I've recently joined the group of folks who have had their credit negatively impacted by a credit card company that indiscriminately reduces credit lines. Geico Platinum Mastercard notified me that they were reducing my credit card line of credit significantly, down to the balance that I had carried on the account. How can this effect ones credit negatively?
A large part of ones credit score is determined by the amount of credit available. Earlier this month, I had a $10,000 limit on this card. If I carried a $1,000 balance, then I had 90% of my credit line available. When the credit limit is reduced, in this case to $1000, the available credit is now $0, making it appear as though I've 'maxed out' my credit line.
When the credit bureaus receive my balance information showing that I now have a $1000 balance on a $1000 credit line, my credit score will be recalculated and will likely drop significantly, for no fault of my own.
How can the credit card companies do this? I have made all of my payments on time, never late, never missed. Managed my account with stellar diligence. Still, I run the risk, again by no fault of my own, that my credit score will suffer. If my score drops, I run the risk of paying higher interest rates for future credit needs. You would think that there would be a law against this!
Read you account agreements carefully. There is almost always a clause that gives the card company the right to reduce or cancel the credit line at their discretion, regardless of your payment history.
What's the solution? I called Geico Platimum Mastercard and asked that they reconsider. They acknowledged that I had always paid my account better than agreed, but that there wasn't anything that they could (or would) do. Because it was a corporate business decision, they could not increase the line so that I would have only 50% utilization, nor would they reduce the APR on the account. My options were very limited.
I could; (1) decide not to pay them, or (2) pay off the balance in full. Fortunately, I was in the financial position that I could chose option 2. In addition, I will be looking for a new insurance company to handle my motor vehicle insurance needs. Note: I did not close the account because I want to keep my available credit lines open in order to preserve my credit rating.
Have you had this happen to you? What did you do?