Sunday, August 5, 2012

Just Saved a Legacy Card, My Macy's AMEX

I got a Macy's VISA in 2006. As I recall, opening that account took about $100 off my purchase, which is why I did it. I was in law school at the time, and I purchased a couple of suits on sale. This was a huge purchase for me at the time. It would still be a big purchase today, but at that point while I was earning very little, it was as big as things got for me.

Fast forward a few years: I've graduated, moved, and basically forgotten about my Macy's card. It lived in a box with some other old cards and my student ID. I started becoming a credit card / travel rewards geek slowly, but hit critical mass just this year. I applied for my first AMEX in 2010, another in 2011, and then just recently made several moves in terms of applying for new cards and upgrading my old ones.

It was while checking my credit report for this geekery that I noticed the forgotten Macy's card (or at least, what I deduced to be that card). 

This was on my current credit report:

Reported since 2009, but opened in 2006.

A quick google search indicated that DSNB AMEX is related to Macy's accounts. However, I had never had an AMEX before 2010. I looked back to a credit report from 2010 and found this:

closed in 2009

Unbeknownst to me, Macy's (and Bloomingdale's) credit cards shifted from VISA to AMEX while I was busy not using my Macy's card. When I figured out that I still had an open account (at least, as far as I could tell from the credit report), I immediately called in to try to get a card issued so I could keep the account from being closed. I was told that accounts were normally closed after 3 years of inactivity, but that mine was still open even though I hadn't used it in 4 years. I wouldn't have been heartbroken if this had gone the other way, but it was still a much-needed win in a period of some turmoil.

The Macy's agent really went out of her way to help me. It involved a substantial amount of work on her part since the account had been dormant for so long. Beyond that, I had moved out of state since I'd last used the card, and updating all of that was a challenge. However, she was able to get me a card reissued to my current address. I've since used it, and it works!

They had lowered the credit limit automatically due to disuse (ostensibly a protection in case the card had been stolen, and one that did not bother me). What matters is having an account that's been open for 6 years continue to stay open. The card doesn't give much in the way of rewards, so I don't foresee putting a lot of spending on it. Nevertheless, it will be valuable to keep it open so the average account age on my credit report does not fall.

As a native Floridian, I have fond memories of Burdines. I knew that Federated Department Stores had purchased Burdines and Marshall Fields, but it had espaced my attention that the company changed names from Federated to Macy's in 2007. This didn't have any bearing on anything, but I found it to be interesting trivia discovered as I followed the trail of my former Macy's VISA.

I think the take away from this is to take advantage of each and every free credit report to which you are entitled. That means 1 a year from each of the three agencies through the real free (beware of impostors). Some good advice that I've heard (don't remember where) is to pull one from a different agency every 4 months rather than doing them all at once to give you the best picture you can have without paying for a monitoring service.

Speaking of which, I recently signed up for Citi IdentityMonitor; that link will get you the service for $4.95/month (it's normally about 3 times that). Thanks to @MommyPoints for the link. I don't know that I'll keep the service forever, but right now while I've been applying for cards and contemplating refinancing, it's proving its worth with instant notifications. 

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