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Get Your Credit Cards Under Control

Beware of Credit Card Fees

The credit card reform legislation that was intended to protect consumers has resulted in new fees as some issuers pass the cost of implementing the law on to you.

Here are a few fees to look for:

  • Annual Fees: Some credit card issuers have implemented new fees while others have retreated after consumers responded negatively. Use online resources-several of which are listed below-to check for added fees.

  • Inactivity Fees: if you don't use your cards, expect an annual charge of as much as $19 as credit card issuers pass on record-keeping costs.

  • Fixed to Variable Rates: under current law it is more difficult for credit card issuers to switch the interest rate they charge from a fixed to variable rate. As a consequence, you may be offered a (relatively) attractive promotional fixed rate that climbs to 19% after only 6 months.

  • Balance Transfers: before you tranfer balances from a high rate card to that attractive promotional rate, be aware that you may be given less time to pay down the balance (on 0% offers, for example) and that some of the balance transfer offers have no cap on the fee charged for the transfer.

  • Processing Fees: the administrative costs associated with reviewing and approving your application, creating and mailing monthly statements are examples of processing fees that could show up on future statements.

Your Options

You can of course close the account or 'opt out" but doing so may damage your credit score, especially if you've had the card for a long time. First, read the statements that credit card issuers are required to send before implementing new charges. Next, if you are going to close an account, line up new credit beforehand.

To find competitive credit card offers, go to www.lowcards.com or www.bankrate.com. For helpful hints on managing credit cards see www.moneygirl.com.


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