,000. He protested, saying that his credit score would be lowered by the cut. “Bank of America said that the line of credit has nothing to do with my credit score,” Duffy says. “I then called Equifax, and they said it does. Also, Bank of America lowering my line of credit may make it more difficult to get a loan, mortgage, etc.”

    What to do:

    Use rewards quickly. Expiration dates and other restrictions can cost you points, so spend them before you lose them.

    Choose cash back over points or miles. With deeply discounted airfares, you might be better off buying a ticket with your cash rewards. If you’re dead set on a mileage card, look for one that lets you combine your miles with a frequent-flyer program, such as Citi’s PremierPass card, so that you can double-dip on points.

    If you pay an annual fee for a rewards card, make sure you use it enough to make it worthwhile. Consumer Action, an advocacy group, found that you’d need to spend $10,000 on the American Express Delta SkyMiles card, which has a $150 annual fee, to get $100 off on a Delta flight.

    Look for off-the-beaten-path rewards cards. Financial companies Fidelity and Charles Schwab offer cards with unlimited 2 percent cash back and no annual fee.

    Consider having your savings account and credit card in the same place. Chase and Citibank pay additional rewards for card customers who also bank there.

    Ask to have your old limit reinstated. It might not work, but 51 percent of the people in our survey who complained to their issuers about new terms that were imposed on their cards were at least partially successful in changing them back.

    The low-balance cardholder

    You carry a moderate balance ($2,554 was the median in our survey), and you always make your minimum monthly payments. But that balance, manageable with a single-digit interest rate, can become unaffordable when the rate goes up.

    That was the case for John Herbert, of Andes, N.Y. His payments for the roughly $3,900 balance on his Washington Mutual card were directly debited from his checking account each month, so he never paid late. But when WaMu’s credit-card business was acquired by Chase, the interest rate on Herbert’s balance jumped from 9 percent to 16 percent, then to 24 percent. When he asked why, Chase blamed his credit score, though Herbert says his credit score is a healthy 741. As a retiree on a fixed income, he couldn’t pay the balance all at once, so he took advantage of a no-interest balance-transfer offer from Discover and closed his account.

    What to do:

    Roll over balances to cards issued by credit unions or regional or community banks. Credit cards from federal credit unions are capped at 18 percent APR, so even if you do fall behind on payments, you’ll avoid the 30 percent default rates some major cards charge. But credit unions have the option of taking funds from any deposit account you have with them to cover credit-card defaults. You must join a credit union to get a card, but the requirements are often simple. You can join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union with a one-time payment of $20. Pentagon’s Visa Platinum Cash Back has a 5.99 percent APR on balances transferred for life (it carries a 2.5 percent transfer fee capped at $100). Go to CUlookup.com to find a credit union in your area.

    Check the APR and the fee for transferring a balance. Virtually all balance-transfer offers now come with a transfer fee, and they’ve been climbing—5 percent isn’t uncommon. Some cards also have higher interest rates for balance transfers, so beware.

    If you’re planning a purchase that you’ll need a year to pay off, consider switching to a card with a low introductory rate.
    Set up automatic bill payment. Until the new law goes into effect in February, just one late payment could trigger the default APR, so make sure you pay on time.

    Read all notices from your credit-card issuer. If your terms are changed, you can opt out of the new terms. Your account will be canceled, but you can continue to pay off your balance under the old terms.

    Ask to have your interest rate lowered. If you’re worried about meeting your payments, see whether your card issuer offers payment plans or hardship programs.

    Users with growing balances

    Many people have become dependent on credit cards to get by. Thirty percent of our survey respondents who carried a balance said they owed more than $10,000. The median debt level in this group was $17,366, and 25 percent of people falling in this group said they had no idea when they might pay off the debt. Interestingly, this group had a median income greater than $75,000, and almost half were college graduates. Those folks didn’t all rack up debt by living large; among the major causes for steep balances were car and home repairs, medical and veterinary bills, and basic necessities such as groceries, utilities, and gas.

    Demos, a public policy research group in New York, found in a 2008 survey of low- and middle-income households that credit-card debt was rising fastest for senior citizens, with the average senior carrying $3,988 in medical debt. Balances are also building from a young age. According to Sallie Mae, one-third of undergraduate students put some of their tuition payments on their credit cards last year.

    Valerie Constantine of Tucson, Ariz., owes $21,000, largely from charging income- and property-tax payments (as well as some vacation expenses). Her manageable rates of 11 percent to 13 percent were hiked to 27 percent and 29 percent in July. She is self-employed as a consultant, makes good money, and has a 786 credit score. She says she can pay her debt off eventually but adds, “I might as well have borrowed from the Sopranos.”

    What to do:

    Negotiate with your card issuer. Thirteen percent of our survey respondents said their issuer initiated offers of payment plans, reduced interest rates, or debt-settlement programs to get the balance paid off. But entering into such an agreement might hurt your credit score, depending on how the settlement is reported to the credit bureaus. If you pay off the entire amount through a debt-management program, your score will not be affected. If you and the creditor agree to settle for less than the full balance, there could be a negative effect on your score, but it will be worse if you default.

