Those Folks at Citibank

While Mac napped this morning I sat down and paid my bills. I’m late paying this month due to me focusing so intently on my book. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t paid bills until the morning we were to fly to Hawaii and I was still frantically writing. Beneath my manuscript was a stack of papers, and in all those papers were unopened bills.

I brought them with me to Hawaii and I got online with B of A and paid. I then went over my various credit card statements since I had time, noting with some shock that my boys have been making a lot of purchases at iTunes. I sent both older sons texts that said no more charging anything at iTunes and then glanced down at the bottom of one of my cards, my oldest card, my Citibank Aadvantage, that I have had since 1989.

My rate was 29.90 %.

I looked at my other cards–7% and 11%.

I called Citibank to ask them to please lower my rate. The best they could do was 21.9%. For twenty minutes we went round and round and round.

I told them that wasn’t good enough. They said that’s all they could do. I said I knew they could do more. They said no, because apparently I’ve had some late payments here and there, and the best they could offer someone like me was the 21.9 percent. And they made it sound like I should be grateful.

I wasn’t grateful. It’s a terrible rate. An indecently high rate still.

And some late payments here and there? Of course.

I’m human and have been with Citibank for over 22 years. I’ve had babies and international travel and lean months and life. I’m a woman who juggles a hell of a lot of balls but I’ve never screwed a bank over.

I asked for a manager. Got Ted. Got nowhere. I asked them that if they couldn’t do better to please close the account. And so Ted did.

It was a really emotional thing. There was no fighting for me. Didn’t matter that I’d been a great customer for over 2 decades. The Platinum status meant nothing. I meant nothing. I was just a rating and my rating locked me in at 21.9%, and that’s all we can do for someone like you, Ms. Porter.

After hanging up, I cried–cried–while I cut up my card.

I had such a long relationship with that Citibank Aadvantage card. I got it in 1989, had it through grad school and my engagement and my first teaching job. Used it to pay tuition and furniture for my first house. That card allowed me to prepare my first nursery for my first baby. I used it to take my family on vacations and it covered my business travel.

I loved accumulating my airline miles and the high high limit which was so high that it really wasn’t a limit. And I didn’t get into trouble with it, either. It was just a security blanket, knowing it was there should I ever need it.

But it’s gone now. And it was good I asked them to close the account. I have two other credit cards with Bank of America, one for Alaska Air miles, and one for Hawaiian Air, and the interest rates are 7% and 11%. Thank you Bank of America. Thank God you value my business.

Now I’m done being sad. I’m going to take Mac to the beach in a few minutes and have a great day.

Without Citibank.


  1. I have a similar story. I have had a certain credit card for over 20 years. A credit card I don’t charge all that much on but use it monthly. My limit was $500. Last fall while planning a 5 week stay in Europe I asked the bank to please raise my limit. They refused. Like you I had made some late payments which they informed me will go against me for something like 6 months. I was very upset. Luckily I had prepaid most everything before my trip and I wasn’t counting on using my cc – it was to be just for emergencies. I would love to cut up my card and get one elsewhere – unfortunately I’m not working and doubt I’d qualify. I really feel for you. Banks make huge profits and all I wanted was a small raise in my limit. Idiots!

  2. I used to work for a company that got “bought out” by CitiBank. Yes, the rates were high. No, they wouldn’t lower the rates. For you or anybody.
    I am glad you got out of that. You will be much happier now, Jane. Keep thinking “long term”. Soon you will wonder why you ever stayed in the first place. You made an informed choice. I am proud of you.
    I use one credit card most of the time. It gives me free groceries ($320 a year for the past three years straight). I used to have Air Miles, but they had so many restrictions that I quit using that card (can’t fly at Christmastime, summertime, March Break, and any other busy time period – when I wanted to fly). We basically have groceries, insurances, and car repairs on our cards. We don’t spend much otherwise, so I consider $320 of groceries a pretty sweet deal, as who can’t use free groceries?
    I must admit, though, that it is sometimes tough to remember to pay the balance each month, and I too got caught once (and they backdated my payment free of charge). Now I pay it as soon as I open the envelope, as I forget so many things nowadays that I can’t afford to forget that!

