Shut Down! US Bank Closes All of My Credit Card Accounts

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US Bank Shut Down All Of My Credit Cards

Like many of us in this hobby, I usually look forward to going through the “junk” mail after returning from a trip.  Among all of the junk, I find spending bonus notices, new bank account incentives, and targeted credit card offers with higher welcome bonuses.  So after returning from our recent Walt Disney World trip, it was with furrowed brow that I read four copies of the same letter from US Bank.  A US Bank shut down letter!

US Bank wasted no time or words.  The first sentence stated, “Please be advised that US Bank has elected to close your credit card account(s) at this time in accordance with the terms of your Cardmember Agreement.”

Let’s go through the situation and look at what happened.

My US Bank Credit Card Portfolio

My wife and I each had US Bank’s FlexPerks Travel Rewards Amex card and Club Carlson Visa card accounts about five years ago.  Once the Club Carlson Visa lost it’s most lucrative benefits and we used all of our FlexPoints, we closed all of these accounts about four years ago.

I was delighted to be approved again for the FlexPerks Travel Rewards card and the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa card about two years ago and one year and a half ago, respectively.  We also did the same for my wife (I was an authorized user).  These are the four accounts that got shut down by US Bank.

Redeeming Outstanding Rewards

On the bright side, the letter stated that the accounts would be closed 30 days from the date of the letter.  I did have the ability to redeem my rewards prior to account closure!  Let’s look at how I redeemed.

FlexPoints have solid value when used for travel (1.5 cents per point), and I consider these points to be particularly, um, flexible in that they can be used for a wide variety of travel redemptions.  I’ll be getting into that further in a future post.  Unfortunately, I do not have any 100% definite travel which I currently need to plan for, so I couldn’t take advantage of this rate.  I decided to simply cash out at a 1 point to 1 cent ratio via statement credit.  Redemptions via statement credit require transactions in multiples of 5,000 FlexPoints.  I redeemed the remainder of the points for an Amazon gift card from a local Kroger.  US Bank’s Real-Time Rewards made me whole for the Amazon gift card (another topic we will dive into more in a future post).  We redeemed my wife’s FlexPoints the same way.

Given that we had already received all of the Radisson Rewards points into our Radisson accounts, there was no redemption issue there.

While a Bummer, I Didn’t Care About These Accounts Much

You may wonder why I redeemed all points prior to calling the number in the letter to find out more.  Did I want to try to keep the accounts open?  The answer is no, not particularly.  Ironically, I greatly decreased my spending on these card accounts about four months ago, as I was obtaining more lucrative rewards with other cards.  And that wasn’t going to change.  My lame joke is that my almost non-existent spend on the cards in the last four months must have been the red flag to US Bank to close the accounts!

This US Bank shut down is the first true one for me.  Chase had electronically shut down my accounts a few years ago but re-opened them after a manual review one week later (which I didn’t initiate).  Given the lack of information provided in the US Bank letter, I was curious to hear how the “Account Review Manager” would enlighten me.

US Bank Shut Down
US Bank tends to offer elevated welcome offers around the Olympic Games.

Calling US Bank’s Account Review Manager

I called multiple times last week, but I received no answer.  During my first call this week, I finally decided to leave a voicemail.  After all, perhaps the Account Review Manager wasn’t screening her calls; maybe she was busy closing other customers’ credit card accounts.  The same day I left the voicemail, I received a call from the manager late in the afternoon.

Initial Conversation (Paraphrased)

  • Me:  Hi.  Yes, I have been calling to ask why US Bank decided to close my credit card accounts.
  • Manager: US Bank is not comfortable with continuing the relationship.
  • Me:  Why is US Bank not comfortable?
  • Manager:  US Bank does not release that information.

It all sounded like I was on the receiving end of an awkward college break-up.  I proceeded (in vain) to ask different variations of “Why?” while continuing to hear the bank’s version of “It’s not you, it’s me”, even though it was me. I couldn’t help but smile as I listened to the non-answers.

Was the closure based on a routine or random review of the accounts?  The manager told me this was from a “systematic review.”  How does US Bank define “systematic”?  The manager stated that US Bank has “systems” that “monitor” things, and these systems let them know if they see “something.”  That’s the best explanation I received.

