What's with the credit card companies?

A Penalty For Using Your Credit Card?

When you sign up for a simple credit card, (American Express in my case) you have to phone them to activate the card. If you're a secondary card holder, this is a simple automated phone call. If you're the primary card holder, however, they want to get one of their salespeople (and make no mistake, these are salespeople, not service reps) to talk to you. They will try to convince you to take out balance insurance, since it costs nothing if there is no outstanding balance. What they don't tell you is that no outstanding balance does not mean if you don't pay off the card each month but means if you ever use the card. So, their salespeople are getting you sign up for a fee which penalizes you for using the card even if you always pay it off in full!

Of course, once you realize you've been scammed, you can just phone them up and cancel the extra fee, right? Wrong! When you call back to the same people that sold you the extra fee, they inform you that they cannot cancel it; that you have to call the actual insurance company, with whom you, of course, have never done any business.

The only sensible recourse seems to be to accept that the credit card issuer wishes to penalize you for using the credit card, and learn from your mistakes; don't use the card. How they expect to do any business when they explicitly penalize their own customers for using the card (and thereby accruing interest for them) is beyond me!

Usual disclaimer: This page is based on my personal experience. If you're lucky, your experience may be better.

This page maintained by Rob, at the obvious email address (that would be my first name @ ewan.com, in case any of the credit card companies want to answer).