How to Complain About Your Credit Card

Sometimes, your bank makes mistakes. Given how big and complicated banks are, you may feel intimidated trying to complain. How do you navigate the call centers which can feel like a maze? How can you talk to a real person? And will they listen to you, or just enter your complaint into a system, never to be heard from again?

You have more power and consumer protection than you realize. You just need to relax, take a deep breath, and plan your strategy.

The way complaints are handled depends upon the way in which they are received. You will receive different treatment depending upon where the complaint comes from. If your Congressman reached out to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on your behalf, you will likely get a different response than if you call the 800 number on the back of your card. If you are willing to post your issues on social media, you are likely to receive a much faster response than if you call the 800 number. And, if you threaten to close your account you will almost always receive better offers than if you are just complacent (or you scream at the poor customer service rep, without mentioning the magic words of close account? or complain to CFPB.?)

Keep these things in mind when you complain:

  1. 1
    Act as soon as possible! A lot of your consumer protections disappear once you wait more than 60 days from the incident. As soon as you see a problem, pick up the phone.
  2. 2
    Keep a log of every interaction. If you call: record the date and time of the call, and the name and ID of the representative and the outcome. If you write: keep a copy of the letter, and the date the letter was sent.
  3. 3
    Stay calm and be nice. When you are on the phone with a customer service representative, he or she was usually not the cause of the issue. In fact, that person is critical for your success! You want them to be on your side. And, remember Customer Service Representatives are usually given a certain amount of discretionary approval authority. You want them to use it on you.
  4. 4
    Don’t be afraid to let the government help you if you are unable to resolve the complaint directly with the bank. We will help you use the resources of the recently established Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Step 1:

Either call or post on social media.

Social media

Complain via social media? Really? Believe it or not, banks are very conscious of their social media presence. They typically have small, highly trained, higher paid on-shore employees working on their social media desks. If you are willing to post a complaint on the Facebook page of a bank, you will usually have someone personally look into it. Their goal is for you to be happy and praise them at the end of the complaint.

Consider the following tips on Facebook:

  • Don't reveal personal information especially credit card number, transaction details, etc.
  • Don't be aggressive or use threatening language.

A message that works well would look like this:

Usually a big fan of Chase. But you guys really made a mess of my last payment. Really frustrated. But hoping you can help. Ready to stay to a loyal customer but only if you make it right! Don’t want to close my account after all these years….

Typically, someone will send you a message and will likely give you contact information. Only once you make direct contact can you then go into details.

If they resolve your issue post a thank you note online. Tell them how happy you are. (If they don’t help out, keep reading below!).


When you speak with customer service, make sure you know exactly what you want out of the encounter. (For instance: Reverse the late fee, reimburse interest that you dispute, or dispute a charge.) Be sure to be friendly, but succinct. Let them know how long you have been a customer, how valuable you are to them, what you think they did wrong, what would fix it, and how happy you would be if they did.

Here is an example of what to say:

I have been a customer for 10 years. I spend, on average, $4,000 per month on my credit card. If my problem is not solved, I will ask you to close my account.

I believe that you charged me a late fee when you shouldn’t have. I mailed my payment on the 4th of January. That is the same day that I mail my payment every month. But, for some reason, you say that it arrived late this month.

I would like you to: (a) reverse the late fee that you charged, and (b) ensure that no reporting has been done to the credit agency.

I appreciate your help, and understand mistakes happen. But we can resolve this quickly and I will recommend your service to a friend if you are able to reverse that late fee issue on this phone call.

If the agent does not help you, then you should ask to speak with the team that handles complaints. If there is no such team, then ask for a manager. You will go through the same script as above. If you still don’t have resolution, then let them know your next steps.

Below is an example of what to say:

I am very disappointed that we were not able to reach a solution on this phone call. As I stated at the beginning of the call, I believe that you should give me? You leave me no choice. I will now reach out to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to lodge a formal complaint. In addition, I may need to seek legal guidance. Please register this as a formal complaint, and expect to hear from the CFPB shortly.

Can we please proceed with closing my account? (If they want to transfer you to a team that handles closing customer accounts let them. These teams are usually called Retention? and they may have more authority to waive fees or fix your problem. It is worth a try!)

Why mention closing the account? Banks hate to lose customers. Most call centers receive incentives to stop customers from leaving the bank. You can always change your mind at the very end if you want to keep the account open. But when you are transferred to a Retention team, you will be offered the best offers to stay. That often includes the ability to reverse fees, reduce APRs and increase limits.

Remember - you can close an account, even if there is a balance. Closing just means that any open credit limit is closed, and you can’t use the card to spend. The magic words to use if you carry a balance:

I am going to close my account, and I have a check from another card issuer. I am going to use them now to pay off my remaining balance and do a balance transfer. It would be really easy for you to stop me.

Step 2:

Get a Representative to help.

The CFPB at Your Service

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau was established in 2011. It exists to protect and help everyday consumers. This is a particularly effective way to complain. They have a team of dedicated people who will make sure your complaint gets the attention it deserves. We actually met the CFPB team and they are friendly, pro-active and love helping customers.

There is another benefit of complaining via the CFPB. Every complaint is then added to a database. This agency can use this data to see if other people are facing similar issues. If they see something that is systemic, they could investigate and take action.

By complaining via the CFPB, you are making sure banks can’t hide big issues.

At MagnifyMoney, we believe that complaint statistics about banks should be public. We are thrilled that the CFPB has made their data public and we will be analyzing and publishing results monthly on this website so that you can see who has the most complaints. Curious how your bank performs? Visit here.

And the CFPB has made it easy to complain. Just visit You can track your complaint status online.

The CFPB will reach out to the bank on your behalf. This process can take up to 2 months (on average). The bureau will do everything they can to make sure there is a fair outcome.

Your Representative in Congress

Depending upon the severity of your complaint, you may want to reach out to your Congressman. Surprised? They have teams of people who love to help in this way. (Make sure to reach out to your congressman, not your senator. You can find their contact information here.

Here is a template of a letter that you can use when reaching out to your representative:

Dear Representative [Name of Congressman/woman],

I live in your district, and would appreciate your help.

I bank with xx bank, and I believe that they have treated me unfairly. Although I have complained to the bank directly, they have refused to handle my issue in a satisfactory manner.

[Brief description of your incident, and what you think a resolution would be].

Could you please help me with this complaint - I do not know who else to turn to, and I have been told that your office is extremely helpful.

Thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.

Best Regards,
Your Name

Step 3:

Still no success?

At this point, your options are limited. You could:

  • Retain a lawyer. But do the cost-benefit, and know that fighting a big bank in court is never a fun thing to do.
  • Let them know how un-happy you are, and why, via social media. We actually think you would get more out of this
  • Leave a complaint with the OCC. The OCC regulates all national banks. You can leave your complaint here.
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