Moving On

I asked how to go about getting the annual fee back on the Radisson Visa card which I had just paid in January.  She stated that she could not process a refund of this annual fee, but I should call customer service “to see” if they can refund this annual fee.  The manager said that she had noted on our accounts that customer service should “assist” us.  I interpreted both of these statements as a non-guarantee that I would get the annual fees refunded but thanked the manager, nonetheless.  The call ended.

Annual Fee Refund

In short, I am getting my annual fee back, but US Bank is making me work for it.  I called customer service, and they quickly let me know that I will receive the $75 back to the account, but it can take up to 48 hours to show up.  After that, I need to call customer service back to request a paper check via US mail.  We plan to follow the same steps for my wife’s Radisson Visa account.  As we had redeemed FlexPoints for the annual fees associated with the FlexPerks cards, I chose not to pursue a pro-rated refund of those annual fees.  You win on that one, US Bank.

What Caused The US Bank Shut Down?

I won’t presume to know what exactly caused these account closures, but I do know my behavior with the cards.  Of course, I paid the accounts off in full each statement.  I put lots of spending on the cards, mostly on the FlexPerks cards and some on the Radisson cards to take advantage of the free night certificates after $10,000 in spend (which you can do three times per year).  I used most, if not all, of the credit limit for many of the statement cycles.

What I Learned

By opening and using these accounts, I learned plenty prior to the closure.  Here are the main points:

  • US Bank does not have once per lifetime rules on their welcome offers.
  • I spent plenty on the cards, and I still got about two good years of awards and benefits from them prior to the US Bank shut down.
  • I had 30 days to use rewards prior to account closure.
  • Don’t rely on US Bank to provide any substantive information regarding an account closure.

US Bank Shut Down – Final Thoughts

Looking back, I don’t think there is anything I would have done differently.  In this hobby, I consider a periodic shutdown as an inevitable risk, or a “cost of doing business.”  I enjoyed the rewards the US Bank cards provided at the time, but I’ve focused more on other cards lately, anyway.

I do find it interesting that this came after I had stopped spending on the card for four months.  And I have heard of people having issues with the Altitude card but not much on the FlexPerks Visa or Radisson cards.

Has US Bank closed your credit card accounts?  What reason(s) did the bank give you, if any?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence. An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their travel goals, Disney-related and otherwise.

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48 COMMENTS

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48 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that there was some sort of card use behavior that prompted US Bank to close the accounts. In my experience, non-use isn’t enough.

    Heck, I have a FlexPerks Rewards card that I haven’t made a single charge to in probably three years, and they recently renewed it and send me a new card. I figured that due to my high credit score and significant charging on other cards, they’re hoping I’ll start using their card again. Doesn’t cost them much to keep it open unless they view you as high risk, which may have been the case with you for some reason.

  2. I used to work for the Executive Office of second largest American bank. We would occasionally “fire” a customer because the cost of keeping them exceeded their value to the bank. When asked why, we would also say that we no longer feel the relationship is compatible or that we regret not being able to meet their needs and feel that it would serve both parties to end the relationship. We never gave the specific reason because in some cases it was based on a proprietary analysis of the customer’s account activity. I’m not surprised that US Bank follows a similar practice.

    What’s funny, though, is that my wife just applied for the Radisson card and was told that they had no record of their 120K point offer that was written about on this site and others. I actually sent them copies of some of these stories to show that the offer existed and they approved the bonus offer for her card!

    • bgodiver, Thanks for the comment. The situation that your wife encountered we also experienced when my wife applied for the Radisson card. They did not acknowledge their own elevated offer when we called! The CSR wouldn’t even let us send the proof (offer webpage) to her. Oh, well, we obviously won’t have to deal with that nonsense for a while.

  3. I’ve often wondered why a bank keeps an account open when the bill is paid in full every time and there’s very little activity. What’s the upside for the bank? So perhaps, just perhaps, the bankers are actually thinking about what they’re doing instead of constantly striving to be the big shots like Chase. And failing miserably. The conversation with the so-called manager is hilarious. Why bother to even give you a number to call if the manager will tell you nothing? Typical bank behaviour. This is, indeed, a most interesting hobby!

