People like to say that credit card companies are tricky and like to charge hidden costs with credit cards. Often these fees are not hidden but listed in contracts and mailings that most people do not read. The best way to protect yourself from unexpected charges and unfair methods used by some credit card companies is to become as informed as possible on how these companies operate and what to expect.
What should I look for when applying for a new credit card?
The most important thing to know when applying for a new credit card is what the interest rate on the card will be. A good credit card company will tell you what your interest rate will be up front and give you a chance to reject the offer if your do not like the rate. Unfortunately, most companies are not this clear.
Since so many credit cards offer zero percent interest introductory periods to attract new cardholders, many people do not consider what their interest rate will be once the zero interest honeymoon is over. Often these cardholders are blindsided with very high rates that they were not expecting. The cardholder should talk to an agent and discuss the credit card interest rate before accepting a new card.
When choosing a new card, you should also read the terms and conditions to see the list of fees. There is really no reason for anyone to be stuck with a card that has an annual fee since there are so many good credit cards available without one. You should also try to find a card that has a maximum limit on transaction fees. If you plan on making a significant balance transfer with your new card and it does not have a maximum fee amount for balance transfers it can cost you well over $100.
Penalty fees should also be a major concern. Some providers charge outrageous amounts when your credit card payment is late or for going over your credit limit. Always try to find the card with the lowest fees.
What should I look for once I have a new credit card provider?
The most important thing cardholders can do to protect themselves once they have a new credit card is keep the credit card statement and carefully review it each month. Many people just look at the minimum amount do and make their payment without making sure that the charges are right.
Credit card companies make mistakes all the time so the cardholder needs to make sure that the charges on their statement are correct. Many people like to save the receipts for that month’s credit card purchases and compare them to their statement as a way to make sure that there are no mistakes.
Reviewing the monthly statement is also important to make sure there are no unexpected fees. If the credit card provider has instituted a new fee or has charged the cardholder a fee by mistake, it can seriously affect the cardholder’s balance.
It is also very important for the cardholder to review any change-of-terms notices they get in the mail. Most people just throw these away without really going over them and this can be a very costly mistake. If credit card companies want to start charging new fees, they have to let their cardholders know with one of these notices. The company has to inform the cardholder only fifteen days before the new terms take affect so if there is a new fee the cardholder is not willing to accept they do not have much time to discuss it with their provider or find a new credit card.
What other things should I know about dealing with my credit card provider?
Many people are intimidated by their credit card provider and quietly accept certain fees and charges because they think they have to. The higher your credit score, the more clout you have when dealing with your provider.
There are so many banks out there competing for your business that they try to avoid losing credit cardholders. If you are unhappy with your interest rate or a fee, you have been charged call your provider and let them know. If they think you might cancel your account and go to another provider, they will typically do what they can to make you happy so you will stay.
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