"AMEX Vacation Horror!"

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Written by: theo11 on 2008-06-23

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theo11's review: Here is my AMEX horror story: On 6/11, my limit was $5,000. I was right at my limit, so I paid $1,000 on the 11th and $1,050 on the 12th. A few hours later, I asked for a credit limit increase (to $10,000) online. I was denied. When I called CS on the 13th, they told me that they would not counter offer because of my credit report. Cool, no problem. I went on vacation on the 15th to Disneyworld (1,000 miles away) with my family with more than $2,000 to spend. After a couple of relatively small charges on the way down, I tried to charge $100 to get into an attraction and after two swipes, my card was declined twice. I called AMEX to "clear up the mistake." Much to my dismay, the CS Rep said that my credit limit had been LOWERED to $3,300. I have had this card for almost a year and started off with a $1,000 limit. I asked for an increase three months later to $5,000 and it was approved online. I have never been late on a payment and always paid well above the minimum payment that they asked for. The rep said that they appreciated that, but it was based on my other cards and their balances relative to their limits. After explaining my situation (vacation 1,000 miles from home), they extended me a "courtesy" of an additional $700 to "help me get home." I strongly believe my credit limit increase request prompted AMEX's action (lowering my limit). I guess the moral of the story is keep utilization low on ALL cards. My history with them meant little in the overall grand scheme of things. I have learned my lesson, and will pay down my balances on my other cards too. My goal is to get back to my $5,000 (and more) limit by the end of the year. Will report back later as things develop. Thanks, all.

14 Comments

Comment 1 by thomas1
AMEX on 2008-06-23

I hate to hear stories like that, but I am not surprised with AMEX. They did the same to me back in 2000. I had the Gold Amex, and Optima... My Optima line was at 7800$, but I was near the monthly ceiling on my Gold Amex, which I paid off monthly, sometimes to the tune of 10K...(company expenses mostly). My ratio on the optima was 40% usage, and they declined my charge on the optima card by lowering the credit limit to a ridiculous 2400$ from 7800$... I promptly paid them both off and closed them... I will never deal with AMEX again... Citi Rules!!
Comment 2 by eric
WOW! on 2008-06-24

Wow Theo... I have heard that AMEX pulls this kind of crap but never thought it could happen to one of us here at FG. I think that's pretty sneaky and I have never been a fan of a bank lowering someones CL immediately. Bof A does the same thing and so does Chase and Citi unfortunately. Yes the CLI request might have opened a can of worms. Atleast AMEX gave you the pity $700 to get back home w/ your tail between your legs. BofA, Chase & Citi would have stranded you in my experience.
Comment 3 by mark
No More Credit Cards on 2008-06-24

Lessons learned here.

from now on, when on a vacation... Whether here or outside the country.

1. Use a debit card with VISA/MC logo

2. Use cash

3. Travellers cheque

the glamour of using a credit card is no longer there. and almost all companies are trading good customer services to business strategies.
Comment 4 by hjm331
RE: Mark on 2008-06-24

Do you have any cards with Bank of America? I haven't had any problems with them. I have 2 cards with them and I have not heard too many people getting their lines decreased. If they do cut the lines, it's because of a specific reason. They don't make any non-sense moves.
Comment 5 by kmoney
That Is Horrible on 2008-06-24

This is sooo terrible, those heathens!!! What did they say after you told them to close both of your accounts?
Comment 6 by hjm331
Hype on 2008-06-24

I guess this is what we get for listening and applying for an AMEX card.
Comment 7 by meya
OMG on 2008-06-24

This is ridiculous, I am no longer interesting in applying for an AMEX card. I just mentioned this incident in the network if it was to happen to someone and now it has become a true statement. Please add this story to the Network for us so that others can get a good glimps at it. I am sorry to hear what happened to you. Here is a good link to add it to, just copy and paste it over.

http://www.financeglobe.com/FN/showthread.php?496
Comment 8 by thomas1
AMEX HORROR on 2008-06-24

In case anyone ever has this happen to them, and I hope it never does, just remember that Citi used to have what was called an emergency cli limit on each account. We did when I worked for them as a sup. Depending on the history of the account, not past due, overlimit, etc... Every account had a "stored cli emergency amount". That is what really made Citi famous over all of the years... I can't tell you how many times I had to get a cardmember home from a bad experience, whether it be a flat tire, car trouble, etc. Citi is really heads above the other issuers in that dept... That is why is still stand by them to this day... Most people do not know that tidbit about them... Just remain in good standing with your account, the amount just sits in a "bank" on the account... But, they only allow it to be used as extreme emergencies!! Something to keep in mind
Comment 9 by eric
BofA on 2008-06-25

HJM, your right about it being a good reason why they reduced the CL... I have seen ALOT of accounts have there CL's drop mainly because the cardholder is in debt up to his/her neck and had there BofA card sock drawered only to use AFTER there to the max on there other cards. So to prevent a possibly HUGE loss on our side you could see a $25k CL being dropped to $2500... Lol then the customer gets MAD AT US! Any consumer who has sense would not loan money to Uncle John when they see that he owes everybody in the family thousands of dollars. Atleast not in business terms, I guess if he had a family to feed then it would be a different story but you get what Im saying.
Comment 10 by arod
Amex on 2008-06-25

I'm sorry to hear that and I have this card and I never had this problem. But a lot of creditors are changing the way they do business my credit line is still $3000 and they just lowered my payments and APR.

How ever I'm a loyal AMEX card holder and I hope this is not a pattern.



Oh well goodluck to you.

Alex
Comment 11 by mrrob
Your Not The First on 2008-06-25

Amex is known for doing this. This is not the first that I have heard of these type of horror stories
Comment 12 by irishpm
Stick With Citi... on 2008-06-27

I had a similar experience in Dec 2007 but not with AMEX. Flew to the Bahamas for vacation, arrived at the hotel and at check-in handed the front desk person my CITI Visa and it was declined... Twice. I asked the hotel manager if I could please use the desk phone (my cell phone didn't work in Freeport) and I called CITI.

Apparently from the time I left my home, parked at the airport, flew to Freeport, Bahamas (about 3 hours), someone had made about $11,000 in unauthorized charges on my account and CITI 'suspended' my account.

The only other card I had with me was my Visa debit card (like an idiot I left my AMEX in my desk drawer at work) with a $1,200 balance.

After explaining to CITI that I was in the Bahamas on vacation, the CSR got her supervisor on the phone and they gave me an emergency 'credit line increase' for $2,500. They also shipped me another card via FED EX and the card arrived the next day.

CITI will definitely take care of you in an emergency.
Comment 13 by lindalu
Happened To Me Too on 2008-07-05

I transferred a balance to another card and wanted to my my Citicard with me on vacation... I don't know if the large balance transfer alarmed them but my $10,000 limit went to $700!!! Luckily I happened to check my account on line before I left and noticed and took another card... But I will oftentimes take the money I saved for vacation and just apply it to my credit card so I don't have to take so much cash..

Eric, you are right about people owing people all over and you getting stiffed... But I feel that the credit card companies shouldn't offer limits so high in the first place... I had available credit in my name alone on all my credit cards that was 3 times my annual salary!!! (before taxes!!)
Comment 14 by colonative
B Of A on 2008-08-22

I've had B of A Visa Gold since 5/01 and they keep incrasing my credit line to almost ridiculous levels, it is now at $19,000. I use very little of my available credit on all my cards though; high credit usage must be what sets them off.
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