Credit Limit Reduced W/ No Notice - Stranded In Europe With No Credit Card
I have had an AmEx Starwood card for several years, with a limit of $50K and a balance that went between $40 and $50K each month (average spend about $7K per month, mostly travel related).
Prior to taking a vacation trip, I paid down the AmEx by $25K since I knew I had a lot of expenses coming and I didn't want to worry about the limit.
A week later, as I'm sitting in Chicago on my way to London, I'm making some travel arrangements for May on my laptop and a ticket gets declined.
Turns out AmEx reduced my limit from $50K to $28K, knocking my available credit from $23K to $563. No notice, on a Friday night at 9pm before Easter weekend, week before taxes are due.
Called customer "service" ... nothing they can do, I have a lot of debt, yada, yada. I have a perfect payment history, with them and everyone else, and while I have a lot of debt I have no more debt than I did 1, 2 or 3 years ago when they gave me the limit in the first place. Note, I had just paid the balance down from $48K to $24K, not sure how that makes me seem like a high risk.
So, 45 minutes to board the flight to London, trying to figure out whether I can afford to go since I don't have another card in my wallet with enough available credit to deal with things.
I won't go into *all* the reasons why this is lame, but here are some: (1) creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, lower limits on people and their credit scores go down so they must be "bad risks"; (2) timing has the potential to royally screw people, you could be traveling, you could be about to pay your taxes, all sorts of things, but now you're stuck; (3) creates a frozen credit market ... I'm afraid to pay down the balance more to use the card, because I might do so and have the funds evaporate. In this state, why use credit cards at all, if you can't rely on payments to be available the next day you might as well just use cash for everything.
I was going to keep the account open and work around the limit, but the customer service person I called from London was so irritating I just closed the account. Had to change maybe 20 things that automatically charge it, and have my office FedEx me a credit card from my desk drawer. Spent the first two days of my vacation dealing with this crap, but now I am AmEx-free and when I get back my company will be as well.
AmEx is pure evil, treats their customers with complete contempt, and if there is any justice will go down in flames as people abandon them in droves. The only reason to deal with a financial company is because you trust them, once you lose trust that they will act rationally, ethically or even just not be evil, you can't and shouldn't do business with them.
They were, however, "sorry for the inconvenience" ... although their capricious and arbitrary decision was the only reason that the inconvenience existed in the first place.