Fighting a $15 Late Fee from Citibank
Just a quick note that I got home tonight (Sunday night) from a long 3-day trip across half of Pennsylvania to see an email from Citibank that I’m past due on a payment. I nearly crapped my pants because I have a spotless credit history with absolutely no late fees.
In March, I got replacement credit cards for our Citibank account, but just put them in the pile because I thought they were just new expiration dates. I use a Chase card right now as my primary card, so I didn’t have need of activating the card just yet.
I got a call a couple weeks later from Citibank asking if I got the cards. Apparently, a merchant’s system had been breached so they automatically canceled all cards that may have been stolen and issued new numbers, which included my card. I activated my account then and logged into the account to make sure I didn’t have a balance owed.
I had just paid off over $11,000 from a balance transfer I made to earn interest in a savings account. This card is also the card I attached to E-ZPass (the RFID tag used for toll roads), and I would get auto-billed $25 each time the balance got low. Well, I got billed twice in February from E-ZPass for some reason, and in the mix of the billing and the new cards, I saw the $0.00 balance in the old account as the current balance.
I switched the auto-bill from Citibank to Chase and figured I was done with that card. I didn’t get any statements stating otherwise, until the email today.
The Late Payment
So after seeing the email, I logged into the account, still saw a zero balance, but saw a link to register my new account number. DUH! They issued me a new card, and I just assumed the online account would transfer over. Well silly me! (sarcastic). Apparently the credit card company can issue you a new number anytime, thus screwing up your life.
I’m a proponent of responsible credit card use, and this one incident still won’t deter me from using my credit cards for their relative safety, expense tracking and rewards. But this was a learning experience for me, or at least a reminder, that it’s totally up to me to be diligent about my credit. I previously just relied on reviewing my credit history a few times per year, but I also need to be aware that I’m responsible for ensuring my online accounts are updated and that I know when due dates change.
So I called Citibank in a huff, and explained the confusion over receiving a new card, the online account showing a zero balance, and me not knowing I had to update the registered number online to see the current balance. The lady understood and quickly refunded me the $15 late fee. Additionally, the account was less than 30 days overdue, so it would not affect my credit history or score.
I got it all resolved, but take this as a lesson learned for yourself that you need to always read whatever the credit card company sends you very closely, as well as understand how it impacts any automatic charges or billing you have set up. If your account number changes, you need to update your online account and notify any merchants with whom you have regular charges or subscriptions.