Citi Closes Fuel-Partnered Cards Without Warning

Oct 21, 2009

Customers with certain Citi MasterCards have found their accounts terminated this week in a move that came with little to no warning from the credit card giant.

 

Citi has confirmed that it is in fact shutting down customer accounts.  In a statement, the bank said that it “decided to close a limited number of oil partner co-branded MasterCard accounts.” This number includes Shell, Citgo, Exxon Mobil and Phillips 66-Conoco cards.

 

The accounts were terminated last Wednesday, with letters sent out by the bank to inform customers of the change on Monday, according to a Citi spokesman.  The bank declined to reveal how many accounts were cancelled or how much available credit they represent.  However, unlike Citi’s move to shut down its Home Depot cards, the oil-partnered cards will still be made available for new customers.

 

Citi would not say why the affected accounts were shut down, saying in its statement only that it is continuously reevaluating its products.  Analysts noted that after its third quarter earnings report posted $8 billion in losses, Citi has been drastically reducing its outstanding credit to customers.

 

“It is kind of an extraordinary action, but these are extraordinary times,” said Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research for CreditCards.com.

 

The most devastating effect of the card shutdowns could be damage to customers’ credit scores. Card holders who think their cards were unfairly cancelled can try contacting the bank for reinstatement, but John Ulzheimer of credit.com doesn’t see much hope for that strategy.

 

“In this environment,” he said, “it’s not as successful as it was in the heyday of credit cards, where you could in fact call and plead your case.”

 

Photo courtesy of SqueakyMarmot under the Creative Commons License.