The $700 credit-card balance that won't go away — and the bank that stands in her path

Name: Amy Berman
Age: 33
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Production coordinator
Goal: Get a better credit card

For the last six months, Amy's been chasing after her bank. All the 33-year-old Chicagoan wanted was to lower the interest rate on her credit card in preparation for her upcoming condo renovation. Since her rate shot up to 27 percent about a year ago (she was late on a few payments), knocking the balance down became nearly impossible. She's been eating out less, avoiding pricey haircuts and shoe shopping sprees, and targeting $50 per month toward the balance, minimum. But the last $700 on that card just doesn't seem to budge.

She initially wanted to transfer the balance to a zero interest card. And at first her bank was on board. But untold hours of hold music and several confusing conversations later, she was denied-told she couldn't do a zero-balance transfer to one of the bank's other cards, and a low-interest cash advance on a new card to pay off the old one wouldn't fly either.

Now Amy's wondering if she doesn't have two problems on her hands: credit card debt, and a bank that doesn't seem able or willing to help. "It's like there's just no way to get ahead," Amy said. So she's started researching different banks. "It would be ideal to change," she said, though she acknowledged she's likely to procrastinate for a while before making a decision. "I find banking really daunting, so I'm just not sure I will do it."

What to do? Should she move banks or focus her energy on finding ways to pay off the debt more aggressively?

Do you have a money quandary? A success story? A cautionary tale? We'd love to hear from you. Send an email to and include a photo.

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