Avoiding Credit Card Pitfalls

by Catherine Rein
(last updated April 24, 2009)

Millions of Americans use their credit cards on a regular basis. If you are one of them, there are many pitfalls that can lead to high fees and high interest rates. The following tips will help you save money when using your credit cards:

  • Avoid Late Fees. You should learn about your credit card's payment rules, including where to send payment and when payment is due. Be sure to allow enough time for your payment to be processed. You should mail your payment at least one week in advance of the due date, ten to fourteen days is better. If you do miss a payment date and receive a late fee, call and ask for forgiveness. Customers with good payment records often have these late fees waived.
  • Reset Your Payment Date. If your current payment date comes at a bad time of the month, early in the month for example, you can ask the issuer to move the date to later in the month when cash might be more readily available.
  • Pay Online. You should consider paying your credit card bill online. This speeds the time for payments to be processed. You can even set up your bank account for automatic payment. Even if you only send the minimum payment, this will avoid getting hit with a high late fee.
  • Lower Your Interest Rate. Be sure to shop around for the best interest rate and be careful of teaser rates. These are rates that start low but go up quickly after you've used the card a short time. You should be careful to make payments on time. A bank can increase your interest rate due to late payments or if you charge more than the credit card limit.
  • Avoid Too Many Credit Cards. Having too many credit cards can be detrimental for many reasons. It can lower your credit score and signal to lenders that you could exceed your financial limits very quickly. With too many credit cards you are more likely to become a victim of identity theft or fraud. It is harder to monitor multiple credit cards. Two credit cards is an ideal number, it reduces the risk of having too many and gives a back up in case the primary card can't be used for whatever reason.

Credit card fees can quickly add up. You can avoid fees and higher interest rates by making the right choices and limiting the number of credit cards you use.

Author Bio

Catherine Rein

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