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APR: ABSOLUTE POVERTY RESULTS

When I needed to establish credit after law school, I was advised to apply for credit cards from Sears and Gulf as a way to start the process.  The plan worked, a year later I had an Amex, and now I can have any credit card I want (judging from the offers I get in the mail, at least).

I’ve kept the Sears card, though I could not tell you with any certainty how many years it has been since I’ve been inside one of their stores.  I’m sharing this because I opened a piece of mail from Sears that just put a capper on my animosity towards the banks and financial firms which are taking taxpayer money and either hoarding it or partying with it (or both).

The letter thanked me for shopping at Sears (and apparently Kmart), then continued:  The current economic environment has been difficult for business as well as many of our customers. This challenging business climate has led Citibank (South Dakota), NA, the issuer of the Sears card, to notify us that they are making changes to the terms of many Citibank credit card offerings, including the Sears product…

The accompanying insert showed that if I had bought anything on my card prior to February 3, 2009 I would have been charged interest calculated at 13.99% APR.  But now Citibank, receiver of billions of TARP’s bounty and terminator of tens of thousands of jobs, has raised the APR to 17.99% (unless a payment is late, when it escalates to 29.99%).  Also, hundreds or thousands of words into the document, I read that the the grace period was slashed to 20 days (down from 27).  Thus, if I paid my newly increased 17.99% bill at the time of the month it was previously due, I would be a week late, incurring both an additional 12% APR upsurge and a $39 late fee!

I am experiencing an escalation of my blood pressure as I type this.

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