    Roll over balances to small bank or credit-union cards. Even if you can’t roll over all of a balance, just moving a portion could yield some breathing room. But make sure there’s a cap on the transfer fee—5 percent on a $10,000 balance is a painful $500.
    Look out for debt-settlement scams. Instead, negotiate directly with your credit-card issuer. If you feel overwhelmed, contact a nonprofit credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (www.nfcc.org).

    Consider other options. You could borrow against life insurance or your 401(k) balance (but if you lose your job, you might need to repay the loan all at once), borrow money from family members, or take out a private loan. Again, credit unions might offer the best loan rates.

    Leave your card at home. A University of Maryland and New York University study found that people who used cash instead of plastic generally spent less.

    What’s changing and what isn’t

    The Credit CARD Act of 2009 contains sweeping pro-consumer reforms. Most of the rules go into effect in February 2010; those requiring sufficient notice of account changes and time to pay bills are already in effect. Here’s what the law does and what it leaves unchanged:

    The law DOES:

    Require banks to mail bills 21 days before the due date and give 45 days’ notice of changes in APR, fees, and other key terms.
    Allow you to opt out of rate hikes and fee increases and to close accounts while paying off the balances under the old interest rates.
    Restrict interest-rate increases during the first year of card use.
    Prohibit banks from charging overlimit fees, unless you sign up to be allowed to exceed your credit limit.
    Prohibit rate increases on existing balances unless you’re 60 days overdue.
    Give you the right to revert to an older, lower interest rate after making on-time payments for six consecutive months.
    Restrict cards for people under 21 without an older cosigner or proven income.
    Require banks to apply payments to the balances with the highest interest rate first.
    Prohibit gift-card fees for one year and expiration dates for at least five years.

    The law DOESN’T:

    Prevent issuers from imposing annual fees on credit accounts.
    Set a ceiling on interest rates.
    Allow you to opt out of increases in the minimum monthly payment.
    Require banks to give you notice if your borrowing limit is lowered or your credit card is canceled.
    Require banks to notify you if your interest rate goes up because of an increase in prevailing rates, such the prime rate.
    Impose regulations on most prepaid cards or debit cards.
    Protect your score

    Your credit score has a major impact on the interest rate and other terms of your credit cards. Know how your actions affect that score.

    You’ll need a minimum FICO credit score of 730 to qualify for the best cards. Because 15 percent of your credit history is based on the longevity of your credit accounts, try not to close your oldest card unless necessary. If you don’t like a card’s interest rate, use it sparingly to keep it active; many issuers are now closing cards because of inactivity. But pay it off in full each month.

    Don’t do anything rash, such as cut up all of your cards or suddenly take out five new ones in hopes of boosting your available credit. Both approaches could backfire. Having a mix of credit lines, including credit cards, is important to your score, but opening too many new cards will shorten the length of your total credit history and make it look like you need lots of new credit, a danger sign.

    Where to look for good cards

    Finding a good credit card takes a bit of work. Check for deals that are offered through CardRatings.com, FatWallet.com, and other Internet sites. Those sites sometimes have a direct link to an offer not generally available or a coupon that will get you a special rate. Also search out affinity cards related to your job or organizations to which you belong.

    Credit-union cards: Joining a group can make you eligible for some good credit-union cards. PenFed, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union’s card, described in the table below, is available to members of the National Military Family Association, which anyone can join for $20. Your employer might provide access to a credit union. Cards issued by the Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union carry APRs as low as 5.24 percent for employees of Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Agilent Technologies, and other tech companies. The Digital Federal Credit Union offers attractive cards to employees of its more than 700 member companies.

    Association cards: USAA offers rewards cards with interest rates as low as 7.75 percent for current and retired military personnel and their families. The NEA Platinum Plus card, available to teachers who are members of the National Education Association, offers a 6.24 percent APR and 0 percent on balance transfers for 12 months, with transfer fees capped at $30.

    Specialty rewards cards: The TrueEarnings Costco card from American Express is a good cash-back card if you are a Costco member and pay off your balance in full each month. It carries no annual fee and pays rewards of 1 to 3 percent, depending on what you purchase. Despite a $45 annual fee after the first year, the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express can be worthwhile if you’re a frequent traveler and you stay at Starwood hotels.

    Comment by MVillanueva — Oct 9th 2009 @ 8:24 am
  160. A new petition against American Express has just been put on the web:


    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Oct 10th 2009 @ 11:03 pm
  161. Scott,

    I went to the site and signed, but I could not forward the petition to others. I kept getting an “invalid email” notice? I may be doing something wrong, but do not know what. I went to my Outlook Mailbox and clicked a lot of valid email addresses, but they were all kicked back.
    Any ideas?



    Comment by jbrare — Oct 12th 2009 @ 1:08 pm
  162. I don’t know why it didn’t work, jbrare . . . I’ll see what I can find out.

    I’ll also send it to someone and ask them to use the email forward on the site.

    I’ll see what happens. I typically copy and paste. It’s a good site. Hope it attracts some interest.

