Credit card companies are evil. They pitch to you that they actually care about you, that they want to help you out, that they want to treat you like you’re someone important.
Credit card companies only care about one thing. How much they can squeeze from you in fees and overages and everything else.
Over the years, I’ve worked with one credit card company – Bank of America. It’s got a balance on it – not a big balance, but it’s much smaller than it once was.
But I’ve learned a few things in dealing with Bank of America. They are tricky.
And in the past, when I’ve blogged about my relationship with Bank of America, I’ve used pseudonyms like “Rainy Day Credit Card Company” and whatnot. But so long as I blogged for a previous blog portal, I couldn’t use Bank of America’ real name. So I had to give them an alternate name.
So in dealing with Bank of America, I worked with due dates that weren’t actual due dates – like when the billing cycle starts on the first of the month, they won’t accept payment for that upcoming billing cycle until the 4th of the month. Ugh.
Then, in December 2020, during the freakin’ COVID-19 pandemic, I discovered the difference between “fast” ATM deposit centers (where payments made on that day are credited for that day) and “slow” ATM deposit centers (where payments are credited the next business day). The ATM at the Bank of America next to Latham Circle is a “slow” ATM. So sayeth this blog post.
Okay. On September 4th, I had a good run at Rivers Casino. I’m driving home with $300 in my pocket. And that money’s feeling very warm. Like it wants to burn a hole in my pocket.
Nope. Chuck’s gotta be good. I pulled up to the ATM at the Bank of America in Latham. And on Saturday, September 4th, at around 10:00 p.m., I put the entire $300 in the account. Although my credit card’s billing cycle starts on the 1st of the month, they won’t accept payment for the upcoming card until the 5th.
Okay. Well, Saturday is the 4th. No biggie. There’s no bank business on the 5th. Labor Day is a federal holiday, that’s the 6th. So on the 7th, the first business day after my deposit, that money should automatically appear in my account, easy peasy and I’m ahead for the month.
September 7th. I look online at my statement. Says that I owe a minimum payment of $42. The $300 from the ATM is pending.
That’s Bank of America for you. Fast on collecting money, slow on crediting it to your account.
September 8th. Hmm. Still says I owe $42. The $300 is still pending. Well, this seems rather odd. Who’s delivering the money from the ATM to the corporate offices, a sled powered by snails?
September 9th. The $300 is credited – credited on the 7th as received – but the minimum payment request is still $42. Wait. Something’s wrong here.
Bank of America’s got some ‘splaining to do, and I’m a pissed-off Ricky Ricardo.
And it’s at this point that I run into Bank of America’s next little gimmick. Calling Bank of America for anything can land you in a maze of transferred calls and robo-voices. They don’t want you to actually speak to them. They want you to go online and direct your question to somebody who won’t directly answer your question. And if you try to tell the operator you want to speak to “customer service,” they’ll give you five different diversions as to “In order to route your call better, you must choose one of the following options.”
Finally, after 15 minutes of dodging the phone jail and waiting on hold, I speak to Patricia. And I ask Patricia why, if my account snows that the $300 went in on the 7th, and my minimum payment is listed on the 5th, why didn’t my $300 get credited to that minimum payment?
She first told me I was wrong, that my payment was late. That by paying on the 4th, over the holiday weekend, it couldn’t be credited to my upcoming bill.
I told her that I was very clear about what had happened here, and that I knew that over the holiday weekend, my money would be credited on the next business day. For the upcoming October payment.
Again, more feints and lunges from Patricia. Eventually, she told me, “Well, this is just a slowdown on your account. Your payment should be applied to the $42, and it should cycle through tomorrow. Have a great day.”
September 10th. I look online. Bank of America still says I owe a $42 minimum payment.
Okay. Time for another call. This time it took 25 minutes (and one disconnection) to get to a human. I reached Victoria. I explained the situation.
And from Victoria, I received this little tidbit.
“Well, Mr. Miller, you deposited your funds in the ATM on the 4th. And although it shows on your statement that it was credited on the 7th, we backdated it to the 4th.”
“That’s a Saturday. So what you’re telling me is that – let me get this straight – instead of it being credited on the next business day toward that minimum payment, you instead sent it back to the original weekend deposit date, while still showing on my online banking statement that it was credited on the 7th?”
What in the holy hell…
After more discussions with Victoria, she told me that I would still need to make that $42 payment before October 1st, even though the amount was properly credited before. Yep. I see one thing, but BofA is saying that what I see isn’t what I see. See?
Is anybody out there getting that weird banking bullshit vibe? You know, like the kind where Wells Fargo opened up millions of secret bank accounts and jammed up unsuspecting customers and ruined their credit scores, and then acted like it was just a simple mistake that everybody would forget in due time?
Yeah, those banking bullshit vibes.
See, here’s the thing. I’ve dealt with credit card and store card mumbo-jumbo in the past. And after all the bullshit I went through with Sears a decade ago… yeah. They pissed me off so much, I blogged about them. Way back in 2010. And if I’m still holding bad feelings about Sears ELEVEN YEARS AFTER THIS BLOG POST WAS WRITTEN, you know I keep those mental receipts.
Okay. If this is the case, then I need to put together a controlled experiment.
September 11. It’s a Saturday. At around 6:00 p.m., I went back over to the exact same Bank of America ATM branch in Latham. Deposited $50 in the account.
So by the argument that they previously postulated, this should be credited to my account on the 11th, seeing as last week’s weekend payment was credited to Saturday.
Let’s test this hypothesis.
On Monday, September 13, I checked my statement online. $50 is pending. Okay …
On Tuesday, September 14, it showed that the $50 was credited into the account on the 13th, and the minimum payment required for October was now $0.
Oh … so a payment on one Saturday is credited earlier, but the next week it’s credited later?
Another phone call. Another visit through phone jail. And eventually I speak with a supervisor named Dave, who explains to me that if the first day of my billing cycle was the 5th, even if the 5th was on a Sunday, if I physically put the money in the ATM on the 4th, it would be credited toward the 4th.
“But I’m looking at my statement right now,” I said, “and it’s credited to the 7th.”
“Right, but we accepted it on the 4th.”
“That’s not what I see here.”
Round and around we go.
So here’s what I’m seeing out of this. And correct me if I’m wrong. But I don’t think I am wrong.
What Bank of America has really done here … is they’ve adjusted the rules to benefit them. If you pay over the weekend AND your bill is due, then they’ll delay receiving your payment until the first business day, whether or not that’s in your next billing cycle. If you want to get ahead of the game and pay over the weekend, then they’ll credit your payment to your previous billing cycle, and leave you thinking you paid your minimum, when in fact you haven’t, and if you don’t check your statement, you’re in danger of being late with your payment and causing your interest rate to zoom to 29.99% and your credit score to fall lower than an armadillo’s nuts.
And the crazy thing is … now I have to make another payment, lest I suffer any credit card arrears. And if I deposit that $42 in that very same ATM on Saturday, how much you wanna bet that they won’t even credit it until the Monday after the weekend? Yeah, because you know that’s an extra few days they can garner interest on it. I’m telling you.
Seriously, I get the feeling that when Bank of America talks about “next business day,” they’re talking about the next time they’re going to GIVE YOU THE BUSINESS. Ugh.
Honestly, I’m just waiting for the net time I make a deposit, when they tell me they won’t accept my payment unless I wear a green shirt, stand on one leg, rub my tummy with one hand and sing “All About That Bass” at the top of my lungs.
Hmm. Better get in practice, Miller.
Okay. Stand on one leg. Rub my tummy. Put on the green shirt. “Because you know I’m all about that bass, about that bass, no treble…”