I had a similar experience as the more than 40 reports already filed on this site. About 2 years ago I received an offer for a business card, because of my good credit, @ 7.99% and I could transfer balances in at the similar rate until they are paid off. Furthermore this was a rewards program that paid me from 1 -3% on all purchases. Because it was the most attractive around I have been using their credit extensively.
On my June 2008 statement my charges were still 7.99% and a check withdrawal I used was 19.99% (I didn't realize it jumped that much until I got my statement). Yesterday my July statement arrived and I had enormous interest charges so I looked deeper and found they had moved my base interest from 7.99% to 24.49% and my check withdrawal from 19.99% to 34.99%.
I immediately called customer service and was told there was nothing they could do. I asked for a supervisor and was told the same thing. I too had never had a late payment and had always paid more than the minimum payment, sometimes 4-5 times more. I told the supervisor this and he said there are many variables that cause the interest rate to increase (but he couldn't quote any specifically in my case).
He said that last month (June) they had a change in policy and sent me a notice that the rates were going up and I had to opt out, but that time has now passed. I never received such a notice and told him so. I asked him to reduce the rates to what they were and simply cancel my card.
He said the rates could not be changed. I then told him that in decades as a business man I had never seen this extreme a rip-off. His response was that the economy is bad and they had to protect themselves or they would cease to existthis policy was their protection.
Reading the other reports it appears this was a planned strategy on Advanta's part. Lure in small business owners with an attractive card situation, Keep them interested by leaving things attractive until they run up substantial balances, and then double or triple their rates. I noted that all the other posting were from Utah and Pennsylvania. They must have been trying out this scheme in those states and now, welcome to California where I'm located.
If ever there was a need for a lawsuit, wide-spread internet warnings and government action, this is it!
Los Gatos, California