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Credit Finances & Money

Fighting a $15 Late Fee from Citibank

Just a quick note that I got home tonight (Sunday night) from a long 3-day trip across half of Pennsylvania to see an email from Citibank that I’m past due on a payment. I nearly crapped my pants because I have a spotless credit history with absolutely no late fees.

In March, I got replacement credit cards for our Citibank account, but just put them in the pile because I thought they were just new expiration dates. I use a Chase card right now as my primary card, so I didn’t have need of activating the card just yet.

I got a call a couple weeks later from Citibank asking if I got the cards. Apparently, a merchant’s system had been breached so they automatically canceled all cards that may have been stolen and issued new numbers, which included my card. I activated my account then and logged into the account to make sure I didn’t have a balance owed.

I had just paid off over $11,000 from a balance transfer I made to earn interest in a savings account. This card is also the card I attached to E-ZPass (the RFID tag used for toll roads), and I would get auto-billed $25 each time the balance got low. Well, I got billed twice in February from E-ZPass for some reason, and in the mix of the billing and the new cards, I saw the $0.00 balance in the old account as the current balance.

I switched the auto-bill from Citibank to Chase and figured I was done with that card. I didn’t get any statements stating otherwise, until the email today.

The Late Payment

So after seeing the email, I logged into the account, still saw a zero balance, but saw a link to register my new account number. DUH! They issued me a new card, and I just assumed the online account would transfer over. Well silly me! (sarcastic). Apparently the credit card company can issue you a new number anytime, thus screwing up your life.

I’m a proponent of responsible credit card use, and this one incident still won’t deter me from using my credit cards for their relative safety, expense tracking and rewards. But this was a learning experience for me, or at least a reminder, that it’s totally up to me to be diligent about my credit. I previously just relied on reviewing my credit history a few times per year, but I also need to be aware that I’m responsible for ensuring my online accounts are updated and that I know when due dates change.

So I called Citibank in a huff, and explained the confusion over receiving a new card, the online account showing a zero balance, and me not knowing I had to update the registered number online to see the current balance. The lady understood and quickly refunded me the $15 late fee. Additionally, the account was less than 30 days overdue, so it would not affect my credit history or score.

I got it all resolved, but take this as a lesson learned for yourself that you need to always read whatever the credit card company sends you very closely, as well as understand how it impacts any automatic charges or billing you have set up. If your account number changes, you need to update your online account and notify any merchants with whom you have regular charges or subscriptions.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I just took care of our replacement Citi cards, and what a pain it was! Two bills were paid from it, EZPass and the Baltimore Sun, and the Sun’s website does not let you update online very easily. Plus, when I went to pay my most recent Citi bill online from my bank account, I noticed that I needed to change it billing information to the new CC account number there too! Who knows what would have happened if I forgot that.
    It was definitely not worth all the trouble, especially when I keep an eye on my credit report anyway.

  • Our household had a similar experience. They replaced our CitiBank cards (Heartland data breach is to blame for this round of card replacements) and did so right before the due date. We did not receive the cards until after the due date so we could not make an “on-time” payment online because the account had already been deactivated to accept electronic payments and I could not register the new card until I received and activated it.. I called and they took an eCheck over the phone for free. The process was a pain and of course I had to update all my automatic billing accounts that are charged to that credit card. ugh…

  • Fortunately, I have not experienced this situation with any of my credit cards; however, I did have a problem with my cable company similar to this. I moved from one apartment to another and just transferred the service over. Silly me, I thought it was a simple transfer. Turns out that the account number at one apartment is closed out and a new account at your new apartment is opened. Personally, I think this is all a bunch of crap just so they can charge you an installation fee, but whatever. At any rate, I didn’t know this so my online account showed a balance of $0.00. After a month or so, I thought this was rather strange so I call the cable company up. They tell me that they were about to send a disconnect notice and I’d be responsible for the reconnect fee. I pay the balance over the phone and then have the representative help me set up the online access for my new account seeing as there was no indication anywhere that I had to do that. I told the lady that their representatives should be instructed to inform customers calling to switch service that this is a step they need to take, but she brushed me off. That’s Time Warner for you!

    Anyway, glad you were able to get that $15 fee taken care of! Great post, serves as a wonderful reminder on personal responsibility to our own credit! Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m surprised (a) the late fee is only $15 – I thought Citi and everyone else had it around $39 these days, and (b) Citi didn’t stick to their guns on the charge, since service fees seem to be their game plan for repaying the bailout loan. Phew!

  • @MoneyMateKate, perhaps they have a lower fee structure for those with spotless histories? And there was no fight whatsoever about knocking off the charge. I’m not sure I even asked to have it removed. I just told them there was a big mixup that caused the charge and I didn’t know I had a balance. She just said “I’ll reverse the charge”.

  • That’s one good thing I can say about Citibank, in my experience, they are pretty good about waiving fees. I’ve been a customer for over 12 years. I’ve slipped up and missed a payment twice in the past and both times, they waived the fee once I called them.

  • My online payment didn’t go thru on my Citi bank Master Card account as sheduled and I got charged $39. Emailed them and they were unable to refund me the money. Never been late and always pay my balance off. Just closed the account. Still have Visa card with them and was planning to use it for family vacation. Will reconsider. Citi bank customer since 2002.

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