    Thanks, jbrare

    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Oct 12th 2009 @ 5:28 pm
  163. Scott,

    I had already sent an email to about 50 of those in my address book by copying and pasting as you suggested.
    My “give hell” daughter in Georgia already signed on.
    I know that there are thousands, if not millions that are caught up in this mess.
    I just could not get the site to open my Outlook address book and link those names to the petition site.
    Not a big deal. I just wondered what i was doing wrong.
    Thanks for getting this going, by the way!


    Comment by jbrare — Oct 12th 2009 @ 5:46 pm
  164. jbrare,

    I don’t really know. My wife is going to check it out and let me know. I wouldn’t know, but she will.

    I know there are a lot out there too. I just wonder where all the Amex cardholders are and what’s the best way to get everyone on board.

    I know the HFSC is reviewing what happened and the new date for the reform bill is Dec. 1st (a lot of good that does everyone now).

    I have also email the White House several times and have received a response back . . . seemed like standard issue though.

    You’re welcome. I hope its okay. I tried it one other time and it didn’t seem to gain any steam. I don’t think it was promoted right.

    Anyway, thanks again. Will let you know what my wife finds out. Tell your daughter I said thanks also.


    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Oct 12th 2009 @ 6:01 pm
  165. THIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    unacceptable business practice. welcome to a little card game called “screw your neighbor!!!!!!!”

    Comment by kev k — Oct 16th 2009 @ 5:47 pm
  166. I’m confused. American Express was going to increase my percentage rate to 15+% as of October 1. However, I just got my statement and they did not raise my interest rate.

    Do you think they have come to their senses because of the complaints. I know that doesn’t sound possible. They have information about CARD CHECK on their website, which just says they have to give 45 days notice and they did that. It also mentions letting people opt out by closing their accounts, but card check doesn’t really make that mandatory as far I as understand it. American Express would not let me opt out.

    Anyone know what is going on?


    Comment by Jeanne — Oct 27th 2009 @ 2:50 am
  167. Jeanne, I don’t know. Maybe they have or maybe they’re just waiting for what they think is a better time after all the backlash.

    They didn’t raise mine either. Although, my wife and I did send them a check for 25K prior to Oct. 1st.

    I’m still emailing people, committee’s, and pushing a petition. But, most importantly (per jbrares’ revelation . . . see below) I’ve stop using my card.



    Comment by Scott Sinclairs — Oct 27th 2009 @ 7:59 am
  168. I just looked and see that my rate is still 10.25% which it has been all year, BUT my Gold card is $150 annual to have and I could swear it use to be $75….can’t find the statement the membership fee was on last year to confirm. Let’s just wait and see and be happy that our rates have not gone up YET…..I too no longer charge to the card so with so many of us maybe they see their revenue decreasing and want us to again use the AX card….who knows…..next month could be another story.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Oct 27th 2009 @ 9:35 am
  169. I am afraid to call American Express and see if their not increasing my interest is a mistake or that they are waiting, but either way, it seems strange. Believing that they make mistakes that benefit me is hard to believe.

    My Visa let me opt out of increased rate, which CARD CHECK appears to promote (which I hope may have something do with AmEx not increasing interest); however, my Visa has a nasty policy of not paying the higher rate purchases before the lower rate. I was desperate for $10 a few years ago, and I didn’t realize that they would never let me pay that off and now it is $14.50. Still not much, but it just makes me angry. My payments just go for the bigger balance. According to CARD CHECK rules beginning in Feb. they can’t do that anymore. Hoping it will apply to closed and opted out accounts too.

    I’m on a fixed income but I always send over the minimum on cards every month. AmEx used to give me lower rates because of this. Even doing this, I am not able to make a dent in what I owe my AmEx and Visa. If AmEx does raise my interest rate, then I am dead meat.

    Comment by Jeanne — Oct 27th 2009 @ 11:52 am
  170. Posted 10/22/09…..see effective date….not Feb, but now December first…..
    WASHINGTON–A key U.S. House panel, in a slap to the credit-card industry, on Thursday voted to move up by two months the effective date of strict new rules reining in the industry.

    Under the legislation, the rules, enacted in May in what amounts to the most sweeping overhaul of credit-card regulations in decades, will now take effect on Dec. 1 rather than Feb. 1.

    The new effective date wouldn’t apply to card issuers with fewer than two million credit cards in circulation or to gift-card issuers, thanks to amendments approved by the panel.

    The House Financial Services Committee passed the measure on a voice vote, over the objections of panel Republicans. The full House and Senate must still vote on the legislation.

    Lawmakers have been angered by reports that credit-card firms have been raising fees and rates ahead of the new rules.

    “The card companies brought this on themselves by using the time between when the bill was signed by President Obama and when it goes into effect to ‘get in under the wire’ with a last gasp of unfair practices,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.), said in a statement. Ms. Maloney sponsored the legislation along with House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.)

