An Open Letter To Chase

Dear Chase,

For a week last month, you suspended access to Mint.com for Chase customers. We could not access our Chase accounts through this free and widely used financial aggregation service. It was ridiculously annoying!

When I wrote you about it, I received a form letter in response describing the suspension for “security reasons”, which I consider highly suspect. The thing is, just a couple of weeks earlier you had sent me a marketing email touting your new Chase Mobile App. It’s interesting that your security priorities for account holders seem to mesh so well with your own proprietary (and no doubt profitable) app development. How convenient for your bottom line!

Since, dear Chase, I’m not sure you understand where you stand in my financial life, let me clear some things up for you. I’ve been growing increasingly unhappy with you for some time now.

  • My Chase cash back rewards Visa was the first credit card I picked out for myself, at 22-years-old over ten years ago. At the time it was great, I earned 5% on gas and groceries, which was where most of my discretionary spending was those days.
  • Then you decreased the benefits on my cash-back card, rebranding it “Freedom”. Yeah, it gave you the “freedom” to rotate my cash back categories so that I earned far less cash back overall, not so much freedom for me.
  • Your redemption portal could use some work – why would I buy a full-priced gift card from you when I can get the cash back instead and then earn more points buying a gift card from another merchant? Seriously. Why!?!  (Not to mention the other options for purchasing discounted gift cards…)
  • And your shopping portal is the pits. I get way more cash back using my Discover most of the time if I’m making a big purchase online from the exact same stores. Which begs the question – Are you unable to negotiate the same favorable rates they do, or are you skimming more of the profits off the top for yourself rather than returning them to your customers?
  • Really, the only thing keeping me using you for the past couple of years is your longevity in my life. You’re the credit card we’ve got some of our auto-pays (like our gym membership) on, and the credit card number that I’ve got memorized and find myself using if I’m too lazy to get up and find my wallet to make a purchase online.

But the inertia that has kept you as a semi-active part of our financial lives, isn’t going to be enough if you keep messing with my ability to view my transaction and balance information in a way that I prefer. It’ll take me less than an hour to change our auto-payments, and I’m quite good at memorizing numbers. A new sixteen digit number will be no problem. You’re disposable in my financial life.

No, I won’t close my account. I’ll just leave it in limbo – with a $0 balance. As I understand it, that’s actually more beneficial to my credit score and causes more expenses to you.  We have other cards that haven’t seen a charge in years. Would you like to join them? It sounds like probably not since Mint was able to convince you after a week (or maybe you had enough angry customers writing you) to let their service access your databases once again.

Here’s where I stand on security. As a victim of identity theft, I care deeply about my security. I use a password database and ridiculously complex passcodes and false security answers that cannot be socially engineered. Contrary to your assertion that Mint-using customers are putting their finances at risk, I firmly believe that my finances are safer for using a financial aggregation site like Mint. With all of my account information in one place, I view it far more often than I would if I had to use separate portals for each of our 20+ accounts. Viewing it MORE often, means that I will be able to spot and react to potential fraud far more quickly than if I didn’t use such an aggregator.

If you were REALLY worried about my security (and not just trying to force customers into your own profit center as I suspect), you’d create a transaction and balance read-only username and password for each account (or just for those that request it!) that would let your customers easily access information through these types of aggregation services without incurring any of the potential liability associated with a one-size-fits-all login. It’s not a significant technological challenge – heck, here’s a hint – the field is called Identity and Access Management – if you don’t have specialists on your staff in this area, hire them yesterday.

So, Chase – I’m sorry to be so blunt with you, but your lack of apology after restoring access to mint indicated that you weren’t really understanding your place in my financial world (and likely in the financial world of many of your other customers). You’re disposable. There are other financial providers with better rewards. Others with better customer service. And I’d be happy to use them instead if you make transactions through Chase difficult for me to keep track of.

Best,

Mrs PoP (a Chase customer for over ten years)

25 comments to An Open Letter To Chase

  • I was an exceedingly happy customer with Washington Mutual to the extent that I continued to bank with them even when moving across the country. They’re the bank where I put my first paycheck, made my first CD, etc. They were amazing and had truly free checking accounts as long as you opened savings too, so my 15 year old self didn’t have to meet weird minimums to save money. Then, they were bought out by Chase. I had a 5 year CD that had renewed recently through WaMu, so I stayed on to see what would happen.

