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Got A Macy's Card?


I don't anymore -- as of five minutes ago. Read this post on Consumerist:

Recently, a Consumerist tipster sent in an internal memo from Macy's explaining that the store was "flipping" 3.5 million inactive store accounts into Citibank Mastercards. The memo reads:

"Approximately 3.5 million inactive (24-48 months) Macy's accounts have been selected to "flip" to the Citibank Mastercard. That means the customer will be sent a Citibank Mastercard to replace their inactive Macy's card. "

The "flip," as they call it, was "opt-out"—which means that if you missed a recent letter from Macy's explaining that they were going to open a credit card for you, you can expect a Citibank Mastercard in the mail.

We hadn't heard of this questionable-sounding practice before, so we showed the memo to Elizabeth Warren, consumer law expert and Harvard professor. She hadn't heard of it either, but expressed concerns about what this action by Macy's might do to a customer's credit score.

And then there's the potential nightmare if it gets put in the wrong mailbox or goes to an old address. Here's the course of action I suggest, in a comment I left on Consumerist:

Oh, this is horrible. My inactive Macy's card may go to an old address. I woke up at 5am to work on my column for my deadline, but I just got up from the computer and tore up several drawers looking for my Macy's card. I'm calling the scumbags now. If anybody else needs the number:


These scumbags. I just closed my account (which I hadn't used since 2000, since I buy everything with an airlines reward Visa) and I'll never shop at Macy's again. And I told them that. Turns out I had changed the address to my correct address...but I had a moment of panic that I'd maybe forgotten. Phew!

Cancel your Macy's card and tell them why.

Posted by aalkon at August 20, 2007 8:25 AM


I'm still stunned they're blindly sending credit cards to people without an application and the due diligence necesssary to verify a good address. It's ID Theft waiting to happen.

Thank the gods I never held a Macy's account!

Posted by: denali at August 20, 2007 8:08 AM

Oh my word. I noticed a weird credit card account on credit report, and I wondered, boy, what is that account, with a 6k limit? I do not recognize that. Turns out, it was opened on my behalf when I opened a Bloomie's charge card. I am on the phone with Bloomingdales right now to close my account. Bastards. And I have moved since I opened that card. Thank goodness it doesn't appear anyone got their hands on the card.

Posted by: MissPinkKate at August 20, 2007 9:05 AM

Good for you, MissPinkKate. I hope a lot of people will do this -- cancel their cards, even if they aren't those who've been upped on Citibank, etc...just out of protest for how wrong this is. Companies will not be motivated to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, but because they'll be run out of business if they don't.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 9:13 AM

For that matter, blame greedy Citibank. Many years ago I got a "lifetime no annual fee" credit card from AT&T. Through a series of buyouts the credit card is now indirectly from Citibank.

I live overseas, and (used to) use the card for thing like buying my mother's birthday present. With international mail, by the time I get the credit card statement and send my payment, it's already late. By the time I get a statement detailing the interest and late-feed, and pay it - well, that too is overdue. It gets really exciting trying to catch up.

To make a long story short, I sent the money ahead of time: enough to cover the next several months purchases. They sent it back! Any credit outstanding is automatically refunded. They would really rather have those fees.

I would really love to see Mastercard and Visa nailed for monopolistic practices. Together, they have the market pretty much sewn up - Amex and the rest have a tiny share. And MC/Visa only pretend to compete with each other. They are generally owned, in the end, by the same banks - who have no interest in competing with themselves.

Posted by: bradley13 at August 20, 2007 9:23 AM

Bradley, can't you do your banking online? You can see your balance and transfer money over from your bank account -- probably on the precise day you want.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 9:38 AM

Sorry, I meant pay your credit cards online.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 9:39 AM

I love the sense of mob justice that blogs like Consumerist bring to issues like this. Had I not seen their post (and subsequently this one), I would have dealt with the weird credit card account- but I might not have ever known that this was a practice they were doing to who knows how many account holders (thousands? tens of thousands?). So shady. When I called, closing both accounts was easy- so easy, it's almost as though hundreds of people have been calling all day, closing their accounts in protest :-D

Posted by: MissPinkKate at August 20, 2007 9:55 AM

I don't think these finance companies are too worried about running out of customers. The people who watch their credit reports and put a quick stop to anything out of the ordinary are a tiny minority. Most people see a mysterious new credit line of several thousand dollars as Christmas come early and go shopping.

Posted by: martin at August 20, 2007 11:19 AM

This kind of thing seems to be going aroound. It's not new. SEARS converted my SEARS card to a Mastercard about a year ago. I shredded it the day it arrived in the mail.

Posted by: azkober at August 20, 2007 1:23 PM

Wow- just double checked my credit report, and I closed my Macy's account a couple of years ago. I'm kind of disapointed I can't call and cancel it for this. Honestly, though, Macy's won't lose much over this- some folks will cancel their cards, but they're inactive cards anyway. No loss to Macy's, but loooottttsss of publicity, and it's all good.

Seriously- does this piss you off? Stop using credit. Keep one card and pay the balance every month. Make sure you get some kind of reward for using it. Or better yet, use cash, you won't spend as much. If you don't like carrying cash, use debits. And hello?...Keep track of your own due date.

Posted by: Allison at August 20, 2007 1:31 PM

Because I get airline miles for every dollar I spend, I pay for everything humanly possible with a credit card -- even phone and cell phone bills -- but also I do this amazing thing: I recognize that, at the end of the month, a bill will come, which I need to pay in full. (The way I see it, except in cases of dire emergency, paying interest is for chumps.)

Essentially, while it is a credit card I'm using, I consider it a debit card, and act accordingly.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 2:13 PM

Actually, you may not want to use a debit card - there isn't much consumer protection with them, and if you have a fraud problem, it's quite difficult to get your money back:

Posted by: DataMinion at August 21, 2007 6:15 PM

Never had a Macy's card, but this is the kind of thing that pisses me off big time. I would cancel in a split second if I had one of these cards.

On a related note something to watch out for is the Capital One cards. They refuse to report your credit limit. This messes up your credit report. Your balance is used by the credit reporting agency in leiu of the card limit. If you have any balance at all, this causes the appearance that your card is maxed out.

Posted by: jaylyn at August 21, 2007 7:11 PM

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