Washington Mutual's credit-card operations officially transitioned to JPMorgan Chase late yesterday, according to a source. I'm told the transition went smoothly. What's more, former WaMu cardmembers can now begin to combine their credit limits with other Chase cards. Today's blog entry explains the process and the steps you'll need to take if you want to convert or combine your cards.
Here's what you'll need: the phone number from the back of your WaMu credit card or your Chase credit card (either phone number will work -- but calling Chase is best because the WaMu phone numbers are being deluged with calls; if you don't have a Chase card, use this phone number to dial in: 800-524-3880). You'll need the card number to your old WaMu card (which is now officially a Chase card).
Once you've got that stuff rounded up, you'll call customer service. Once you get a representative on the phone, let that person know that you would like to combine your old WaMu card with your current Chase card. The combination process takes all of 30 seconds. But do note: Chase will NOT be able to move your entire limit from your WaMu card to Chase. Instead, you'll have to leave $100-$500 (or thereabouts) on the old WaMu card. Chase's system is set up so that a small part of the old WaMu card survives. This is not unusual. USAA, for example, does the same thing.
Once you've done the combination, you'll need to make a decision: do you leave the small-limit card open or do you just close it and sacrifice the tiny limit that you've left on the old WaMu card? If you decide to leave the card open -- with a limit of $100-$500 -- the phone call ends there.
If, however, you decide to close the old WaMu card, you'll get transferred to a "closing representative." Once you've been transferred to the closing rep, you'll be asked if you want to keep the small-limit card open. You'll be told that some customers keep them open because they use the low-limit card for Internet purchases and other purchases like that. If you decide that you still want to close it, the closing rep will do that. But you will sacrifice the small limit that's left on the card. Finally, if you have a balance on the old WaMu card, you'll receive a closing statement, which is when you'll pay off that balance. The balance, in other words, does not move to your Chase card during the combination. Make sure you make a note of that. (When I originally broke the story that customers would be able to combine and convert WaMu and Chase cards, I said that you couldn't have a balance on at least one of the cards; my sources got that part wrong. As you can see, balances don't matter.)
These are the effects of the closure of your old WaMu card: the card will report as "closed at consumer's request" on your credit report. The closed card will continue to age for another 10 years or so. Eventually, though, the card's history will fall away from your credit history. Your utilization will be unaffected by this combination because your old WaMu limit will be sitting on your Chase card -- with the exception of that sliver that you left behind. Chase does NOT pull your credit report to do the combination.
As for credit-card conversions, the process is very simple. Call Chase and tell them that you would like to take your old WaMu card and convert it into the Chase card of your choice. Generally, there should not be a problem doing the conversion. But do note that some cards aren't eligible to be converted into other cards. For example, if you're trying to convert your old WaMu card into a Chase Freedom Signature card, you likely won't be able to do that. However, if you want to convert into a Chase Freedom card (not the Signature version), you'll have no problem. I am told that conversions will NOT require a hard inquiry.
Here is the effect of your conversion: your card history will be retained. If you've had that old WaMu card since 2006, your newly-converted card will retain that 2006 opening. Your card won't lose any history during the conversion.
As for online access, Chase will slowly be making card access available throughout today. Be patient. If you already have a Chase account, you'll see your old WaMu card eventually flow into your online account at Chase. If you don't have a Chase relationship -- and you only have the WaMu card (which is now a Chase card) -- your access should be available some time today.
And P.S. to one of my readers -- who was adamant that Chase would not allow for credit-limit combinations (link here): you win some and you lose some. My sources, which have been fabulous through this entire Chase/WaMu merger of card operations, nailed this part of the story too.
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