    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned earlier this week that an earlier date could hurt small credit-card issuers. In a letter to Rep. Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), he said such issuers needed “sufficient time for implementation to allow for an orderly transition and to avoid unintended consequences, compliance difficulties and potential liabilities.”

    However, he said moving up the effective date would mean that “consumers would receive important benefits and protections earlier.”

    Some provisions of the new credit-card law have already taken effect, including a requirement that issuers give consumers 45 days’ notice before raising their interest rate.

    The panel rejected a Republican proposal that would have required the Federal Reserve to certify within one week that the industry could handle the earlier effective date. Rep. Mike Castle (R., Del.), a sponsor of that measure, said card issuers “simply cannot accommodate these changes so quickly.”

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Oct 27th 2009 @ 12:15 pm
  171. Jeanne and Jude,

    The notices that I received regarding the punitive rate increases (see post #67 above) stated that those increases would affect the billing cycle starting on or after 10/01/2009.

    I have recently received the statements whose ending dates were mid-month Ocbober. The rates on those statements had not changed, but those statements were for billing cycles that started prior to 10/01. I am expecting an unpleasant not-quite-surprise on the statements I receive in mid-November.

    Comment by Derek Penton — Oct 27th 2009 @ 1:30 pm
  172. Well, at least we know all those emails we sent to everyone didn’t fall on deaf ears or got randomly deleted.


    Comment by Scott Sinclairs — Oct 27th 2009 @ 3:56 pm
  173. I want to remind everyone not to use the AMEX cards!
    Also, I was on paperless statements; however, I went back to paper since that is added expense to AMEX plus supports the USPS! I think we will see the increases on our November statements.

    Comment by jbrare — Oct 27th 2009 @ 4:04 pm
  174. Appears that Senator Dodd is aware of what has been happening! I suggest that everyone send him an “atta boy!” The Consumer Affairs site is a good one.


    Dodd Bill Would Freeze Credit Card Rates
    Banks jacking up fees, interest rates in advance of new rules

    By Truman Lewis
    October 27, 2009

    Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has introduced a measure that would immediately freeze credit card interest rates, as Congress continues trying to rein in the financial services sector.
    Dodd, who heads the Senate Banking Committee, said credit card companies are using the delayed implementation of legislation passed earlier this year to jack up fees and interest rates.
    “We worked long and hard to enact the safeguards included in the Credit CARD Act,” said Dodd, who had introduced the bill in 2004, 2005 and 2008 before successfully passing it this spring. “And no sooner had it been signed into law, but credit card companies were looking for ways to get around the protections this Congress and the American people demanded.”
    “At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, jacked up rates can quickly create crushing debt. People need to be responsible with their money, but they shouldn’t be taken to the cleaners by outrageous rates,” Dodd said.
    The Credit CARD Act requires 45-day notification of interest rate increases, and lengthens from 14 days to 21 days the amount of time before the due date that a statement must be delivered, but it does not become fully effective until Feb. 1, 2010.
    In April, Dodd and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the heads of the Federal Reserve, OTS, and NCUA calling on them to implement an emergency freeze on interest rates tied to existing balance on credit cards.
    In the House, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, have pushed to speed up implementation of the CARD measure to December 1, 2009, two months ahead of schedule.
    When it finally takes effect, the CARD Act will require credit card companies to review every account that has seen an interest rate increase since January 1, 2009 and reduce rates where warranted.
    Dodd sent a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the heads of key regulatory agencies in July directing them to let credit card companies know that they will be held accountable for rate increases. He also called on the Federal Reserve to provide clear, robust requirements for the reviews and called on the agencies enforcing those regulations to hold the credit card companies strictly accountable for conducting thorough reviews and decreasing rates.

    Comment by jbrare — Oct 28th 2009 @ 5:34 pm
  175. Please go to this site and voice your complaint. Don’t hesitate to do this. The site is raising more interest than any one person could hope to do. Here is the site address:


    Keep this going!


    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Nov 10th 2009 @ 9:15 pm
  176. Wow Scott …..good work on the site and jbrare…thanks for such a thorough bit on Dodd.


    I am vowimg to stop any cards now and in the future…that are not ethical. Does anyone have any favorites right now?? I can say that US Bank has not screwed me yet.

    Comment by Catherine — Nov 13th 2009 @ 6:33 pm
  177. Oh yes, the new rates did hit in November. The only option the folks at AmEx gave me was to enter a program for people who can’t pay their bills. I am sure that would have even worse consequences.
    Will do my best to let everyone know that AmEx is a company with no social responsibility and a hinderance to the economic recovery! They should remove the American from their name!

    Comment by Joanne — Dec 2nd 2009 @ 12:52 pm
  178. Yep, the new administration dropped the ball on this one. Either, they were too stupid to know what the credit card companies would do with that open window . . . or, they were paid off by the credit card lobbyists.

    I would vote for the “paid off by the credit card lobbyists”. You can’t trust anyone in politics anymore. Not that you ever could. But, I had hoped with the new era in government we ordinary, taxpaying citizens would get a break. But, we have really been screwed.

    I refuse to use the American Express card for anything. Every credit card invite I get I will put the blank application in their, or so generous postage paid envelope and send it right back to them.

