Very few of us actually bother to read the fine print in our credit card agreements. But it’s really important to know your rights and responsibilities as a credit card user–especially since our hard-earned money (and even personal privacy!) is involved. Even those enticing promos played up in the sales talk and commercials, may actually have a ‘catch’ or legal loophole so you end up paying more for the ‘bargain’ or ‘disqualifying’ for the promised rewards program. Here are some life tips on how to read the fine print in credit card agreements, just one of the useful articles you’ll read here in 05.com.
Check if they are monitoring your purchases
Credit card companies may actually monitor your purchases to determine if you are a ‘risky’ customer. For example, they may interpret frequent cash advances as a sign that you are in financial trouble. They may even check for habits like buying alcohol or adult online content (or, in layman’s terms, porn). And—if invasion of privacy weren’t bad enough—they may use this information to justify increasing your interest rate.
And here’s the bad news: even if you pay your credit card bills on time, if you miss payments on other bills, the credit card company can also decide to jack up your interest rate. That’s because your history of payments are reflected in your credit reports. Your only protection against this is to know your credit score.
Constantly doublecheck your credit terms
Credit card companies reserve the right to change the terms of agreement at any time. For example, if you signed up because of a lower interest rate, or policies like waiving fees, don’t assume those benefits will last forever. In fact, the credit card company can also suddenly decide to change your due dates and the method of calculating your interest.
That’s why it’s important to read documents even after you sign. Yes, those flyers and letters they send in the mail may actually be important—even if credit card companies try to discourage you from reading them by using miniscule fonts.
Ask about your level of protection against fraud
You are particularly vulnerable if you have a debit card. Banks tend to be less vigilant about unauthorized transactions since they have absolutely no risk—they automatically get paid through your checking account. So read your contract to see the measures they take, or the policies they have, if someone steals your debit card. If it’s not in your contract, call customer service.
Call for a better deal
Not happy with the change in terms? You don’t have to take it sitting down. You can call customer service and negotiate for a better agreement. It won’t hurt to ask, right? It’s best to ask for the supervisor or someone who has the authority to make such a decision. And protect yourself by documenting calls, including the time and the name of the person you spoke to.
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