For months, the finance industry has been issuing dire warnings that they'd have to deny people credit once reform regulations kicked in. Now that the CARD Act is here, at least some of those predictions seem to be coming true. According to The Consumerist, Chase canceled 15% of its card customers. In a statement to shareholders, the bank said it was cutting off credit to those it deemed "too risky." (We have to admit there's something to be said for a bank exercising some caution in its lending standards.)
So what do you do if you were among the 15% who got a letter from Chase telling you that you were being cut off? First of all, write to us in the comments section and tell us about your experience! But don't be overly concerned. Having a card canceled might not have as much impact on your credit score as you think. As we've explained to you before, closing a credit card -- whether it's you or the bank that does the closing - can impact what's called your utilization ratio, or how much of your available credit you use each month. Credit utilization is part of your credit score, but it's not the whole picture.
If you only have one credit card and that one's canceled, your ratio would obviously be affected, but most of us have more than one card. Your ratio could also be impacted if you have one card with a much higher credit limit than the rest and that one is canceled. If the card canceled has a low credit limit, though, you won't really have much to worry about.
And even if you have a big-limit card canceled, you don't necessarily need to panic and run out to get another card. (If you were looking for an excuse, sorry!) Your first line of defense should be your other accounts. Call up one or more of the other issuers, and ask for an increase in your credit limit to make up for the amount you lost when the card was canceled.
If you're unable to do this, don't blindly sign up for the first card offer you get. Opening too many accounts in a short period of time can ding your FICO score, so if you sign up for a card with crummy terms and get a case of buyer's (or borrower's, in this case) remorse, opening a second account right after the fact could possibly lower your score more than the initial account-closing. Do your homework by going to a site like CardRatings.com that lets you shop for a card by interest rate, reward terms and other criteria.
Readers, have you been cut off by Chase? How long did you have the card in question? How much did you use it? If you followed up with customer service, what kind of response did you get ?
Chase to risky customers: It's not you, it's me