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Credit card warning

I'm glad President Obama is taking on the credit card companies.

I've recently been burned by a big one, one of those banks that took the bailout money and ran, and I'll share here what I learned in case it can help you.

I pay cards off each month, like clockwork, and I sent my first payment in on a new card.

Didn't think anything of it. Mailed my check two weeks before it was due.

I didn't think about it until I was in St. Louis on a weekend in late February and tried to use the card at two merchants. Both said it was rejected. Fortunately, I carried another card on that trip.

I called the big bank on a Sunday night and found out that they stopped the card after not receiving payment on schedule. They stopped it a couple days after the payment was due. No warning or anything like that. They just stopped it.

I found out the next day that the check apparently never arrived and therefore wasn't processed. I stopped payment on it and issued another check to cover the full balance and the outrageous late fee.

I called the big bank several times to explain the situation and then to find out if my new check had arrived. It didn't for 10 days. Then, finally it showed up and I told the bank I wanted the card canceled.

I told the third or fourth person that I was angry about this and wondered if this is how they treat their customers now. They said it is. There's no warning or anything if a payment is missing, The card apparently is stopped, and it doesn't matter if you have good credit or not.

Or so I was told. I ended up getting paid the late fee a few weeks later and have moved on. But that big bank lost business, and I just wonder how many others customers are having this problem.

It's more than jacked up rates with credit card companies. My advice is to mail your payment the day the bill arrives and monitor whether it shows up. Or you might be surprised someday.