I know I shouldn’t admit to this, but yeah, I’m human too. I live in one of those travel ‘hacking’ households where one half of the couple is a bit zany, and the other one, my lovely wife, abides the hobby after a taste of free travel, but doesn’t actively participate in card churning or manufactured spend. Of course I highly recommend that nobody who reads this churns credit cards, because it is much better to keep the same one year after year and pay an annual fee…
My system for tracking our cards was once Mint.com, but I since blew that program up, it can’t keep up with my antics and is still reporting account balances that were wiped off 3 years ago. Then I moved onto Excel, but I stopped tracking that too, and now I use the power of my brain. Which it seems has been a bit stretched this past year. Where asthejoeflies ponders if he should quit this game, I am not as worried about my slip up in not catching the fraudulent charges, but I am annoyed that I paid the annual fee on my CSP!
The charges appeared on the wife’s Chase account. We have a deal where I will open up the card, and she will fly in a fancy plane. It was my job to track the accounts, and I failed. The good news is that all the charges were reversed without question. The bad news is that there was no fraud alert from Chase. I mean, the charges originated in Mexico and Brazil, and you’d think that could be a flag! I’m not the type to pass the buck though, it was purely my fault, as was missing the annual fee deadline. I recommend that you check into your accounts on a regular basis to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you too.
Is auto-pay part of the problem?
It is more likely to happen if you have a system like mine: Signup for card, configure online access, set autopay in full, meet spend in day, shelve card. I make an early payment if the utilization ratio is high. This might actually be one of the few times that adding auto-pay is a bad move, because if there was a charge overdue you’d likely receive snail mail or an account alert for payment due. Sure, that would come with some sort of penalty, and maybe even a credit score ding, but it would also serve as an alert system, and the credit ding, if any would be wiped from your account by the bank, as would the charge, and the penalty. Just a thought..
Anyway, it seems that when things get hectic, mistakes happen. Luckily charges are reversed, just make sure you guide them through it, my Chase Fraud rep was a bit dim, and wouldn’t look further back to the origin of the fraud without strict instruction. But the real damage, I got suckered into a paying an annual fee again, and that feels terrible!
Note, if you miss your fee within a certain window, which differs per bank, you can get it refunded after the fact, I think it is 60 days with Citi/Chase. And Amex will often prorate annual fees on cards like the Platinum et al so you could cancel mid year and get a refund, this is handy for times where you think that you missed the deadline, but really you haven’t. In my case, I missed the real deadline, and am the proud holder of newly minted CSP that does no good for me whatsoever!