Friday, October 2, 2015

Know Thy Credit Card

I recently shopped at store where the salesperson offered me 15% off my purchase if I opened a charge account with them. Since it was a large purchase I accepted the offer figuring I could save a few dollars.

The bill arrived mid-month after I had paid all my bills and the due date was the first of the month, before I normally pay bills. The bill got lost among piles of paper. I ended up with a $50 late payment fee and interest charged on my purchase!

I promptly called the company, explained that I was a new customer and requested they change my billing date. They also, as a courtesy to a new customer, removed the late fee. The bill now comes at the end of the month with payment due mid-month along with all my other bills.

Credit cards provide great convenience and must be used wisely.
Here are a few credit card tips:

- Establish the same due date - call each company to adjust your billing cycle. This helps keep you current even if you pay all bills online.

- Keep fewer cards - too many cards may have a negative impact on your credit card score.

- Know your Debt to Credit ratio - if you have several cards and your debt balance is low that will influence your score positively. Low balance is key!

- Be aware of Length of Credit History - when you pay off your debt do not rush to close the account. The length of credit history is a positive towards your credit score. It could earn you lower interest on loans.

- Add up the interest - take each credit card bill for the past six months and add up all the late fees and interest you have paid. That can be a shocker!! What could you have done with all that money?

- Read the fine print - when the credit card company mails Terms and Conditions it's telling you something has changed. Make note of new late fees, interest rate, due dates, penalties, etc.; it could save you lots of money.

Be $ Smart - keep more money in your pocket by staying up to date on the terms of your credit cards.