  4. Seems I remember a few years ago that some accounts receive manual reviews when the spending stops. Also, seems there were rumors that if you keep spending in the usual patterns, the systems won’t flag you. So I wouldn’t stop spending on those USB cards if you are using them. JMO

  5. Sorry they closed your cards. Fortunately, those two cards are nothing you will miss. Plenty of better rewards cards out there.

  6. How much did you buy in VGCs for each card and over what period of time? I assume you did not purchase VGCs with a US Bank Altitude CC?

    • BOND9536, I have not held the Altitude. This article reflects the Radisson and Flexperks Travel Rewards Visa only.

      • Thanks for the head’s up. It is a warning shot across the bow for all US Bank customers. Can you disclose how much you bought in GCs and over what period of time?

  7. It seems like the consensus is that Benjy was doing some serious MSing on the US Bank cards. Frankly, it’s better to get a wakeup call shutdown from from a crappy bank like US Bank instead of Chase, AmEx, or Citi. US Bank doubtless offers the absolute worst customer service of all the large banks — it’s the only institution I can name where a customer service rep is allowed to tell a customer to “shut up” and then the local branch calls the next day to solicit more business. Consider it a divine intervention.

  8. Not sure why you bothered to write up this post. The sensational headline and then being coy about what rightly justified them shutting you down.

  9. You MS’d and got burned, right? Why be coy? We don’t need to hear how much you don’t care about US Bank, mate. Please provide some useful data points.

  10. Yep. The same thing recently happened to me with Chase and last week with Citibank. I was doing massive buying of Simon Mall gift cards and then going to Walmart to liquidate them. I did make some bill payments to those cards. It was a bummer losing ALL my Chase accounts and Citibank also did the same thing. I got the same type of letter and they wouldn’t give any details. I formally appealed it and they sent a letter basically just saying they opted for their right to cancel and I wasn’t their “typical” client nor were my activities.

    So stay away from gift card purchasing as all the banks are on to it now.

    • I was shut down (5 cards) by chase as well. Only about 5k GC’s in one month with a 20k limit. I explained there was a great bonus deal (buy $100, get $15) on HD GC’s and I was updating my bathroom. They agreed and reinstated me. I really don’t use my chase cards any more.

  11. Must be the gift card thing. What else could it be? Don’t know where some people get them that Am Ex and now U.S. Bank are getting their hackles up.

  12. Question.
    If the bank close your account is different that if you close it ?
    How do the credit report bureau how that ?

    Thanks

  13. Buying gift cards and maybe VGCs with the old money-order-straight-back-into-spending-account cycle. More and more banks are catching on.

    • You MS’d and got burned, right? Why be coy? We don’t need to hear how much you don’t care about US Bank, mate. Please provide some useful data points.

  14. US Bank is the WORST! I recently closed my checking account, HELOC, and credit card after 30+ years of business due to their greed, ubiquitous fees and poor customer service. You should be glad that they terminated the relationship… GOOD RIDDANCE!

    • Sure buddy…. Sure you did all that…. You probably had no accounts there and got turned down for your first US Bank card.

  15. Firs there’s more to this than meets the eye I think and secondly maybe others will follow suit making room for people that actually use their cards and are loyal. Hackers beware !!

    • There is only 1 logical answer to this, you’re not a profit customer in their eyes. But it’s okay, there is still lots of fish in the pond.

  16. Cmon be straight with us here – you must have done something identifiable that you are aware of or at least give a good educated guess. Otherwise this is a significant warning shot over the bow of this hobby.

      • If the purpose of your article is to help the people who read it, why don’t you mention this in the actual article?

      • hmmmmm…….. SOo & I both have radisson biz cards, and spend rather robustly on them, though we do try to mix in significant non ms — more than half the # of transactions — tet if they were looking at raw %’s of $’s spent, we’re often well over 70% ms. (vgc’s, mgc+, etc…. ) Yet haven’t got pinched….. yet.

