The Curmudgeon recently received a notice from his credit card company informing him that it was raising his rate. Now The Curmudgeon carries very little credit card debt – years go by without his credit card balance hitting four figures, mostly because his philosophy is that if you don’t have the cash to pay for something you should just wait until you do, with notable exceptions for things like appliances and major car and home repairs. Another exception is internet purchases, which The Curmudgeon makes only grudgingly: he loves the convenience and the selection and the prices but just hates having to use his credit card for something simple like books and music and arch supports and wrist braces and ginger capsules and liquid fiber and other such things that you can spend weeks driving from store to store without finding, but it still bugs him to no end that you have to charge such purchases. Despite this, despite carrying only small credit card balances for which the interest never amounts to much, the rate increase still bothered him. After all, interest rates have barely risen for years and the Federal Reserve makes money available to banks for practically nothing. It was the principle of the thing: he didn’t see any reason why he should pay even a single percentage point more in interest than he was already paying.
So he set off to find a better rate with one simple criterion: he wanted the lowest rate possible. He wasn’t interested in an offer that involved transferring a balance from another card because he doesn’t have a balance worth transferring and he didn’t want a super-duper twelve-month introductory rate that would just leave him needing to do this whole thing over again in a year. No, all he wanted was the lowest rate he could find, and it turned out that the lowest rate is offered by the Lake Michigan Credit Union of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Curmudgeon quickly completed an online application and just as quickly, within seconds of hitting the “send” button, received a return email informing him that his application had been “pre-approved.” The Curmudgeon wasn’t surprised: twice in his life he has applied for mortgages and both lenders used the same term to describe him: un-American. By this they meant that he had no meaningful consumer debt and a very high credit score, and now, even better than that, he had paid off a home less than ten years into a thirty-year mortgage.
It should have been a done deal at that point but it wasn’t: they wanted a photocopy of his driver’s license and copies of his latest pay stub and 2017 W-2. He sent them promptly and received another email: a form authorizing the credit union to request a copy of his tax return from the IRS.
Six times in his life The Curmudgeon has borrowed money to buy cars and twice to buy houses and he also has applied for numerous credit cards – this isn’t the first time he’s dumped a credit card because the rate became uncompetitive – and no one has ever asked to see his tax return.
He wrote back to the folks at the Lake Michigan Credit Union and told them that their request was unreasonable, that he withdraws his application, and that they can go take a flying leap into Lake Michigan.