    I’ll still send emails of complaint to everyone I can think of. I’ll still urge everyone to not use the Amex card for anything. So, anyway, it happened, it’s not over, if everyone who reads jbrare’s fact of Amex life and adheres to it at all costs . . . it will still hurt them.

    ****generous courtesy of jbrare


    ****Oh, by the way . . . to Ken Chenualt;

    F— YOU, KEN!

    Sorry, he had it coming.

    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Dec 2nd 2009 @ 8:30 pm
  179. Go to This Site!



    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Dec 2nd 2009 @ 8:40 pm
  180. I urge everyone to go to this site. I have used them twice in this ongoing campaign. This link does not go to AMEX but does go to another perp, BofA!

    Comment by jbrare — Dec 3rd 2009 @ 11:50 am
  181. I just got a letter also lowering my line of credit with A Ex.
    I don’t really care because I am never using them again anyway.
    The way that they phrase these letters is so gross.

    I decided that as they say “due to challenging times”, I am notifying all of my friends and collegues to not use american express. Do you think I should use the style of e-mail that says forward this to 20 of your friends within 8 hours and you will have money come your way? I will cc: Mr. Chenault also. Just looking to look out for us consumers during these “challenging times” right!

    Comment by Catherine — Dec 9th 2009 @ 4:33 pm

    Hey all of you

    I am writing this letter to start my own little revolution. I am a small business owner. I own rental properties. Two years ago, as you all know the Real Estate market tanked. Over one year ago Banks STOPPED lending to “Main Street”. I had a line of credit at the time that I used for repairs on properties. My bank froze it, which means NO more money honey. It seems that everything happened at once. I had to go in for fibroid surgery, the economy tanked, Banks froze money and the roof was literally falling in on all of my properties. I knew that I would make it through, after-all I paid my way through college, my fico score was perfect. I have never defaulted on any payment or even been late. I was so glad that I had all of these lines of credit open with my credit cards. One of those companies was American Express “Blue”. Yeah, blue is what I turned when they send a notice out to all of their customers raising their interest rate to 17%. Wooooooooow, wow, ouch… I contacted american express via e-mail to let them know that this is just WRONG. Mr. Chenault’s (ceo @ American Express) secretary actually called me back and sort of blah blah blah. Anyway, I have a line of credit with them of 20,000. Today I got a letter in the mail that says they are lowering it to $2,400, which is the amount that I currently owe on the account. Are you aware that when a company lowers your credit line that it negatively affects your credit score?

    I AM SO TIRED OF THESE BIG COMPANIES DOING THIS CRAPPY STUFF. Like Bill Mahr says, “what happened to just doing the right thing?”

    I just sent American Express a check for $1,000 and plan on paying them off soon….No real biggie. All of my properties are rented and no required repairs. My health is good. I am working quite a bit. However, I really feel bad for the people who have children and are under financial pressure who get these raised rates for no reason. There are many blogs about it where people are voicing their concern. One of them is on credit card addicts web site.

    If we as Americans just lie down and take this then they will keep it up. However, if we use the internet and spread the word then we can have an impact.

    SO HERE IS MY PLEA. Shred your American Express Card!!!! Don’t ever use it again even if they lower the rate to 0%. Send this e-mail to EVERYONE that you know. Tell every business to stop using them.

    I know other credit card companies have done similar things probably to many of you..so do what I am doing and at least try and find justice. WE TAXPAYERS BAILED OUT THE BANKS AND THEN THIS…YUK!!
    Whew, I feel better now!!!!! Thanks for listening everyone. Mr. Chenault, shame on you!!

    P.S. Banks still aren’t lending money either. All of my friends in real estate are just sitting, waiting so that they can create jobs!!! No money yet to main street.

    Comment by Catherine — Dec 9th 2009 @ 5:24 pm
  183. Cathryn I am with you 100%. You, me and many more like us will pay off our cards and will not use them and when all this blows over we WILL REMEMBER and will never use Amex again. I just wonder how many others will really join us. So many just forget or take any credit they can get….I don’t think we will put Amex out of business but at least we will feel better about not supporting their bottom line any further. Bravo for you.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Dec 9th 2009 @ 6:08 pm
  184. Jude,

    You are so right! If only 1000 people who were charging $2000 monthly refrain from using AMEX, then their income is reduced by approximately $60000 per month.
    If we can get 10000 people to stop using AMEX products, that is over $7,200,000 annually. They will miss that!
    They may not notice it immediately, but that is income that they will not realize, and that makes me feel good!
    I think that after the dust settles, AMEX and other lenders will begin seeking out new customers who do not know how these predatory vultures will treat them when the time is right! God help them, the customers.


    Comment by jbrare — Dec 9th 2009 @ 6:21 pm
  185. Here is another site for disgruntled AMEX and other lenders’ customers.


    Check it out and start posting there too!


    Comment by jbrare — Dec 9th 2009 @ 6:36 pm
  186. I just paid off my American Express balance. They didn’t get hardly any of that increased interest from me. I won’t be using them anymore either. Farewell American EXpress. Now your just my American EX.

