When Balance Transfers Go Bad!


What happens when your credit card company changes the terms of your balance transfer agreement? A reader, Michael, sent this question in:

I have a credit card with Chase that was a balance transfer for a “life of the loan” interest rate of 2.99% with a payment of 2% of the balance. They claim to have sent me a letter saying they were changing the agreement of that loan.

The minimum payment would now be 5% of the balance which makes the payment out of my range. I had to agree to change the terms of my loan now to 7.9 % interest until 2011 now to receive that 2% payment on the balance.

This is really criminal. I was wondering what protection I have as a
customer in good standing? Is there anything I can do about this?

Unfortunately Michael, Chase is somewhat notorious for changing the terms of it’s agreements unexpectedly. Usually in your account holder agreement you can find a line that says something to the effect of
“We reserve the right to change the terms of this agreement at any time, for any reason.”

So, even though you’ve been an excellent customer, and done nothing to warrant the change, it’s still legal.

My best advice is to find another credit card to balance transfer your debt to. Hopefully one with a better interest rate, and lower monthly payments.

If you’d like to check out some of Chase’s competitor’s offers, you can take a look at our reviews here:

  • Balance Transfer Credit Card Reviews
  • We also had another reader, K, who wrote in with this question:

    My husband requested that I become a authorized user on his account but now after requesting that my name be removed the company is trying to say that becoming a authorized user automatically makes you a joint member. Is that true? They are reporting this on my credit report.


    The difference between an authorized user and a joint account holder is simple: A joint account holder is responsible for the debt just like the main account holder. An authorized user is not.

    Both authorized users and joint account holders have a record of the account on their credit reports.

    To answer your question, being an authorized user does not usually make you a joint account holder automatically.

    Regardless, if you want to have your name removed from the account, call them back and tell them that you never authorized your name on the account, and you want it removed. Have your husband handy so that he can tell them the same thing. If you are an authorized user and not a joint account holder they will have to speak to him, and not you.

    If the credit account is past due, you may need to make a payment with them in order to have your name removed from the account.

    If the customer service representatives refuse to cooperate with you, ask for a manager. If the manager won’t help you, hang up, and call back a different time to speak with a new manager.

    As long as the account is current (or under a repayment plan) then you should have no problem getting your name removed from the account.

    If the shared account is hurting your credit rating, then get your name removed from it first. Afterwards, follow that up by challenging the account on all three of your credit bureau reports. Do this under the grounds that you never authorized your name to be used on the cards.

    We had one last question from our reader J:

    I have a question for you.

    I had a Capital One card back in 2005 and wasn’t able to pay it on time and it became a charge-off. I ended up paying the debt in full and have since, opened up another account with Capital One and have a card with them in good standing. Is there a way for me to negotiate them into reopening my charged-off account so that I can get that off my credit report?

    I don’t have any other negative information on my credit report besides that one and would like that one negative mark off my credit report.

    Thanks for your question J!

    You may well be able to negotiate with Capital One to re-open your closed account.

    Before you do that though, you could simply try challenging the item on your credit report. This is how the law works: once you challenge an item on your credit reports, Capital One will have 30 days to verify that the debt is legitimate. If they do not verify it, the credit bureaus must remove the item from your credit report completely.

    Since this is an older account there is a good chance that Capital One will not bother to verify it, and your problem will be solved.

    Now, if you do want to re-open the account, simply give them a call and ask them to do it. The worst they can say is no. Since you paid the account in full, and you have another account in good standing, I would say there is a good chance that you can have that old account re-opened.

    If you do get it re-opened, make sure that you check your credit reports a month or two later. That will let you know whether or not the account is still showing up as having been charged off.

    For complete instructions on how to challenge an item on your credit report, you can read this article:

  • How to Dispute An Item On Your Credit Report
  • Have a question for us? Leave a comment below!

    Keep Reading and Grab Our Free RSS Feed:

    Related Posts:

    • No Related Posts

    Leave a Reply

    6 Responses to “When Balance Transfers Go Bad!”

    1. BlueJeans Says:

      Thank you Mr. CC for your article,

      I have a question that relates to J’s question and your response. Since our credit score is 30% debt ratio on open accounts and closing those accounts can hurt our credit score, would opening them back up improve our score? (If it is allowed by those companies.)

      I had several credit cards in the past that I paid off and closed before I realized how that action was not helping my credit score. It would be cool to think that the opposite would help improve my credit score.

      Thank you for your time,

    2. shaam Says:

      My response to Michael with the Chase Balance Transfer is that he should DISAGREE in writing with the change. Chase will close the account but his 2% minimum payment & 2.99% APR will remain until the account is totally paid off. Yes, it may cause his credit score do dip for a short time but it is better than not being able to make the minimum payment on the account.

    3. J Says:

      Thanks for the response, Mr CC. I already tried to validate the debt but they unfortunately validated it on Equifax already. I think I’m going to try and have them open it back up and see if they would be willing to do that.

    4. Jack Says:


      I had a few things I wanted to inquire regarding Michael’s question. I know people are being taken advantage of everyday over the phone and with refinancing due to the “We reserve the right” fine print, are there ways to fight these transfers or agreements due to being misconstrued, unlawfulness, or being misinterpreted? Would there be any reason to pursue BBB, FTC, State Attorney’s Office, Small Claims Court, or Arbitration, etc., or would this just be a waste of time, money, and effort? Would this actually get me anywhere if I was to make claims against them? I understand it’s more of a my word versus theirs but would it matter? Does this ever happen and does anyone other then the credit card companies ever win? I know that on several occasions balance transfers for myself and others that the terms change and they balance transfer your accounts without anything ever being signed other than the original agreement and you just default to whatever terms and percentages they fell like you should get, but is there any sort of protection for the consumers? Anywhere?

      Thank You,


    5. Julie Dozois Says:

      On 12/07/05 I received a letter from Individualized Card Services, which is supposed to be FIA Card Services. They state as a valaued customer that they are sorry I refused the Minimum Payment Calculation change. They said I will no onger have charging privileges on my account, effective immediately. When I asked why they were changing my monthly payments to almost double, they said that President Bush signed a bill called the OCC Regulation, in which credit card holders would have to double their monthy payments. I do not believe there was any such billed ever signed by President Bush. They told me to shred my credit card, which I did. I feel I have been lied to, and I don’t like it. I have never been late on my payments to the credit card company ever.This all happened in 2005, and it is 2009, is there a statute of limited of 3 years in New Hampshire, which states after three years after closing my account that I can state that fact to them and say SOL. I have still paid them every month without being late, so what can I do? Thank you…..

    6. jam Says:

      What if you closed a credit card account but want to transfer the balance to a lower interest rate card is that still possible?

    Credit Card | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | About Me | Contact Me