Sorry, Your Card Is No Good

A nightmarish tale from the realm of consumer credit ratings

Who could resist the temptation? The ever solicitous Citibank dangled before me in the autumn mail an offer of a preapproved Visa card that would grant one frequent-flyer mile on American Airlines for each dollar charged. The lure of these two American obsessions -- credit and free travel -- proved irresistible, so I mailed the form and soon received cards for my wife and me. A month later, after we had rung up more than $4,200 in charges (about 20% of what would be needed for a free round-trip domestic ticket), my wife pulled out the card to purchase a blouse....

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