    Comment by John — Dec 10th 2009 @ 1:36 am
  187. It is like any relationship, if they don’t treat you with respect and are not ethical, let them know that is isn’t working for you and if they don’t think their behavior needs changing then BYE BYE. Oh the karma for those greedy greedy executives..so sad

    Comment by Catherine — Dec 10th 2009 @ 5:18 pm
  188. Hey folks,

    Guess what? On a whim I emailed AMEX on the card site and got two of my three rates lowered! They reset one of the blue cards to 10.24% and lowered the other by 3% to 14.24%. The strange thing was that they said that 15.24% was the lowest rate available for a gold card.
    I am fairly happy about these reductions, but will stil refrain from using any AMEX products!
    Give it a try and email them thru the card site.

    Good Luck,


    Comment by jbrare — Dec 17th 2009 @ 5:58 pm
  189. Jbare
    I am glad you are happy. At least it is something. They gave you a crumb, not a cookie. If they lowered it to 6%, then I would be really impressed. The main thing is that you are happy with it. Thanks for letting us know. I still am vowing to never use them.

    Comment by Catherine — Dec 17th 2009 @ 8:33 pm
  190. Catherine,

    I think that I got at least a half a cookie since the rates Amex gave me were the same as what I had for the exception of the gold card. Do not think anyone is going to be giving 6% rates any time soon.
    I am with you in that I do not intend to patronize AMEX; however, the reduction to 10.24% was a big deal since that rate had been raised to 15.24% less than a month ago.


    Comment by jbrare — Dec 18th 2009 @ 1:29 pm
  191. Response to jbrare

    Yes, it is pretty good. I think they are in fact feeling the pressure. So our campaign is working.

    Comment by Catherine — Dec 18th 2009 @ 9:58 pm
  192. Same thing happened to me, pay double the minimum, always on time and they uppped me to 17%. Here’s what i did and it may work for you. If you pay on time, etc. then you, like me, have great or at least good credit. I decided that doing a balance transfer at 1.9% through the end of 2010 to B of A was worth the fee they charge (3% of balance, it still comes out to way less than AMEX’s ridiculous 17%). Anyway, if you have say 3,100 on your account, transfer 3,000 to another card with the lower intereste rate. Then pay AMEX 101 bucks. This will give you a buck credit, within the next few months, THEY/AMEX will mail/email you balance transfers at lower interest rates, transfer whatever you didn’t pay during the year back to them. it sucks, but they want to play the game, and if you have good credit, play it right back. in the end, you’ll end up with a lower rate than you started with….if that’s an incentive. We have to get creative as AMEX is awful and criminal in the way they go about doing things.

    Comment by Tracy — Dec 29th 2009 @ 7:13 pm
  193. Re AM EX and the OPT OUT – I recently found out that offering an OPT OUT was mandatory since August as per the Credit Card Act of 2009 – AmEx site also states that Opt Outs are available – I am not quite certain why I (and many of you) were told that no option was available – I have sent an email to AmEx thru their site about this as well (I received a rate increase and am questioning it again since I tried to opt out and was told I could not – makings of a class-action suit?: Visit the site for the Opt Out notice (you can simply put OPT OUT in the search field and it will come up) – let me know if you have trouble (I tried using a link but it links to my account)

    Comment by WIL — Dec 30th 2009 @ 9:46 am
  194. Response to comment by WIL (#193) – !!!!! Yes!!!!! This has the makings of a class action lawsuit!!!!! I tried to opt out on three phone calls to AmEx and was told on each call that it was not possible. I don’t know how class action lawsuits get started, but I sure hope it happens for us!!! AmEx used to be my favorite card because they, at times, would automatically decrease my % rate because of my payment practices or whatever… don’t know why, but sure made me prefer their card to others. Now, they have changed their good customer practices and not only arbitrarily increased our % rates, they have lied to us about the opt out. Unfortunately, I owe them a lot and can’t pay it off as others have indicated they have.

    Comment by Jeanne — Dec 30th 2009 @ 11:04 am
  195. Call Stephanie Fogleman at American Express:
    1-800-297-6197, EXT 67545 that is who answers the corresp. sent to the Corp. Office.

    Comment by cheryl johnson — Dec 30th 2009 @ 4:31 pm
  196. I took advantage of BOA offer on my online BOA page for balance transfer at special low rate and they use my response to their offer to slash my credit line by 75%. Months later they send me the same offer in a letter with my name on it and my then available credit line written on the letter and when I respond to their solicitation {they made the offer at least 3 times} they tell me they are canceling my credit card completely and I know they new my credit score {which was still good} before making the offer as I have credit monitoring and now for the second time BOA continues to damage my credit just because I attempt to take their offers!!! WHY!!!! AND CAN I SUE THEM!

    Comment by Jack — Jan 10th 2010 @ 1:45 pm
  197. Jack

    Cnn had a man on their web page speaking of this. A lawyer. Maybe google CNN lawyer sues B of A?? try that.