  3. Jane, I did the same to all of them. I got fed up with fees, paying any interest rate. And then I started whacking away at everything else that was unnecessary. Including my expensive car (it was my Valentine’s Day blog).

  4. Wow! Exhausting.

    That whole thing just frustrates me. I’m glad you took a stand.

    You’ve got me wondering how much my interest rate is now. I’ve had the card for years and years and have no clue how much the interest rate is because I typically pay it off at the end of the month. I did mess up several years back and transposed 2 digits on the payment and it certainly wasn’t in my favor. I about fell over when I was hit with the penalty.

    My mom was turned down for a credit card at one of the major department stores about 10 years ago. It was an embarssement to her. Standing in line and they wanted her to apply for the card so she finally agreed and then they announced in front of all the other customers that she had been denied the credit card. She never shopped again at the store. She always paid bills on time and stuff. That store has lost thousands of dollars, literally, over the years from her.

  5. i had to do the same thing even though i was never late with a payment- EVER! they changed my rate with no reason- well they told me it was because of the economy and new cc rules. yet they give new accounts 0% interest for a year!!!

  6. Sometimes you have to throw off a security blanket because it feels like it could crush you. But when the pain subsides, what you remember always is that you’re a woman who will not be crushed!

  7. I feel for you. We’ve had a tough couple years and missed some payments and the rates have gone way up. The worst one we had to deal with was Citibank too (which we don’t have anymore either). It’s a wonder people who work for those kind of companies can sleep at night knowing how they treat people and make them so upset. Hugs to you Jane. I know I’ve been there with no one to talk to or vent with. You have great friends here and we are all supporting you.

  8. That’s terrible Jane! But your strong!
    Thank goodness for B of A!
    You know life throws us ups and downs.
    I think these type of things are just a test, testing our ability to be strong.

    Banks are one of the worst. We went through 5 banks in seven years, when our small town bank got bought out by a big bank, then again, etc. they sent out new cards, and pin # a few days later to the wrong address, someone cleaned out are account, that was not fun.

    I remember a few years ago I had to call the our insurance company to find out why they didn’t cover a particular doctor visit, when I had pre authorization for the visit. Needless to say i called and called and called, got a different answer every time.I had someone say they would call me and never did. I just could believe it!

    Hope that you have a wonderful time in Hawaii with your Big Boy Ty and your little guy Mac! 🙂
    Happy Belated Birthday! Hope you got my card!

  9. I’m glad you closed your account. That is ridiculous, I would have done the exact same thing. That interest rate was ridiculous! Sheesh!
    I try not to use credit cards at all, and if I do I try my hardest to pay them off right away. But, it’s hard sometimes! :/

  10. The memories are forever yours! The high interest solely belongs to them now! I think you got the better end of the deal!!

    Hang in there, I know it sucks. And on that note, beware also of Barclay, the company which offers a 12 mo interest free card when purchasing Apple products. I was a day late, once, the first time, and they would not even consider reversing the fees. They stated they didn’t owe me anything I was the one who opened the account and accepted the terms. Nice, huh!

  11. Jane,

    It is sad that the credit card companies and quite frankly nearly everyone else has taken the person out of customer service and it is now all about numbers….Numbers that someone else has made up for their rules with no room for shades of gray!

