Saturday, January 26, 2008

I May Have Ruined My Husband's Credit

I made a mistake. This seems to be a theme recently. Back in November, we transferred one of our credit cards to a 0% offer. The old credit card, my husband's Amex, was paid off! Rejoice! Champagne flowed from the heavens. I then deleted it completely from my memory.

Which was a very bad idea.

Two or three times a week, I open up Quicken (aff.), download my transactions from my checking account and pay my bills. I update my credit card balance in Quicken once a week or so, as I'm not using the cards for anything. Or so I thought. Turns out, I forgot about one teensy little detail. The automatic payment for tolls I had set up long ago in the days of yore on the Amex. Back in the days when all payments for all things were set up on credit cards. They slowly migrated over to the bank account, but our toll payments were like a weakly, sick herd member. Irregular. Unreliable. Fell right on through the cracks.

After paying off the Amex in November, I didn't open it, look at it, think of it until last week. We were signed up for paperless statements, so nothing comes in the mail. When I did log in to the account, much to my dismay, there was a balance of $171.97. Consisting of some residual interest (that I forgot about), two toll charges (that I forgot about) and two late fees. The computer demanded $74.04 past due! Pay now! I paid the past due amount last week and the remainder today. And felt like a horrible person pretty much ever since I found my error.

The Amex is the only card that is entirely in my husband's name. I have one in my name only as well, to keep some aspects of our credit histories and scores separate. If this were my credit card, I wouldn't feel quite so bad. At least then my mistake would affect my credit. I have never had a bill this far past due (over 30 days), so I have no idea what this is going to do to his credit. Amex already shot up the interest rate from a so-so 16.99% to an astronomical 29.24%. I will be checking our credit reports in the beginning of February, but I have no baseline to compare to. We'll see if the late and overdue balance is included in his credit history.

The take-home lesson here is: don't forget to check your cards that have been paid off. My new version of Quicken automatically downloads all our account at once, which will prevent this from happening again. That and the fact that I already switched the toll payments to our bank account.


debtfretter said...

Oh, stuff like this sometimes gets me too. Learn from it and move on, you can get past it.

Lazy Man and Money said...

My take-away here would be to not sign up for paperless statements. This is the exact reason why I love to have a piece of paper come to my attention and bypass all the electronic noise of my e-mail.

Sharon said...

Thank you for this eye opener. I have been meaning to change my automatic charge on a citi cc for netflix. I've made the switch to my debit card this morning!

As far as your husband's credit, I wouldn't worry too much. Besides the bad luck of having to pay finance charges, I'm sure his score didn't change a whole lot, especially since you paid off the balance. I agree with lazy man and money, continue the paper statements. Computers can crash, information can get lost.

Canadian Saver said...

Is there anyway you could call American Express and ask if it's been reported on your credit report? It would show up as... 30 or 60 days late? If you explain what happened, they may be willing to take that off your DH's report, you never know.

JvW said...

df - at least I keep making different mistakes!

Lazy Man - I have already switched it back to paper statements. Sorry, the environment!

Sharon - I don't think it will affect his credit too much, it's more the fact that I made the mistake and it will affect him that is bothering me. Dang these auto charges!

cs - He would have to make the call as I'm not on this card at all. I'm going to encourage him to, hopefully he will be able to get Amex to take it off. said...

Awesome post. It's blogs like yours that keep me coming back. Real life problems with real life solutions. Keep up the good work...

JvW said...

manageurmoney - Thank you! Now only to stop having problems (hahahaha).

Giga said...

Oh my gosh! I just read this post and it occurred to me to check my husband's recently paid-off card. The due date was today, but I was able to catch a rogue auto-charge like yours in time. I know it was unfortunate, but thank you for posting your experience!

JvW said...

Giga - it makes me feel much better knowing that my mistake helped you, too! It seems like an easy thing to forget.

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