Friday, December 04, 2009

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Sometimes ex-pat living is more complicated than need be, but this is in part due to uncooperative credit card companies who refuse to believe that Americans live abroad. I have a Mastercard that I have had for years now with an A++ credit rating. Until recently I did not use it much because it did not accumulate airline miles per se. It does accrue points for gifts and discounts on airline tickets, though.

What has prompted me to use it more is that they do not charge the seemingly ubiquitous "Currency conversion fee" that my Amex, Diners Club, and Citibank Visa does. Because I pay all credit cards in full each month, this is a great savings over those trumped up charges from other financial institutions.

This particular credit card was about to expire and they sent me an offer for custom logo on the new cards. Thinking it would be fun to have our kitchen mural on the card, I submitted the design, which was approved and the card sent out. It was sent to the address I use in New Mexico. My sister/friend at that address said it never arrived three weeks after it was due to be there. I called the company, which entailed reporting it lost or stolen. My current card number was discontinued. They were to reissue new cards with new numbers. After giving them all of my personal information to verify my identity, they sent me an e-mail stating the new card/number was being processed. 

A week later, my sister/friend called to tell me the card company called her to speak with me, but would not give her any information since she was not on the account. I called the company again and verified yet again that I did not get the new card the first go around and yes, I did request a new card a second time. 

Ten days later, the card arrived in New Mexico. The company refuses to send it to me here in Hungary even if I promise to allow them to charge me with the FedEx fees to do so. They 'cannot' send a card outside of the US. My sister/friend sent me the card FedEx and I picked it up today from the university. Although the cards did not have that sticker across the front that says you have to call in to validate them, I did so anyway just to be safe.

When I called the 24/7 number, I was told that my card was being handled by a "special agent" who would not be in until 9am EST. Of course, I wanted to check this off of my ever expanding To Do list, but there it sits since I called two hours too early. I keep telling myself it is better to be safe than sorry. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Ben Franklin didn't even have these problems. How perceptive he was.

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