Citibank recently closed what a spokesman called a "limited number" of MasterCard gas cards co-branded with Citgo, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Shell.
"People go to make a purchase, and they find out about these huge changes only when they're denied," Frank said. "It's a shock, and it's been happening a lot."
Even cardholders who don't charge anything might find their accounts abruptly closed, Frank said. With credit losses at a record high, companies see inactive cards as a red flag and close the accounts to avoid the worry of future writedowns.
"Usually cardholders have this credit line available for an emergency, for this kind of current economic situation," Frank said. "But now they're turning to it when they need it, and it's gone."
NEXT: What's a cardholder to do?