How Credit Card Companies Try to Trick You and Make it Difficult to Pay Promotional Balances on Time So They Can Charge You More Interest
Tricky Payment Procedures
Today I once again found myself shouting at the phone as I listened to a voice menu. I was trying to allocate a credit card payment to a specific promotional balance. There is no prompt for that on the voice menu. I won’t name the credit card. Perhaps you also use it when you pay for medical, dental, and related services.
This card makes it very easy to charge your fees when services are provided. If your fee reaches a certain minimum, which varies with the provider, you can take advantage of a promotional offer that may delay interest charges for up to 18 months. If you pay the balance of that account before the end of the promotional expiration date, you won’t have to pay the interest at all. It’s a great deal — as long as you pay off that balance on time.
What you should know is that some banks make it as hard as they can for you to do that. I have learned in past months that I can no longer just go online and make my minimum required payment. I have to make my payment online and then call a representative to have part of the payment allocated toward paying the balance that will come due next.
The image above from a previous statement shows in the third column how much deferred interest will be due if I don’t pay the balance off completely before the promotion expires. Today I wanted to pay the remaining balance on the offer expiring next month, which is now less than $200. If I don’t, I will owe that balance plus the entire deferred interest of $500.87.
Here’s why I was screaming at the phone
There was something new on the automated voice menu. They wanted to charge me a $10 service fee for making that phone payment if I did not use their automated system. But they won’t let you use the automated system to allocate the payment. You cannot do it unless you go through a live representative. (Last month I was allowed to make a payment by phone for free and then ask the rep to allocate the payment after she had accepted it.) The procedure seems to change each month. I write it down so I can follow the current method the next month.
I checked the help files online to see if I’d missed something. But everything led back to the same number I had called and the same voice menu.
So How Does One Allocate Payments without a Service Charge?
I called the number again and after another infuriating romp through the menu options, I finally got a representative on the phone. I asked her how to allocate my extra payment without paying the $10 service charge by using a representative. She said they can waive the fee if that’s why you are calling.
If you find yourself caught in this predicament, here is the procedure to use with this particular bank and credit card. It may also be true for dealing with others.
- Make your payment as usual online or by using the free automated phone system.
- The same day use the 800 number on the back of your card or on your statement and speak to a customer service representative. Tell her you want to allocate a payment you just made. Ask her to waive the service fee. Be sure to write down the representative’s name on your copy of the statement.
Banks don’t like loaning money for free. They make their offers attractive to those who need money fast for big bills. Before using any credit card promotional offer, read all the terms, and especially the fine print. Don’t assume anything. All credit cards and banks have their own policies.
Before using any credit card promotional offer, read all the terms, and especially the fine print. Don’t assume anything.
Sometimes one has to use credit card promotional offers to pay large unexpected bills. So far we have used this card to save thousands of dollars in interest by taking advantage of these offers when we have large dental bills. So we are willing to put up with the inconvenience of having to call in every month to keep current. We don’t like it, but I concede what I save in interest pays for my time and frustration.