    I am counting down the days until I can leave Verizon. My contract is officially over Feb 28, 2011. I have been with them for about 15 yrs(started when they were Airtouch.) Right before Thanksgiving, my old phone got a crack in it and I had been wanting a new “smart phone” anyway, so I went to the local store and got an ENVY…… Well in the 13 days I owned the phone, it had deleted all my pictures and video clips on my sd card (some were so irreplaceable like my Grandma singing, she has the final stages of Alzheimers.) When I took the phone in, they were like oh well, you should have backed them…..I know I should have, but I didn’t. The phone chose when it wanted to ring, repeatedly said “droid” in a friend’s ear everytime I called her. I would reply to txt messages I sent out with a message I had previously sent out, randomly. I was at the store almost everyday, they would reboot it, do all kinds of stuff to it, and something new would happen to it. So after 13 days of this. I told them, I just want to return it and get a different phone (a more expensive one by 100 dollars) I was told that even though they have 30 day return policy for satifaction guarantee, that I would have to pay a 30.00 restocking fee. I told why would I want to do that when this phone is oviously a lemon and I’m giving you a 100. more. They would not budge at the store, even tried to talk to the manager. Called Verizon customer service, explained everything and they could see all that had happened with the phone, etc. I was told they might “try” to reverse the 30. fee, but they couldn’t guarentee they would take it off when I purchased a new phone. They didn’t seem to care that I had been a loyal customer for 15 yrs…. After going round and round with them, I ended up having to pay the 30. going back to my cracked phone, because I refused to get a new phone at that point and get a new 2 yr contract! I told them I will be leaving you as soon as this contract is up! Only a few more days!!!!!

  12. Great for you for closing the account- if they don’t appreciate you has a customer for more than 20 years there are enough companies out there that can give you better deals.

  13. A few more Ms. Porters, who take a stand and don’t back down, and CitiBank will be the one crying. Good for you. You are so much better off for it. Go where you’re appreciated. I don’t think CitiBank realizes how much they lost with you. I don’t think anyone reading your post will deal with them. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Mac was trying to tell you something in that last picture of him going through your mail…too cute. Have a super week!

  14. You did the right thing Jane. You are more then just a dollar sign and businesses that don’t see things like that are the ones needing bailed out constantly. I hope the beach helped.

  15. Shame on Citibank! All I can say is that they have lost a great customer. I currently have an Amex card and love it, they seem to really take care of their customers.

    Love you Jane! I get very emotional at times, so I can very much relate!!

  16. The problem with credit card companies is that they don’t see the person. They see the numbers. If we all did that we would miss so much wouldn’t we? Their loss, your gain.

  17. If anyone can cheer you up, it is Baby Mac! Seeing his photo always makes me smile. Glad to see that you have citibank off your back.

  18. Good for you Jane. Little do they know that you have a website and now lots and lots of people are going to see how horrible they were to you and as we know it gets passed along and passed along. Hopefully more people close their accounts. It’s too bad that they can do that to people because some people really need the card even if the interest is too high.
    At least you’re in Hawaii and you can enjoy the beach and relax.

  19. When I divorced two years ago we closed all shared accounts and I started saving for an emergency fund. I never opened a card in my name and it feels SO good to be debt free (except for my mortgage)!

  20. Oh my goodness…what is wrong with businesess now adays? Businesses are made of people. Without the people there would be no business. Good for you for standing up for yourself.
    Bliss on the beach with your baby beats stinky Ted at citibank anyday!

  21. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that while you’re in Hawaii trying to relax after “birthing” your book. We have all made a late payment occasionally just from busyness if not lack of money and I would think they would care more about your time with them. It’s strange how we feel about credit cards, they’re almost like companions or something, I memorized my Case Visa number long ago and would hate to have to get a new one because of the the memories attached this one, just as you said. It made me laugh when you described finding the bills at the bottom of the pile, been there!!!

  22. Good for you! It will be a year in March since I did the same as you. I will never forgot the Manager “Mary” who was the last person I spoke with. I said I have been with Citibank since 88, when I tried reasoning she responded “Maam, this is wasting my time”. Good Bye Citibank, Your Loss!!

  23. You were right to stand up for yourself. Sorry they would not work with you. Hope you have a fun time in Hawaii and enjoy island time!

  24. This was such a great read I think it should go viral! What are the copyright laws?? …I want to post it on FB!

    I had the exact same situation with my bank of 20 years but could never have written about it the way you did. I haven’t read your books YET but know about them from our mutual tall, gorgeous ‘hair gal’ – we were both laughing at a story she told while sitting in adjacent chairs a few months ago.