    Comment by Catherine — Jan 10th 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    Comment by Catherine — Jan 19th 2010 @ 12:42 pm
  199. American Express posted a 4th quarter profit of $710 million, more than double that of the same period last year. I wonder how they accomplished this…could it be from fraud, breaking contracts, skirting the law and blackmailing customers with bad credit scores? Now that economic conditions have improved, will rates be lowered?

    Comment by Strategery — Jan 22nd 2010 @ 4:54 pm
  200. AMEX first raised my rate from 9.9% to 15.9% and now after 3 months has cut my limit by 28%. All this after being a customer on a Blue card for 8 years and a Green Card member for 29 years and never missed or made a late payment.

    This is after AMEX took money from the bail out (our money) and made more profit last quarter than it di during the same period last year.

    I will make any and all moves to pay these blood suckers that care nothing abouth their customers as soon as possible.

    Comment by L.Stipe — Feb 25th 2010 @ 9:32 am
  201. Re Comment by L.Stipe#200 and Strategery#199

    Re#200 – I’ve been a good customer for many years too consistently paying early and paying more than minimum due. American Express raised my rate the same as it did you and then cut it a small amount when I called last month complaining again that they had no right to raise interest rates and not let us opt out.

    Re#199 – I too heard that American Express is making excellent profits. I didn’t know they got bailout money though. Wish I could pay off this account, but for some reason taxes on my low income have sky-rocketed, and I’ll be lucky to make ends meet and go on paying AmEx for the rest of my life!

    Comment by Jeanne — Feb 25th 2010 @ 12:11 pm
  202. Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against American Express Regarding Improper Increases in Customer Credit Card Interest Rates

    Posted on: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 15:38:58 EDT

    Atlanta, GA, Sep 17, 2010 (PRWeb.com via COMTEX) —
    Atlanta law firm Webb, Klase & Lemond, LLC has filed a class action lawsuit against American Express alleging that the company unilaterally increased consumer interest rates in violation of the applicable credit card agreements. The complaint asserts that these increases were contrary to American Express’ long-standing practice of tying its rates on many credit card accounts to the Prime Rate, the interest rate charged by banks to their most creditworthy customers. This commitment was established in the company’s form contracts and through years of consistent dealings with customers according to the suit. The complaint states that American Express raised rates even for consumers who have always maintained their good standing by satisfying all account requirements, such as making required payments and not exceeding credit limits. Furthermore, the plaintiff claims American Express has taken such action even against those whose credit scores and general creditworthiness have not declined. The suit requests that customers be refunded all excessive interest charges in addition to several other forms of relief. The case, styled Meeks v. American Express Centurion Bank, Inc., is pending in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia and has been assigned Case Number 2010CV190851.

    According to the suit, for several years Mr. Meeks was charged a “fixed-variable” interest rate equal to the Prime Rate plus a “marginal rate” of 2.99 percent. In this manner, the plaintiff claims the company’s interest rates tracked the Prime Rate, moving up when the Prime Rate climbed and down when the Prime Rate fell. The complaint asserts that the company unilaterally ended this practice in late 2008 and throughout 2009 by periodically increasing customers’ marginal rates such that – even as the Prime Rate fell to historic lows – customers suffered higher and higher interest charges. For example, Mr. Meeks’ marginal rate went from 2.99 percent to 11.99 percent and thus, even with the Prime Rate at 3.25 percent, American Express charged him interest of over 15 percent, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Meeks claims the improper and excessive rate hikes have cost him hundreds of dollars and more than doubled his monthly payments.

    The lawsuit asserts that American Express imposed these higher rates even on existing customer balances. In addition, the suit alleges that American Express’s offer that customers could reject this interest rate increase by freezing or closing their credit card accounts is inadequate because, as the company is well aware, most consumers rely on their credit card accounts and closing any credit line has a negative impact on a consumer’s credit score. As a result, the complaint contends that customers have been forced to accept American Express’ unilateral rate increases.

    If you wish to discuss this action or have any questions concerning this press release, please contact Webb, Klase & Lemond by e-mail at contact(at)webbllc(dot)com or by calling (770) 444-9325.

    Comment by james4 — Sep 20th 2010 @ 4:10 pm
  203. Thank you to initiator of Comment 202 for this important information. Regarding info. about option to close the account in next-to-last paragraph, AmEx refused to let me have that option. I wanted to close my account with the existing interest rate. Another creditor let me do that, but not AmEx.

    I have been hoping for a class action lawsuit against AmEx. I am very happy to hear this news and will contact the law firm.

    Thanks again!

    Comment by Jeanne — Sep 21st 2010 @ 1:52 pm
  204. RE: #202 by james4 – Class Action Lawsuit against American Express

    I spoke with attorney Adam Webb regarding the lawsuit and plan to add my name to it. If you would like to join the class action lawsuit, Mr. Webb says to call him direct at:
    (770) 444-0773.

    Website: http://www.webbLLC.com

    Thank you james4 for providing this information!!!!

    Comment by Jeanne — Sep 21st 2010 @ 2:34 pm
  205. Wow, I’ve been away for too long, stuff seems to be finally happening.

