Watch out for hidden dangers in your credit card
Credit cards are a valuable tool in todayís society, and have many benefits including improved cash flow and buyer security. However, credit cards have dangers too, and if they are used badly or you are unaware of the potential problems, you could end up paying out a lot of money and getting into debt. Here are some of the hidden dangers of credit cards, and how you can avoid them:
If you make a late payment on any bills at all, it could mean your interest rate and credit limit are affected. Even if your payment history is perfect on your credit card, late payments on other forms of credit or bills can give the credit card company an excuse to charge higher rates. To avoid this, make sure you try and pay all bills on time.
Short grace periods
Many cards used to have grace periods, meaning the period which your transactions donít gather interest, of around 30 days. Now these grace periods are getting smaller, with many companies only offering grace periods of 20 or even no period at all. This means your balance will start accruing interest as soon as you buy something, and so you will still pay interest even if you pay the bill back at the end of the month in full.
Late payment fees
If you are even 1 day late with payment of your bill, then you will incur hefty late fees, which are usually around £20-35. If you pay late more than once or twice then your interest rate can also go up. Make sure that you send payment well in advance so that your payment will always arrive on time.
Another high cost you can occur are over limit fees. If you buy something and you are near the edge of your credit limit, interest payments could push you over your limit. Going even a few pence over your limit will cost you around £20-30. These fees can soon add up. For example, if you are late with payment and the charge puts you over your limit, then you get another charge. If you are late a few times and go over your limit, you could end up spending hundreds of pounds just on fees. Make sure you know the cost of late payment and over-limit fees, and try to stay well under your limit if possible.
Mandatory arbitration is one thing you should look out for when you sign a credit card agreement. This clause means that if anything goes wrong and you feel the card company has acted badly, you cannot take them to court. By signing the agreement you have agreed that all matters will be settled by arbitration. This gives credit card companies the chance to act badly and not have to go to court over it. If this clause is included, make sure you think about the consequences of signing.
Although there are hidden dangers, if you are aware of them and use your card wisely then you will not incur hefty charges and will find your card extremely useful.
About the Author: Peter Kenny is a writer for creditcards-gb
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