    First, Chase reduced the amazing interest rates (tho fair enough — they were way above market because WaMu was trying to get more cash to stay solvent). The interest kept dribbling down. Then, they sent me a letter that they would be charging for the accounts unless I jumped through all sorts of hoops. Normal enough, I suppose, but such a slap considering they’d promised keeping WaMu policies when they first took over. By this time, I’d found other banks to use. When I went home for Christmas, I went to close all my accounts (both at Chase and at BECU, the Boeing Employees Credit Union). BECU closed my account in a few minutes, happily. I had only had an account due to a car loan, but it was still money sitting in there with them. Chase gave me a good 15 minute run-around about all the services they could provide me despite me living a good hour from the nearest physical branch.

    Suffice to say that I am not a fan at all. So thanks for adding another reason to my list of why I avoid them.

    • That sounds terrible. Luckily we were never enticed by the countless “get $200 for opening a checking account” offers that Chase has mailed to our house in the few years since they opened a branch nearby, so we’ve never had to deal with them in person. Though I can attest when I closed a Chase Sapphire that we had used a churn card to get the bonus the rep tried very hard to get me to keep the card.

  • I love Discover. I did open a Chase Freedom card this year to get the $225 sign up bonus. I have not used the card since then. Discover customer service is awesome. Their portal is awesome. They also provide great cashback rewards. I upgraded our card to Discover It, and the first year is Double Cash Back!!! Any way I can think of to get Cashback I do. Especially since the amount will be doubled next summer!!!! So highly recommend the card.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..Shopping For InsuranceMy Profile

  • Tim

    Weird … chase still works for my Mint account.

    • It was out for about a week in mid-October. They fixed it before the month ended, and all interim transactions were downloaded with the fix. But if they hadn’t done it before month end I would have been LIVID since my monthly spending reports would have taken FOREVER to do as a result.

  • Lucas

    Great letter! :-) My primary card is the amazon rewards visa card serviced by Chase so I was affected by the Mint outage as well (yes I am slowly giving up control on MS money and figuring out what I need out of Mint :-)). Good to know they got the message from enough people. I would also consider canceling or just not using the card if they cut the cord permanently as it would make budgeting and tracking a whole lot more difficult.

  • Debbie M

    Warning: Credit card companies can choose to cancel your card if you go too long without using. I’m not sure how long “too long” is, hopefully a whole year, but you might want to research that. Although my credit union doesn’t do that, I can’t help feeling sure that Chase would.

    I also got some nice Chase cards: the one you got and one with 3% off at Home Depot. They both turned into Freedom cards like yours. I opened a checking account with them because of some money-back offer, but kept it because it adds 0.1% + $0.10/purchase to the rewards points, but that all ends December. Although my local Chase branch is very nice, I’ll be closing that account in December. And then canceling my card (I don’t really have to care about my credit–I don’t rent, I pay for cars with cash, and I’m retired and not looking for work).

    • spolen

      Alternately, some credit card providers charge an annual fee if you leave it open and go the entire year without using it. I learned the the hard way when I called to close a USBank card (serviced through MC, I think), never got written confirmation of the closing, and a year later ended up with a non-use fee. (After a phone call, they waived and FINALLY cancelled my card). If you do decide to stop using Chase, check to make sure they don’t have a similar policy.

      • Good to know! I would not want to be hit with a fee! FWIW, in the past our Discover card has gone through periods where we haven’t used it much and they actually sent us bonus rewards to start using it again. So they’ve trained me that letting cards lie fallow can be beneficial, so I’ll check into it before canceling our monthly auto-pays if Chase decides to pull Mint access again. =)

    • If Chase pulls a stunt like this again, I’ll figure out the details on non-usage and cancelling then. I’m not terribly worried about our credit scores (they are both >800 as of last month and we’re not planning on getting financing for anything soon), but this is my oldest card (I had to close a joint card I had with my father during college – they wouldn’t let me just take him off of it), so I’d rather not close it if I don’t have to.

  • In situations like this, I have to also look at the perspective of the ‘other side’, that being Chase in this case. From their perspective, they see the number of accounts that their customers link over to Mint.com, and they have to look at that from a risk management perspective. If Mint.com somehow gets hacked, then no matter whatever liability statements they put out there and no matter how much they might get customers to accept the risk of what they’re doing, in the end, Chase will have fallout. They’ll be impacted in some way. They’ll have customers with losses that they’ll have to work with. They’ll have man hours of investigating the impact. They’ll have labor involved if they need to force password resets and suddenly get barraged with help desk calls. Or all sorts of things.

