Monday, January 11, 2010

Seriously? You're Gonna Play Me This Way?

Just got another credit card statement from Citibank.

Lately, it's been a bit of a surprise when I open the statement -- just to see what I'll get.  Recently, there was that late fee (and finance charge increase to 29.99%) for failing to pay on time, except I had paid on time by a transfer from my Citibank checking account -- which I could confirm just by looking at my account online.  They confirmed it too, so reversed the charge.

Today's statement came with a $1.50 "Foreign Transaction Fee."  This was a puzzler as I hadn't bought anything in a foreign currency -- and my understanding of the whole "foreign transaction fee" thing is it's added on to the exchange rate for the service they've provided in exchanging currency or something similarly logical.  Not so much.  The Foreign Transaction Fee is charged because I'm transacting business with someone foreign, even though the entire transaction was done in U.S. dollars.  So, they hit a button somewhere crediting this bank with some U.S. currency, and charge themselves a cool three percent.

I'm not entirely surprised by this, but a bit disappointed.

I also have three Citibank credit cards, and it sounds like it's time one of them should go -- to perhaps be replaced by a Credit Card I'll Use For Foreign Transactions Only.  (Of course, that wouldn't have saved me from the fee here, as I had no freakin' idea the charge was a foreign transaction, but there's a principle at stake here.)  And, y'know, if I end up using their card for other domestic transactions instead of my Citi cards, well, that's just Citi's loss, isn't it?  (Clearly, as I'm paying on time and they are therefore not making 29.99% interest off me, I'm not high on their list of Customers To Retain.)

Still, it's not quite worth leaving the bank for -- they've generally been good to me.  They reverse baseless charges (and, on occasion, even charges that aren't entirely baseless, if I ask nice), and their fraud prevention has been rather remarkable on picking up on fraudulent charges.

I poke around the internet and discover that Capital One does not charge foreign transaction fees, so they seem like the best bet for my new Foreign Transaction Credit Card.

I foolishly google for reviews.  Pages and pages of people hating on Capital One.  Customer service sucks; baseless charges; "worst bank ever" and so forth.  

For comparison, I then google for reviews of Citibank.  Same thing.  Pages and pages of customer service sucks; baseless charges; and "worst bank ever."

I'm sensing our issues are industry-wide.

1 comment:

Peg said...

We have a Capital One card just for foreign travel purposes. Never had any problems with their customer service except you do need to call them if you are going to travel or do foreign purchases. Tried to buy UK train tix online and was blocked without explanation by transaction was denied. I thought it was the website. Once I called, it was fine.