  25. Funny how a person can get emotionally attached to a credit card! I have a Nordstrom Best card, the first credit card I ever got, and I refuse to give it up for the new version. When I use it at the store, which isn’t that often, (I am not the fashionista I was when I was young), I get stares and sometimes the sales folks pass it around! If they refuse to ever take it, I will refuse to buy anything at Nordstroms.
    I have cards from Frederick & Nelson and The Bon Marche in my dresser drawer; old friends that no longer have a store attached.
    That nasty bank treated you badly and who could blame you for cutting it up – but how sad to have to destroy it by your own hands. Cruel and heartless CitiBank!

  26. It wasn’t long ago that you had a full 30 days to pay a bill and you weren’t late until day 31. Now you’re late 1 day past the due date, penalized $25-$40 and your credit’s affected for 7 years!

    My Chase credit card had inched it’s way up to 29.9%. The limit had also increased to $8,000. I was working to improve my debt ratio on my credit score so I paid it down to $1000. The minute I paid it they brought my limit down to $1,000. What a slap in the face, not to mention defeating my purpose. I couldn’t pay the final $1,000 fast enough and tear the card up! Now it’s gone and I’m glad. A POX ON ANY BANK THAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THEIR CUSTOMERS!

  27. Hi Jane,
    I feel your pain. Sort of like a betrayal.
    About 3 years ago I left the bank I had been using for 25 years. It was very unsettling and sad for a bit. But all is better now. 🙂

  28. Sad, but more fool they. I can’t quite get it out- Commercial relationships are usually disappointing and not enduring. The meaning the have is one-sided, meaning we ascribe to them. Even though it is usually in their best interest to bend as you requested, some corporations can’t quite do the right thing to maximize their income. Business consultants make good money coaching units like Citicorps how not to alienate the customers who provide cashflow.

  29. Sorry to hear about your problem with Citibank. Boy, the credit card industry can be brutal. Some companies are just looking for ways to gouge their customers – 29.9% is criminal!

  30. an interest rate of 29.9% is outrageous…i know someone who has one of that rate and they set her minimum payment as $25.00, and then if you look closer, the interest charges every month are $23.75!!!!!!! it would never get paid off that way (and the balance was only $1000 total!). the best credit card i have right now is capitol 1. sorry they treated you that way at citibank, but if they are going to be that way, you don’t deserve your business. it is their loss for sure!!!!

  31. I’m catching up on all your blogs….and I had almost the EXACT same story with Citibank. Same interest rate and almost the same start date (1991) And i have a freakishly large credit line with them (why – I do not know!). So I paid it off….and did not close it. (I have other credit cards) and I laugh when they send me interest free for 1 year balance transfer offers….really? You Charge me 30% to use the card responsibly (admittedly a few days late here and there …..4 babies, remember), but you’ll charge me nothing to transfer huge sums of money – and give me the chance to pay it off for a year interest free? So, don’t take it personal.

    I was advise not to close it – because that affects you credit rating:(…even if you close it. Get another card so you have more open (unused) credit to keep your credit score high.

    Hate banks:).

    But I have a super emotional attachment to my AMEx – so I can relate to the crying. The day we (hopefully never) part will be terrible.

  32. I have to say about itune. My son keep buying it from itune too. But I don t put credit card info on itune account (turned it off) and my son gets $15 a month card so that he can redeem on itune online and spend many as he have 15 dollars left once it is gone he has to wait until next month to get another one. It really helps.

    I really hate that credit card part and Im working hard to paying off debts. Keeping them is not worth but only for emergency is fine. Have you thought about paying off and start putting cash in saving.

    Interests always mess up on every companies because no matter if you are good on paying or just few back missed pay and it can hurt the interest gain. I paid off quickly the one with highest interest then close them. It is not worth to use credit card at all.

  33. Good for you, Jane, for standing up for yourself! Just wanted to say make sure all the iTunes charges were truly your boys. I buy books and all so my husband usually assumes they are mine. Then all of a sudden one month the charges were $3.00 -$45.00 then one for a couple hundred. Not ours! All to itunes!? This is not even the card we have for itunes. Found out card had been compromised. Hope that is not the case but always best to make sure.

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