Today I hate ...

... American Express.

Have you ever

In your life

Received a credit card bill that shows the past month's interest charges


When you pay a bill and the balance is zero after you pay it (assuming you paid on time), then the next bill should be zero, too.

But no: I paid the bill in full--I mean I paid the total balance showing on my statement--and the next month I get a bill for $42.05. The "recent activity" has just one item: $42.05 in interest. Um, interest on WHAT? My zero balance?

But here's the best part: The minimum balance due is $15.

So if you weren't paying attention, you might keep paying that bill for, oh I don't know, EVER? In fact, even if you paid the bill in full, wouldn't you have the accumulated interest on the interest to pay the next month? How would you ever pay that bill off?

I called them and got an extremely cheery woman who suffered my outrage like a saint. You have to pay your balance off two months in a row, she says, before they stop charging interest (this may be true--but it sure as hell doesn't sound right). "Let me explain how interest works," she tells me.

Let me explain, I said, that I know full well how interest works. Let me explain that American Express has a strong brand name--a company that has a reputation as being customer-centric and trustworthy. How many millions is it spending on its current ad campaign to bolster its image?

At a time where consumers aren't spending as much, it doesn't seem to be very smart to act so scummy. (Yeah, that's the only word I could think to describe it: scummy.)

BTW I thanked her for letting me rant and told her I know it is not personally her fault. But, I said, I wanted her to put two notes on my account: first, that I had been promised that if I paid this interest charge my next bill would have a zero balance and second, that I was very angry and wanted to state for the record that American Express is scummy.

It's a small consolation, but at she promised me she'd do both.

Edit: Apparently I am not alone. Check out this story on (and four pages of reactions from consumers with similar stories) on


karenology said...

I heard on NPR that a lot of the credit companies are pulling weird shenanigans like that these days. Part of the credit crunch and our new broken economy, I guess.

Gienna said...

Be awesome if, by the time this recession is over, we were all out of the habit of using credit cards. (Or at least the ones that treat people like sh*t.) I'll look up that interview on NPR--thanks.