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Get annual fee waived on unwanted new card

By  |  Published: February 22, 2017

Opening Credits
Columnist Erica Sandberg
Erica Sandberg is a prominent personal finance authority and author of "Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families." She writes "Opening Credits," a weekly reader Q&A column about issues for people who are new to credit, for CreditCards.com.

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Question Dear Opening Credits,
I received a card from a company called Credit One, which I thought was Capital One because of the similar logo. By the time the card came and I realized the mistake. I called and tried to cancel the card, which I never activated, and they told me I would have to pay to cancel it. Is this legal and what can I do about this? – Omar

Answer

Dear Omar,
Having just spent the better part of this morning trying to reach somebody at Credit One via the customer service line, I can see why you are calling out for help. What a frustrating experience! It should not be this way. Understanding exactly what you’re getting into (and out of) should be fairly simple, and that includes having a real human walk you through the process.

I persisted though, eventually cheating by hitting the prompt key to report fraudulent credit card use. That worked. I explained that I was curious about Credit One’s card fees, and asked the representative to review them with me. I did this three times, speaking with three different people. Each time I was told the same thing: There is no fee to close the card. Great!

Then I verified that information by reading the cardholder agreements document on the Credit One website. I saw nothing to indicate a fee to close the account.

It’s possible that the confusion came from what the company does charge for an annual fee. According to the cardholder agreement, an introductory annual membership fee of $75 is billed to the account when you open it. That doesn’t mean that you are stuck with it, though, according to the agreement:

“The Annual Membership Fee is refundable as long as you cancel your Account and have not used your card for any Purchases or Cash Advances and you have not made a payment. ... This Account may be terminated by you at any time by giving notice in writing to Credit One Bank.”

Although you did not activate the card (usually meaning when you call the number on the back of the card or conduct another “get started” process), you did open it when the bank accepted your application. Therefore, if you don’t want the card, do not make a single purchase with it. Instead, write to the bank immediately with your request to terminate the account. Also make a specific statement that you want the annual fee to be removed from your responsibility. Credit One should do this anyway, but it doesn't hurt to put it in writing. Here’s the address:

Credit One Bank
P.O. Box 98873
Las Vegas, NV 89193-8873

Send the letter certified mail and keep a copy for your records.

The next subject I want to broach is that you felt you were misled by the logo. You are right, the images are strikingly similar, from the color scheme to the decorative swoop! If you were tired or distracted, I can see how you’d mix them up based on the visuals alone. Yet even the bank names have the same alliteration and are rounded off with an identical last word (One). But it definitely does highlight the importance of reading all material carefully, from what you see on promotional materials to the long list of terms – and always before you apply.

See related: Activation sticker shock: New card may arrive already live, How to cancel a card

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Updated: 08-20-2017

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