    So, I completely see your point, but just saying that at the same time, I kind of see theirs too. I guess it’s more whether the ends justify the means.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Do You Tell People When Their Prices Are Too High?My Profile

    • From a risk management perspective, they’re being horribly lax by having just one type of login, which I think is the bigger issue and implementation of a solution wouldn’t take all that many man hours for a qualified team. Not having the option for read-only logins is like granting every user of a computer administrative rights to that machine. It’s silly and not consistent with current security standards. So I don’t really think that’s a valid excuse. =/

  • Banks suck. You should join a credit union where the members are the owners. I haven’t had an account at a bank since KeyBank in 2005. The first time they gave me trouble, I closed it, and I’ve been happy with my credit union ever since.

    As for credit cards, since I take the sign-on bonus and run every time I get a new card, I like to think I’m a net loss for all the major card-issuing banks like Chase.
    Norm recently posted..Frugal Failure: I Paid $40 For A PencilMy Profile

    • The problem with credit unions sometimes though is that they don’t always have Mint support or their credit cards don’t have as good rewards or as good customer service.
      Leigh recently posted..Why Frugal Blogs Are Terrible For MeMy Profile

      • FWIW, our credit union (PSECU) has worked with Mint as long as I can remember and has amazing customer service. If I’m remembering correctly, they even had a real iPad app before Wells Fargo’s app was much more than a re-direct to their website, so they’ve been pretty great about keeping up with technology, despite being smaller than the big guys. They even give us Mr PoP’s FICO score every month (which they started years before Discover started making a big deal about doing just that!). I can’t speak to credit card rewards, though, since the visa card we have through them doesn’t have any rewards. Hence it’s one that has just sat there for years without a charge… but it’s nice to know we have access to that credit line quickly should something happen and we need it!

    • We do have an account at a credit union. (Ally, Wells Fargo, and PSECU are our “banks”, though PSECU is a credit union!) We’ve tried churning the way you do and it made me want to pull my hair out. I think it’s better left for when we have more free time. For now I just want a solid base of cards that let me get decent rewards on where we spend the bulk of our money and are widely accepted. Amex is our primary, but we need a secondary since some small businesses don’t take it. Chase visa had been until this fiasco.

  • We are hanging on with Chase for the same reasons. We like having a brick and mortar bank like, 2 days out of the year. The rest of the time, we use our old Perkstreet account (yep, still there!). :)
    Done by Forty recently posted..As I Accelerate Towards the EarthMy Profile

  • jestjack

    Please keep us posted on this. I for one am interested IF you and WHAT the reply will be. I recently have had problems with Discover with an “e-certificate” and it took a bunch of phone calls to come to a fair outcome. I have not used the Discover card as it doesn’t seem to have the deals and incentives that my other cards do. Chase on the other hand has been very good to work with when we have problems. BUT I have noticed that the “rewards” aren’t as generous and I too find the redemption process a bit puzzling now. Not so long ago I redeemed my rewards on Chase for a HP lap top…very good experience and the HP was a good “buy” and has performed well. Had an “issue” and had to take it for repair to Best Buy and it was covered under warranty… Thanks for sharing…

  • Well said!
    And no, I’m not a Chase customer
    Stockbeard recently posted..Why you shouldn’t take investment advice from your colleaguesMy Profile

  • I can’t even imagine doing business with Chase again. When Costco announced AMEX was dumping the Costco American Express card and so it would be replaced with a Chase card, I decided Costco would have to take my debit card or else not do business with me anymore.

    I have a Chase card, which like you I leave with a $0 balance after Chase gave me the form-letter shaft over some pointless matter. If and when they cancel it, tant pis!

    Meanwhile, I called American Express and arranged for new AMEX business & personal cards to kick in when Costco’s expires. They can’t be used at Costco, but they can almost everywhere else. And American Express still has customer service. If you can imagine!
    Funny about Money recently posted..A Night of Mares…My Profile

  • Reepekg

    First, the security argument is lame because plenty of banks like CapOne360 generate passwords for read only access. This is the safe approach to financial aggregation sites, and it is Chase’s deficiency that they don’t offer it.

    Second, I fully recognize I’m in an adversarial relationship with Chase. I churn rewards and avoid all fees. They try to add new restrictions (direct deposit checking account requirement, come on) and add new fees. So far I’m winning by hundreds of dollars.

    My latest battle is when I called in Oct to cancel a card before a Nov 1 annual fee. To keep me as a customer, they promised to waive it. Nov 1 rolled around and lo and behold they charged it anyway. Devious! They have the upper hand, but I swear i will call every day until it is removed…

    I have great relationships with plenty of financial institutions (td ameritrade ftw), but I’m doing battle with Chase and BoA.

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