Federal law provides specific rules that the card issuer must follow for promptly correcting billing errors. The card issuer will give you a statement describing these rules when you open the credit card account and, after that, at least once a year. In fact, many card issuers print a summary of your rights on each bill they send you.
Shopping Around for the Right Card
When shopping for a credit card, you probably will want to look at other factors besides costs- such as whether the credit limit is high enough to meet your needs, how widely the card is accepted, and what services and features are available under the plan. You may be interested, for example, in "affinity cards" -- all-purpose credit cards that are sponsored by professional organizations, college alumni associations, and some members of the travel industry. Frequently, an affinity card issuer donates a portion of the annual fees or transaction charges to the sponsoring organization, or allows you to qualify for free travel or other bonuses.
What is "Grace Period"?
A free period -- also called a "grace period" -- allows you to avoid the finance charge by paying your current balance in full before the "due date" shown on your statement. Knowing whether a credit card plan gives you a free period is especially important if you plan to pay your account in full each month. If there is no free period, the card issuer will impose a finance charge from the date you use your credit card or from the date each credit card transaction is posted to your account. If your credit card plan allows a free period, the card issuer must mail your bill at least 14 days before your payment is due. This is to ensure that you have enough time to make your payment by the due date.
Pay by Phone
If you are in doubt whether your payment will arrive on time, you may call your credit card issuer and make a payment by phone. It may cost you anywhere from $5 to $30, but you will avoid paying a much more costly late fee. To make a payment by phone, all you need to provide is your bank?’s account and routing numbers, printed on the bottom of your check and a check number you wish to use. Remember, however, that you will not be able to use a check, whose number you had used for credit card payment.
Don?’t be Late, Pay the Minimum
Late fees, these days, may take a toll on your financial health. It would be especially unfortunate to pay a late fee if your total credit card bill is less than the amount of late fee. To avoid this situation, consider paying a minimum due on your bill if you do not have enough cash on hand to pay off the whole bill on time.
I would like to re-build my credit. I filed for bankruptcy three years ago. How do I find a lender that will give me reasonable annual fee and interest rate?
Its true: after filing for bankruptcy, credit can be difficult to obtain. And what makes things worse is that your credit score will drop even lower each time a company disapproves your application. That means its doubly important that you apply for a card that youre likely to get rather than risk a turn-down. Youre definitely "at risk" at this time?…a target for unscrupulous lenders with big promises and shady deals. Many lenders will try to entice you with "super-low interest rates for those who filed for bankruptcy." It all sounds good until they come up with some questionable reason why you dont qualify and then try to convince you to sign up for a card with high rates and fees. Beware! Other companies may offer low teaser rates, but then hike the interest after a short period of time. And if you miss a payment -- look out! Some impose outrageous fees for late payments, sticking you with a $25 fine when youre late on a $5 payment. Heres a secret credit card companies dont want you to know: Late fees represent as much as one-third of the income of some credit-card issuers.
Take a good look at your Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
Chances are you have received offers in the mail asking if you would like to open credit card accounts. Frequently, these offers say that you have been "pre-approved" for the card, with a line of credit already set aside for your use. Typically, these offers urge you to accept quickly, "before the offer expires." However, before accepting a credit card offer, understand the cards credit terms and compare costs of similar cards to get the features and terms you want.
How important is the Balance Computation Method for Finance Charges?
If your plan has no free period, or if you expect to pay for purchases over time, it is important to know how the card issuer will calculate your finance charge. This charge will vary depending upon the method the card issuer uses to figure your balance. The method used can make a difference, sometimes a big difference, in how much finance charge you will pay -- even when the APR is identical to that charged by another card issuer and the pattern of purchases and payments is the same.
May I obtain a U.S. issued credit card if I have an excellent credit history in another country?
Yes, you might be able to use your past excellent credit history to obtain a U.S. issued credit card. However, it will take some time and effort on your part. Many people come to the U.S. with a positive credit history. Normally, this credit history is not transferred to the U.S. As a result, when you apply for a credit card the creditor will not see your excellent credit history. They will then deny you credit based on the fact you supposedly have no credit history established. Getting a social security number is the first step you should take. You must have a social security number to get a U.S. issued credit card. Next, contact Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (the three major credit reporting bureaus) to see if they will transfer your excellent credit history from your home country. This usually does not happen, but in some cases it can. For example, TransUnion does transfer Canadian credit histories to the U.S. If you can get your credit history transferred, this will make it much easier for you to get a U.S. issued card. If you find that you cannot get your credit history transferred, you will have to start from scratch and build a new credit history in the U.S. You can look into applying for secured credit cards, bank-issued credit cards and other credit cards that can get you started. These cards may charge fees or high-interest rates, so be sure you understand all the terms before applying. Whenever possible, try to apply by phone. This way you can explain your situation in person and possibly get approved or denied on the phone. If denied, you can apply in writing and state in your letter application that you have an excellent credit history in another country. If possible, include a copy of your credit report with the application. The creditor may then be able to approve you after some investigation. If there has been no response in 30 days, contact the creditor to check on your application.
When should credit card payments be credited?
A card issuer must credit your account on the day the issuer receives your payment, unless the payment is not made according to the creditors requirements or the delay in crediting to your account does not result in a charge. To avoid delays that could result in finance charges, follow the card issuers instructions about where to send payments. Payments sent to other locations could delay getting credit for your payment for up to five days. If you lose your payment envelope, look on the billing statement for the address for payments or call the card issuer.