Bank mergers and you
Bankrate reporter Leslie McFadden contributed this entry.
Over the course of the last two weeks, Washington Mutual and Wachovia credit
cardholders have certainly heard they will soon have new issuers, whether they
like it or not. JPMorgan Chase bought WaMu's banking assets and customer deposits
from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after it collapsed -- the largest bank
failure in U.S. history. Citigroup agreed to purchase Wachovia's banking operations.
"As a result of the deal, Chase becomes the number one credit card issuer
(in terms of outstanding loans) in the United States," Chase Card Services
spokeswoman Tanya Madison wrote in an e-mail to Ellen Cannon.
Bank spokespeople couldn't provide many details, but this is what they did
say with regard to existing credit card accounts at WaMu and Wachovia:
"It's business as usual for WaMu customers," says Madison. "They'll
continue to use their same cards, online banking tools and customer service
phone numbers and mailing addresses."
At Wachovia, spokeswoman Mary Eshet echoed the business-as-usual response.
"There are no immediate changes. Cards will continue to have the same terms
and conditions and operate just as they have. After the transaction is complete,
if there are any changes, they will be communicated well in advance to customers."
Of course, cardholders are not off the hook for outstanding balances. They
must keep paying bills on time and sending them to the usual address until otherwise
Account terms could change in the future, so try to pay down balances as much
As for rewards cardholders, it remains to be seen how accumulated points will
be treated. "I think it is likely they will be preserved," Wachovia's
Read correspondence that comes from either issuer -- what looks like junk may
be important. A single late or missed payment could hammer your credit scores.
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