So I just had an interesting experience that I want to share. It turns out that Bank of America will not let me use the money I put on my credit card. Here's the situation:
I have a credit limit of, say X = $1000.
I know that I have some large charges coming up, which will put me near my limit. So, not only do I pay my credit card off completely, I put extra money on it. Let's say that makes my balance Z = -$500. It's a negative, because a positive number means you owe the credit card company. All this money has cleared. My stated balance on the web site is -$500.
What do you think my credit available should be? I would say $1500, the $1000 credit limit plus the extra $500 I put on the card, but hey, what do I know about math?
Now, let's charge some stuff to the card. Let's say it's Y = $900. These charges are pending, they have not cleared yet. In fact, it's Friday night, so they are not going to clear for days.
What do you think my credit available should be?
The calculation should be simple. $Z + $Y gives you the amount on the credit card (-$500 + $900 = $400). Subtract this amount from your credit limit, and you get your available credit (e.g., X - $400, or $1000 - $400 = $600 available).
Bank of America, however, feels that my available credit is X - Y = $1000 - $900 = $100. Thus I have NO ACCESS to the $500 I put on the credit card so that I would still be able to use it without worrying about exceeding my credit limit.
In fact, the web site listing your transactions does things correctly. It shows all your pending charges, and shows what your balance is. So your credit available SHOULD be your credit limit minus your balance. Except according to Bank of America. Because they don't know how to do math. (Actually, they're very good at accounting. Witness the fact that they received huge bailouts while posting incredible profits. That's actually pretty brilliant. And yes, that was sarcastic.)
After waiting on hold for 45 minutes, by the way, I was told that this will "correct itself" as the pending charges clear. Thanks. I have the warm fuzzies from that.
The result? For me, I'm telling everyone I know NOT to use Bank of America anymore (witness this blog post). That actually makes me sad, because I've been loyal to them for 7 years now because they were the first US company to trust me as an adult with a credit card. (Note: my Canadian credit rating was impeccable. The US, which uses the exact same credit agencies as Canada - Equifax, Experion and TransUnion - will not recognize anything achieved outside the US. So when I moved here, I was essentially treated as a 16 year old. In fact, the fact that I have only had credit for 7 years and 9 months still shows up as a negative on my credit ratings.)
The other result? Let's just say I've applied for another credit card with another bank (which has already been approved and is in the mail), which will now be the credit card I use for all my purchases.
Sorry Bank of America. If you were willing to acknowledge that I can use my own money, maybe I'd stay.Update: 1 hour, 20 minutes later
I don't know if the person I spoke with on the phone found someone who could fix my problem, but my bank account now shows my balance as being positive (having cleared all but one pending charge) and my credit available as correct. But the detailed listing still shows all the pending charges as not yet cleared. I have screen shots of both states, so I have digital proof that I did not imagine anything!! And I will definitely check tomorrow to see if the pending charges show as cleared in the detailed listing, since maybe I'm catching the system during a point where one part has been updated but not another?