    What will Mr. Webb require from people who wish to join in the class action suit?


    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Sep 26th 2010 @ 3:24 pm
  206. Response to #205:

    If Attorney Webb decides to go ahead with lawsuit, then those listed on the lawsuit would have to provide information (not sure what) regarding having an AE account and our reasoning as to unfair treatment from AE. Also, if we have any record of communication or phone calls. Mr. Webb can explain better. No obligation calling him. I wish there was another way to reach people. Probably a lot of people that posted on this website didn’t check the ‘notify me’ box and don’t regularly check this website.

    Comment by Jeanne — Sep 26th 2010 @ 3:36 pm
  207. Yeah, that’s too bad. Thanks for the info, Jeanne. Maybe someone can come up with a way to reach Amex holders. I believe a class action suit only gathers steam with the amount of people standing behind one. Isn’t that correct?

    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Sep 27th 2010 @ 6:36 am
  208. Response to #207 – I was in one class action lawsuit long time ago. Basically, a few people started it, but then all the people affected by the injustice of the company being sued were notified. If they wanted to be in the lawsuit, then they could respond. Not sure if this one works the same way. I’m probably not explaining this very well. I’d really suggest calling Mr.Webb. No need to give your name unless you decide to become part of it. They’d like a few people I believe before they go ahead with it (There must be thousands if they only could be reached/Law firm cannot by law seek them out). It is the only way I believe to make these companies understand there are consequences to their raising their rates so unjustly.

    Comment by Jeanne — Sep 27th 2010 @ 11:16 am
  209. I am on board with Mr Webb. Lets go get em, now or never. Time for AMEX to exercise some real customer service.
    re: Comment #78

    Comment by Chris Russell — Sep 28th 2010 @ 2:28 pm
  210. Re #209

    So glad you are on board. Hope this works out well. I just noticed that when I commented over a year ago on this website that I mentioned wondering if there would be a class action lawsuit. Hope the message gets out.

    Comment by Jeanne — Sep 29th 2010 @ 4:05 pm
  211. So glad to hear that something is finally being done about AE. I have been calling them every 1-2 months to see if they are willing to reconsider. They won’t give an inch and now they are telling me how great my interest rates currently are at the variable rate. We suffer while they make a profit at our expense.

    Comment by Bsmith — Sep 29th 2010 @ 4:38 pm
  212. Alright, I’ll call Mr. Webb on Friday after discussing it with my wife (it’s really her card anyway) and talk to him about what our options are.

    Things have changed a little for us in the last year. My wife, a masters degree graduate, got caught up in the economic down spiral along with a few million more I guess.

    She was forced to make a call to Amex stating our present position. We had already paid over half of what we owed to them. But, then we had to reach a settlement for the balance.

    Anyway, blah, blah, blah. I looked over some of the old postings. Jeanne you were there from the start. Jbarre and Jude C. posted some good info, along with some others. Kinda felt like we had it going then.

    I’ll call him. If he says my wife and I can’t because we did settle somewhat I’ll let you know and wish all of you the best of luck. I sincerely mean that. I hope they’re nailed. I sincerely mean that, too.

    You might want to go through some of the archives. There is some good info there and ideas that everyone tried to get off the ground. It might be some way to reach everyone in those files.


    Comment by Scott Sinclair — Sep 29th 2010 @ 6:47 pm
  213. Scott, I will also call the attorney and jump on as I have not settled. Doubt you will get another bite of the apple but hopefully some of us will see some financial benefit. I continue to pay monthly and thanks to the PRIME the interest is not too bad “at the moment”. Thanks for calling the past writings to everyone’s attention.

    Comment by Jude Cocuzzo — Sep 29th 2010 @ 7:52 pm
  214. card issuers can increase rates at any time I work for us bank and we will send out the same letter however it is required that we allow the cardmember to opt out of CIT if account is opted out it will result in closure but interest will stay the same there won’t be any changes just reported to credit bureaus after balance hits 0 The only thing is there is a certain amount oftime which is the opt-out period but we state that as plain as day in the CIT letter

    Comment by Matt — Aug 21st 2012 @ 3:15 am
  215. Been a while since I posted #78, see above. Amex is back at it again. Got a dunning call from the credit department saying I had missed a payment. I immediatly check my bill pay and found that I had in fact made the payment. According to American Express it was actually short 29.00. Hmmmm could not figure that out since I have not made a charge on the card in over 5 years. I guess what they have now done is re-calculated the minimum payment causing me to pay more each month. They did this because they wanted to. They notified me back in May that there would be an increase – But Amex sucks so bad I never read there email or statements I just make my payments. God how I hate that company. All they are trying to do is send the account into default, and break my credit standing. There response was “We are only trying to help you pay off your balance faster” Kidding me right? At the outragious interest rate, why would they want that? BTW there was no opt out- and according to them they can re-calculate any time they want and raise the minimum payment. UGGHHHH

    Comment by Chris Russell — Sep 27th 2012 @ 6:19 pm
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