In 2005 I got a Washington Mutual Visa card with a decent interest rate. I paid that (and all my bills) on time, paying more than the minimum payment and often paying it off so I didn't always carry a balance. In 2006, Providian (a/k/a Washington Mutual) pre-approved me for another Visa card with them with a higher limit than the first one. I actively used both cards until I was notified in early 2007 that they were applying the default rate (about 30%) to the first card unless I canceled the card. So I canceled the card. I continued to make payments on it, and continued to use the other card actively.
Last fall I even paid it almost off, and I've always paid 3 to 4 times the minimum payment. I've never gone over the limit, and I've never been late on that or any other bill payments. My income has increased, and my credit score has gone up. Then last month the other shoe dropped: they notified me that they were increasing my interest rate to the default rate well over 30%. I protested, naturally, and demanded a reason. Here is what they said: "Periodically, we review the way we do business to see if it is still in line with the rest of the market and the practices of our customers.
In this case, we decided to adjust your Account Agreement to reflect changes in the legal or regulatory environment, improve our ability to respond to market fluctuations, to standardize our business, and/or to change some of our pricing and fees to better fit the different ways our customers manage their accounts. As mentioned in your Account Agreement, we reserve the right to modify/change the terms of your account..." I'm not an idiot. I have an MBA and know what good business is. Providian/Washington Mutual is NOT a good business. What they meant was, "Because we can, we're screwing you, and we'll screw any customer that will let us."
This is bad business. In this economy, with rising prices of fuel and goods, and with the mortgage crisis, the worst thing a credit card company can do is raise rates for no other good reason but to try to line their pockets through greed. Gouge the customer some more, they figure.
Suffice to say, I've canceled the account, since they'd apply that 30%+ to the existing balance which I cannot pay off right this second because I have a kid getting married next month. Not that they care about their customers. Soon they won't have any. Well, that is my hope, anyway. I hope their greed catches up with them. They will then get exactly what they deserve. What they did to me should be illegal.
Do not accept a credit card from Washington Mutual or Providian no matter how good their offer sounds. They claim they don't go by your payment record with other companies (not that it mattered in my case). This may be true. But what they don't tell you is that they will jack up your rates because the market is risky, they get an itch, or because it's Sunday.
If you have an account with them, I strongly recommend you pay it off and close it. Otherwise, you will be their next victim.
Fort Wayne, Indiana