Credit card companies are literally in the business of making money. While they obviously need customers, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that they're always looking for new ways to wring a little extra money out of their cardholders' hands. Because the tumultuous nature of the global economy since 2008 has directly impacted these companies, many have responded by getting more aggressive and secretive with the policies that help them make money.
Although they’re legally required to tell you about policy changes, since credit card companies can easily bury important information in letters that are so long they’re nearly impossible to read, we’ve put together a list of the top three things you should keep an eye out for with both new and existing credit.
That way, you’ll save on fees and you won’t pay any more than you have to:
Monthly May Not Be Enough
For as long as many people can remember, the way standard credit cards have worked is if you use them for purchases and then pay off the balance of those purchases within a month, you won’t be charged any interest. That system seemed fair to most. People who were on the ball got rewarded by avoiding interest charges, while those who weren’t as prompt gave credit card companies an opportunity to make money.
While this system seemed fair, that doesn’t mean credit card companies were satisfied with it. As a result, some cards have shortened their interest-free window from 30 days to as little as 20. What’s even more alarming is some cards no longer offer any sort of window or grace period. Instead, every purchase that’s made on them begins accumulating interest from day one!
Fixed Rates Aren’t Always Forever
If you get a card with a fixed rate, it’s normal to assume that because it includes “fixed” in its title, your interest rate is going to remain the same for as long as you use the card. But in reality, that’s not how things work. Credit card companies can increase these rates at any time. Additionally, they only have to give a 15 day notice when they do so. That’s why it’s always important to actually read any letter or email you receive from your credit card company.
Cash Advances are Never a Good Deal
One of the biggest mistakes credit cardholders make is using their card at an ATM. Not only do you get hit with a less-than-ideal transaction fee, but they also incur a high APR. Although a cash advance may be your only option in an emergency, try to avoid it if at all possible.
For most people, credit cards have become a staple of modern life. And even though some people simply abuse them, being a responsible consumer is no longer enough to guarantee that you can use a credit card without being penalized by an assortment of fees. In order to steer clear of excessive charges, you also need to be vigilant about watching for any of the secrets we revealed above.
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