Thursday, December 13, 2007

Banking annoyance

I think I have figured out part of the problem with our credit system.

Yesterday, I went to pay my tuition for the last 16 credit hours of classes I need to finish before getting my Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. Total: $3800 ($250 per credit hour, minus 5% for paying it all at once.) I had saved up $4000, so this wasn't a problem.

(Though I really wanted a laptop. But school is more important.)

I put in my bank credit card detail, the one that's tied right to my checking account. I don't use regular credit cards any more - if I don't have the money, I just deal without it.

Today, I get an email telling me that the bank couldn't authorize the payment. I call them up. "What up? I got $4K in the bank, and you won't authorize it?"

"You're only allowed $3k a day off of your bank card. Make the school split the payments."

The problem: they don't authorize based on what's actually in my bank account. Last week, someone tried to buy a $600 laptop off of my wife's credit card. Luckily, because we're anal, we check our bank account every damn day, so we stopped that in a hurry. But still - in the account we had $100 in checking. The bank should have said "Hey, there's no money in this account.

Instead, they approved it, then proceeded to charge us overdraft transfer fees and the like. What they *should* have done is deny the charge because there was no money in the bank.

Then, in my situation, there was clearly money in the bank, but they don't base the bank card charge approvals off of the money that you actually have. Does this make any sense to anyone?

I finally wound up using my corporate AMEX card, which means I'll put the $3800 into my high interest savings account for a few weeks, then transfer it out to pay the AMEX bill when it comes due on January 02. If nothing else, maybe I'll earn $10 in interest.

Still, the whole thing just bugs me. Bank cards are there to use like a check book. You swipe the card, the bank should go "You have X money in the account", and use that money. Period. That's it. Obviously, though, they don't.

And now we wonder one of the reasons why banks are starting to have issues because of the credit industry.

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