How to minimize or avoid credit card fees.
No one wants to use their hard-earned money to pay credit card fees. But with a little know-how, you can help keep fees and interest charges to a minimum.
Minimize interest charges.
A credit card is a loan, so the lower your balance, the less interest you’ll pay. If your card offers a grace period, you can avoid paying interest altogether on purchases by paying your account in full each month. Keep in mind, though, that only purchases typically qualify for a grace period. For bank cash advances, balance transfers, or direct deposit and check cash advances, you’ll have to pay interest from the first day of the transaction. But whatever types of transactions you make, if you can’t pay your balance in full, paying more than the monthly total minimum payment due can reduce your interest costs.
Avoid late payment fees.
It’s easy to avoid late fees by paying on time. Make sure your payment arrives before the due date. Paying late can result in a hefty late fee.
- Check your due date as soon as your statement arrives. It will always fall on the same date each month. If you bank online, sign up for an e-mail alert to remind you when your payment is due.
- Mail your payment at least seven business days before the due date.
- Avoid the mail and pay online or even by phone. (Some companies may charge a fee for phone payments if you call after a specified cut-off time, so check with yours first.
- Change your due date to a more convenient time of the month. Just keep in mind, though, that it can take up to a month for this kind of change to take effect so plan ahead.
Managing Credit Tip #11
Did you know that 35% of your FICO score is based on your payment history? So, know your payment due dates and pay your bills on time, every time.
Keep in mind that:
- Fees and interest can put you over your total credit line. This can result in your transaction being declined.
- You can easily check your balance online or by phone. Also, sign up for e-mail alerts that let you know when you’re getting close to your total credit line.
Don’t forget transaction fees.
Transaction fees are usually based on the amount of the transaction. You may not be able to avoid them, but if you understand how they work, you can often pay less.
Here are some basics:
- Balance transfer fees: Transferring balances can be a great way to take advantage of a lower interest rate, but there’s often a fee attached. Consider the fee for your balance transfer before you decide whether the offer is right for you.
- Bank cash advance and direct deposit and check cash advance fees: Most issuers charge a fee for cash transactions, which can be accessed through an ATM, directly from a bank or by using a check. If your issuer has a cap on fees, you could save money by making one large transaction, rather than several small ones. Before completing the cash transaction, factor in the amount of the fee to help you decide if the convenience is worth the cost.
- Cash equivalent fees: “Cash equivalents” are items that can be used as or changed into cash, like money orders, casino gaming chips, foreign currency and wire transfers. If you need to buy them, you’ll have to accept the fee — but be sure to account for the fee amount so you don’t go over your total credit line.
Take action now.
You can’t avoid fees unless you know what your fees are, and when you may have to pay them. Different issuers have different rules so check your credit card agreement, visit your credit card company’s Web site or call customer service to find out about your card’s fees. You should also watch for notices from your issuer about changes to your fees. Know more to save more.
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