Newport News woman disputes AirTran credit card offer

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by Janet Roach

WVEC.com

Posted on July 28, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:28 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- Darlene Stephenson keeps a close eye on her credit report because she wants to keep her score above 800. One thing she does is stay away from credit cards.

"I purposely don't apply for credit cards because I know how it affects your credit score," Stephenson says.

So, imagine her surprise when she recently received a VISA card in the mail from Airtran Airlines.

"I am furious," she says.

 Stephenson says she never applied for a credit card. She just took Airtran up on its offer to sign up for their frequent flier program when representatives at the Atlanta airport approached her, touting an offer for one free flight for every four you purchase.

"I'm thinking, this is a good deal. It's better than what I have already," explains Stephenson.

The application Stephenson says she filled out asked for a name, birthdate, address, email and phone number. An Airtran rep at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport verifies that application is only for frequent flier credits, not for a credit card. 

The credit card application is much more detailed. It asks for an applicant's income, social security number and other personal information Darlene says she never had to reveal.

"My name is already at the credit bureau that I applied for this credit card and that I have X amount of dollars I can use on this credit," Stephenson says.

Luanne Gallagher is the Program Director for Financial and Housing for Catholic Charities. She says Stephenson shouldn't worry too much about her credit score but admits it could take a minor hit because of the new card.

"Certainly having this will change some of her ratios," says Gallagher.

She adds that the card could help Stephenson by bringing down her credit utilization.   For example, Gallagher says, if Stephenson has $3000 of available credit and used $1000 of it, then her utlization is about 33 percent.  If her overall credit limit increases to $4000 and she still uses a thousand of it, then her utilization goes down to 25 percent.

The bank that issued the card, Barclay Bank, told Stephenson there's nothing they can do. The card is now hers.

An Airtran spokesperson says the application wasn't misleading and representatives at the Atlanta airport were only giving out applications for credit cards.

Stephenson is adamant the credit card application is not what she filled out.

"I actully felt violated. I'm still furious. I can't explain to you how i feel," says Stephenson.

Airtran promised to provide 13News a copy of the type of application Stephenson filled out but so far has failed to do so.

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