Sometimes, it pays to let a decent credit card go.
I've had my share of credit cards through the years, and generally, I try not to close an account unless there's a really good reason for it. I know that having long-standing accounts can actually help my credit score, so generally, that's reason enough for me to hang onto a card, even if I rarely use it.
But years ago, I wound up canceling a credit card that I did use pretty frequently. Here's why.
The importance of good customer service
I'm the sort of person who prides herself on being financially responsible. In fact, I've never actually carried a credit card balance in all the years I've held my cards. I've always managed to charge expenses responsibly and pay my bills in full to avoid racking up interest charges.
I also have a solid history of being timely with my bills. But one month, I hit a snag.
Normally, I get an email notification from each of my credit cards letting me know when my bill is due. That, in turn, prompts me to log into my account and schedule each payment.
One month, I never received that email for the card in question. To this day, I don't know why it never came through. The credit card company insists it was sent, but it never hit my inbox (I even checked my spam folder, just in case).
Now you can probably see where this is going. In the absence of getting that email, I forgot to schedule my payment. So I got hit with a late fee, and only once I got that notification and a past due bill did I realize what had happened.
At that point, I'd been a cardholder for several years and had never been late on a payment, so I figured I'd just call up customer service, explain the situation, and get that fee waived. Well, that didn't happen. The representative I spoke to insisted I should've gotten that email and that she couldn't waive the late fee. I then asked to speak to her supervisor, who was similarly unhelpful.
Even though I'd never made a late payment and this was my first offense, and the account wasn't horrendously past due (it was somewhere between the 30- and 60-day mark), my credit card company refused to budge. So from that moment onward, I refused to remain a cardholder.
Most of us don't think about customer service when we seek out new cards. Rather, we tend to focus on credit cards with the best cash back opportunities and rewards programs. But good customer service is also an important thing to look for.
The card I canceled after my frustrating customer service experience was a good card otherwise. I liked the rewards program, and I used the card regularly. But I wasn't willing to stay on as a cardholder with a company that valued my business so little that it wouldn't waive a single late fee. If you have a bad experience with your credit card company's customer service team, you may want to consider closing your account as well. And that's especially true if canceling won't badly damage your credit score and you can find a replacement credit card that offers great rewards.
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