Saturday, July 18, 2009

Watch Your Credit Card Bills!

Folks, you ought to be doing this already, but if you don't, start reviewing all of your credit card statements carefully before you pay them. Recent changes in credit limitation laws have spurred the credit card companies to up fees and rates to make up for their lost revenue. Here are three tricks they're pushing right now ...

1) Rates. Most major cards are now using a fixed rate plus prime formula to come up with the APR you are being charged. My Target Visa card has jumped from 13.99% to 19.99% in a month's time. I called and asked why. I was told my credit and payment history was excellent, my new low rate was based upon 13.00% plus 6.99% prime. Thank you for your business, and please don't forget to use your Target Visa wherever you need a Visa Card. And don't forget the cash advances, now at a low rate of 25.99%.

2) Late payments. For those of you who pay via mail, watch for late payment postings. I am convinced that Visa in particular is sitting on payments received in the mail before posting them, for the express purpose of making the payments late. This happened to me four times last year. I had mailed each of the payments at least 10 days before the due date. I'm sorry, it doesn't take the post office more than 10 days to deliver an envelope from Dallas to Las Vegas (payment center). If you are tagged with a late payment, you will be hit with a fee added to your account (typically $39.00), plus a hike in your interest rate.

3) Cards are going to start charging interest from the moment you purchase something, not at the end of the billing cycle. So, even if you pay off your bill in total each month, you are still paying interest charges.

Now, if you get mad about this, or you're victimized by these vultures, don't cancel your accounts in a fit of rage. I would suggest paying them off to a zero balance, and leaving the accounts open. Closing them will have a negative impact on your credit score.

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