Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Two credit card changes in one week — BofA has been busy!

Emily Crone

The other day, my colleagues and I discussed the issue of what happens to your student credit card after you graduate college. It’s not very wise to cancel it, as it’s usually most students’ oldest line of credit. One co-worker said he called his bank after graduating, and they switched his student card to a regular credit card for him. I didn’t realize you could do that. I decided that would be a good move for me now that I have been out of college more than a year, especially because I only use my student card for my automated monthly gym membership dues.

Two days ago, before I got around to making the call to my bank, I actually received a letter in the mail from them on that exact subject. (What are the odds?) The letter says, “Congratulations. We have recently converted your Bank of America Student Card account to a Bank of America Platinum Plus Visa. Your new card will prepare you for all the opportunities ahead.” It said I should be receiving my new card in the mail in the next few days.

The letter did not say what my new APR would be, so I just called customer service to ask. The representative said my APR would be the same: 15.99 percent, nearly one percent higher than the current national average (14.71 percent). I asked her why they would switch me from a student card to a regular card if I would have the same APR (student cards notoriously have the highest rates), and she tried to explain that the student card was secured. I told her it wasn’t; it was a regular credit card. Then she made an excuse about how the student card had different benefits and now I had “graduated” to a regular card, but in truth, all that changed was the name of the card and my account numbers. Lesson learned: Just because you graduate from school and a student credit card doesn’t mean you graduate from a crappy interest rate.

I have a reward card with the bank that I applied and qualified for several months after building credit with the student card, and it has a lower APR. Looking back, perhaps I should have asked for the student card to be transferred to a regular card rather than applying for a separate one. I wish I had known that was an option! Especially because I also have a Capital One card, and I really don’t need three credit cards. Good thing I’ve got some discipline.

Yesterday I opened my mail and saw another letter from my bank. I fully expected it to be the credit card replacing my student card, but instead it was a replacement debit card. At first, I thought they had made a huge mistake. Then I read the accompanying letter, which said the bank has learned that some Bank of America check cards have been compromised, and mine may be among them. To be safe, they issued new debit cards. My current one will automatically close in 30 days, and this new one comes with the same PIN but new card numbers. The letter said I will need to contact all the merchants where I have an automatic payment set up and change my billing information.

My colleague Julie Sherrier recently wrote about her frustration with many major businesses that recently experienced data breaches but didn’t notify the customers that their accounts were at risk. While it is annoying to have to switch to a new card and update automatic transactions when I’m not even positive my account was affected, I am so thankful my bank took safety precautions. If my account had been drained and my bank never informed me that my money may be in danger, I would have been furious.

Have you experienced any odd credit card behavior from your bank lately?

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