They are designed to watch for even the most minor of mistakes and misunderstandings which they can eventually turn into a chain of never ending fees and fines.
While I won't disagree on the harm credit cards can do, I've never had an instance where paying in full the next month (minus any courtesy credits given) has resulted in ongoing fees. They've also included the fee in the statement amount on the next bill (so it wasn't hidden somewhere where it'd be hard to figure out what to pay to avoid interest.)
Some fees are definitely very punitive and if income is tight the unexpected fees can cause cascading issues, but I disagree that they're designed to blow up a minor mistake into endless fees if someone generally pays attention to their bills, especially if they contact the card issuer and remedy the mistake. Maybe I've just been extra lucky with credit cards, though.
You've been extra lucky. Both me and my father have been hit by the "MBNA fraud" where the credit card company pretends not to receive your payment when they get it in order to charge interest and penalties -- my father was actually hit by it with MBNA, back when it was first orignated, and I was hit by Chase on the former Amtrak card. MBNA pulled this off by managing to get their own branch of the post office so that they could lie about receipt dates; Chase did the same thing. Anyway, MBNA was eventually criminally convicted for doing this systematically, but banks still do it.
When I escalated with Chase they backed off -- they didn't admit guilt but they immediately refunded all the phony charges. MBNA did the same thing with my father. This is the behavior of a guilty company: they know most people won't escalate their complaints, so they refund the fraudulently obtained money to the people who *do* spend a lot of time and effort to push their complaints -- this avoids lawsuits and they still make money off the rest of the frauds. It works for them.
I've found that cards with annual fees usually play nicer with their customers -- perhaps because they have some income stream even if we pay off our bill each month. But not always.
Interesting to see that me_little_me got hit with the *electronic* version of the MBNA fraud at BoA -- so it's still one of banksters' standard frauds. As usual, escalating sufficiently causes them to back off.
If you don't know all the standard frauds that the banksters will pull, it's not a good idea to get involved with the banksters in any way. Even if you do know them, keep your real money elsewhere, at an institution which doesn't pull this sort of fraud. (I have money at a local bank, a local credit union, and one of only three reputable large stockbrokers in the US -- there are only three reputable large stockbrokers, and each of them has known problems, but mine is only known for problems around death and inheritance issues -- which is why my heirs have enough money elsewhere to get those straightened out.)
Edited by neroden, 23 October 2017 - 05:17 AM.