Five Finer Points that You Need to Double Check in a Credit Card

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

There are a few finer things that you need to double check in a credit card before you start using it. Ideally you shouldn’t apply for every credit card that comes your way as rejections will negatively affect your credit score. But even when you are eligible for a credit card, there are some important things that you need to be aware of. Neglecting precautions could only lead you into a trap such as an ever growing credit card debt that is hard to pay off.

Be careful about variable interest rates

Not all credit cards come with a fixed interest rate. In case of some credit cards, the interest varies. It is usually lower for the introductory period after which it goes up. It is important to be double sure about the starting and final APR. If the final APR is quite steep it is best to avoid the credit card. Higher interest rate means that you would be paying much higher interests once you have an outstanding credit card balance. You must also note that a credit card issuer can hike your interest rate only after informing you in notice. You can then choose to pay off your remaining balance and close your account if you are not willing to accept the higher APR on the credit card.

Check the annual fees

In case of customers with good credit scores, the annual fee on the credit card tends to be waived off by the card issuer. However, it is not advisable to blindly assume it. Instead you need to make sure there is indeed no annual fee on the credit card. If there is, you might end up adding an extra amount to your outstanding balance, which is worth avoiding.

Other types of fees

Credit cards vary from each other in terms of the different types of fees levied on the customer. Good card issuers usually give a lot of benefits to customers. For example, some cards have no cash advance fee for using the credit card at ATMs while some cards will charge you for the same. The percentage charged for currency conversion when you use your credit card in foreign countries varies from one card issuer to another. If you are transferring your entire balance to another card, there might be a balance transfer fee that you will have to pay. Lower the fee, better the card and hence you need to check the fine print well.

Credit card offers

Credit card offers are rarely what they seem to be which is why you must look at the fine print with great care. For example, there are cards that offer reward points, but apply a cap on the number of points you can redeem in a month or a year. Similarly, there are cards offering air miles but it could end up being difficult trying to redeem them on discounts on air tickets.

Promotional offers

When credit cards offer introductory rates during promotional periods, you need to check fine print as the exact rates and periods depend on the individuals’ credit scores.

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