        Benjy, maybe you have reasons to be (unhelpfully) reserved about how you spent on the card previously — prior to your slow down. Yet if not, it would be potentially illuminating for your readers to know more of your past spending patterns. Was it essentially all gc’s and ms? Cycling credit lines?

        • Escot, I’m glad to know the Radisson Business cards are beneficial for you. Gift cards encapsulated the vast majority of all spend on the Radisson cards. Flexperks had more other spend than the Radisson cards.

          • Interesting insight….. thanks. I should have written somewhere, “I’m sorry for your loss….” (flip as that might have sounded) Yet your reply does alert me that my days with US Bank may be soon to end. (I too have had miserable experiences calling their reps about other matters — starting to fear that even legitimate calls could put unwanted eyes on the account….

            PS: Disconcerting that current laws permit banks to treat customers like this — as in, you’re guilty of something, and we don’t have to tell you….. And this is America? One last thing, occurs to me to wonder if banks can start shutting down credit cards simply due to the advancing age of cardholders….. (and then not disclose that reason — because they can…… and because admitting as much would cause them all sorts of PR problems…. Might be a subject for m2m to tackle one day….)

      • Paying your credit card bill with Walmart bill pay or anything that isn’t your checking account. You can’t pay your credit card bill with Plastiq.

  17. Shutdown letter 12/18 after buying a few GCs for Radisson Business. Radisson Personal and Business were closed as well as Edge Business and personal online banking. I only bought very few GCs overall (a batch for opening bonus and this batch) and did not take part in the 3x 10k certs on the personal card. I intended to keep Radisson and Radisson Business long term (mainly for the annual cert). Radisson was 4 years old and Radisson Bus not even 1 year. My plan was to proceed with 1x 10k in order to generate cert and boost point balance.

    • Interesting – I did about a portion (less than half) of my spending for this card in the form of VGC at various places and the rest as routine spending on things that were not in bonus categories on my other cards. I stopped several months ago because i didn’t want to risk my free night/annual bonus and would like to keep this card long term.

      I still use the card sparsely and pay it off in full each month. They did give me a huge credit limit so I have never exceeded 20% utilization on this specific card which is perhaps a good factor compared to Benjy’s using “used most, if not all, of the credit limit for many of the statement cycles.”

  18. Maybe they didn’t really care too much before because they earned from swipe fees, but now that you have stopped spending on the cards, their system might have (rightfully) determined that you have moved on to something else and then it decided you were not going to be a profitable customer to them anymore and then decided that an account shut down would be the best course of action.

    • Four accounts, two in his wife’s name, all at once? I strongly doubt that was simply from non use. When a bank sees a profitable customer move on to other banks’ cards, they will send a note saying “use our card or else we will close it.”

      No way there is an innocent explanation for this. The computer caught Benjy engaging in high risk and/or suspicious activity, for sure.

  19. Had a similar thing happen to me 5 yrs ago with BoA, despite being current on all card payments. Watch your credit scores now, you may get “dinged” for having bank initiated closed accounts.

    • I agree with D.A. in this doesn’t look good on FICO scores. First, w/out an increase by SP elsewhere to cover the loss of the closure & carrying balance(s), score can take a big dip. Example, if you were using less than 30% of credit (actually 28.9%), and now go over that percentage, this is a sure fire score drop. Then there’s the issue as D.A mentioned, a lender cutting one off…..there goes more points, yet not as much as over-utilization.

      FICO scoring models wants to see below 30% & preferably 10% (actually 28.9% & 8.9%), this can hurt far worse until balances are down. At this stage, I suggest to get another card ASAP with a decent limit to offset (& maybe exceed) what you had with US Bank. The score dip will be temporarily, make 3-4 on-time payments & more than minimum, you should rebound fast.

      Finally, whatever triggered the closure of accounts, it’s best to discontinue the behavior to prevent the same happening with other cards/lines of credit. Many cards has a clause on excess purchase of cash equivalents, even if not disclosed on application, other than the interest will be same as a cash withdrawal (this in itself should be a hint it’s frowned upon). I’ve yet to use this on my accounts, will use for true emergencies only.

      Good Luck!

      • I’ve been saying a Ding others said no .If ur FICO is 800 just guess how much lower and for how long ?
        CHEERs

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