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Last fall many of us got 3 credits cards in one swoop:
- Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines® Visa Signature® Card
- Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines® Visa Signature® Credit Card
- Virgin Atlantic American Express® Credit Card from Bank of America
This was thanks to the research done by Million Mile Secrets (see here and here). The Bank of Hawaii card is issued by FIA Card Services which is part of Bank of America, although FIA uses a different online account management platform than BOA. The primary appeal for many is 1:2 transfers from both programs to Hilton HHonors, now less attractive due to Hilton’s recent devaluation of HHonors points.
These were my first annual fee-charging Bank of America credit cards. I previously had the Schwab credit card which was converted to the no annual fee BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card when Schwab pulled out.
For each of the cards the annual fees were charged a few days after the anniversary statement close, meaning the annual fees were not billed until the 13th month statement.I had gotten the cards in November 2011, the annual fees were not billed until the January 2013 statements.
I had seldom used the 2 BOA cards and there was no retention offer. I converted them to BankAmericard Cash Reward cards among several no fee choices. The CSR was very knowledgeable as he walked through the convoluted conversion process. It involved opening a ticket for the conversion to happen at a later date, just before the statement bill due date, which would trigger the refund and convert the cards. He couldn’t explain why the systems are that way, but he was right and the conversion happened on the date specified without a hitch. The annual fees disappeared, I had $0 balances and 2 new Cash Rewards cards. I had paid close attention to BOA because of the elaborate process. My focus should have been on BOH.
BOH I outright cancelled. There was no retention offer and the downgrade offer was for the $50 annual fee platinum version of the card. The CSR confirmed my account was closed, the fee would be refunded, and everything was complete. My FIA online account showed the account closed and I forgot about the card. Big mistake.
On Sunday I refreshed my credit reports with Citi Identity Monitor, shocked to see each of my scores drop about 80 points from the prior month. I hunted amidst all the green “current” circles and found a yellow “30” triangle under FIA.
I went into my FIA account and found the refund never was processed so a new billing statement was issued with a late charge. I also noticed that FIA’s website does not have the typical alerts that can be activated for things such as payment due. I had not paid attention to this card and had assumed there would be alerts like other cards.
I called in and the agent was very apologetic, the notes in my file were all there, the refund should have been processed, but wasn’t. I am generally quite obsessive about these things, have never missed a payment on anything, yet I made the mistake of trusting that it was being processed. FIA has corrected my account and has issued a correction to the credit agencies, a process they estimate to take roughly 30 days. Hopefully it will be that easy.
Lots of mistakes here, take them as a cautionary tale:
- Getting cards I did not really need or care about
- Not making sure I understood the ‘ins and outs’ of a card issuer new to me
- Not verifying account alerts
- Waiting to cancel until the annual fee was already billed
- Not paying the annual fee – waiting for a refund check is better than a dispute
- Not verifying the refund
Notice all the mistakes are on me. Sure, the bank should have processed the refund, but the onus is on me to get this right.
Take the time to review your outstanding accounts, make sure your alerts and tracking methods are airtight, and pay special care to account closures.
For bedtime reading, read the article and comments of Million Mile Secrets’ Warning: The 5 Dangers of Applying for Credit Cards.