I've had the Fidelity 529 College Rewards American Express card for three years. It was one of my favorite cards. I had a credit limit of $23,000 and had used it as my primary card for shopping at places like Costco, where they only take Amex. I started with 1.5% cashback, which got bumped to 2.0% cash back, and the card had no annual fee. My interest rate was 9.99% fixed. All was well up until three days ago.
I recently got a notice in the mail (March 15) that my account was going to have an annual fee tacked on of $99, scheduled to appear on my April statement. This upset me because one of the main benefits touted on the card was that it had "NO ANNUAL FEE". They said this everywhere and mentioned it on all of their ads. In fact, as of writing, it's still mentioned on the card's latest web advertisement, which has been out for only two months. I didn't get this notice until I started using my card. My account had been inactive for a few months, but when I finally had decided to make use of it and make a $500 purchase, I get this notice that I will be charged the fee if I don't close my account and zero out the balance immediately. If I had kept a balance of even one cent, even if the card were closed, I would still be charged $99, which would have been like paying an additional 237.6% APR on the balance of $500!
I contacted customer service to see how I could get this resolved. They repeatedly said that there was nothing they could do for me. I asked if they could switch me over to a no-fee card. They said that I would have to re-apply for a different card. I told them that I refused to unnecessarily add hard inquiries to my credit report and believed that $23,000 was near the maximum amount of credit available to a customer with my income level. Even if I applied for a new card, the current card I had with them would be used by them to turn me down.
I guess FIA CS doesn't like keeping its long-held loyal customers. Instead of playing along with their bait-and-switch game of adding an annual fee to a clearly advertised as (and STILL marketed as) "no-annual fee" card, I closed my account and paid off the balance in full. I don't know if this was because they figured that since I had a credit limit of $23,000 I could care less about the fee or if it was due to my 3 months of account inactivity. Whatever the case may be, I don't like dealing with dishonest companies that change the rules mid-game.
I am sure that most people probably don't just have $500 sitting around to cover their bases, so I am putting out this warning to all who do business with FIA CS, that ever since MBNA's merger with Bank of America, the company has gone down the drain. Most of their customer service has gone down the drain. There are now long waits on hold and is a deceptive marketing of cards that supposedly have "no-fee" advertised but suddenly have $99 or more due the moment you decide you want to use them. Be wary of them and stick to companies that have a better record.
I think for now I might go back to using my credit card with USAA. I have heard nothing but great things about them.