5 facts consumers need to know about their credit card
Have you already read the complete terms and conditions regarding the possession of your credit card? Chances are your answer is: No.
I confess that this is also my answer, and this is after many years of owning various credit cards from different banks and issuers. It may give you a bit of comfort to know that almost every credit card holder shares your answer (and mine).
Until you’ve taken the time to read the terms that came with your credit card, there are five things you should know that can also help you save money.
#1 True or False: If you ask nicely, they’ll waive your annual fee.
It’s wrong. It’s not how you ask that counts. Typically, credit card companies must collect this annual fee to cover their operating costs. When they give it up, it should make you suspicious, because it means they’re earning it from you in other ways. Each time you ask, your credit card issuer will review your account and decide if you are a customer they want to keep (so they will give up) or a customer they can drop. Then you will have to start all over again next year.
If you really don’t want to pay an annual fee, consider applying for a card that offers a lifetime free waiver. Now there are many options, and the condition is that you must meet a certain amount for annual expenses. If this is within your typical spending range, this may be a good deal for you.
#2 True or False: All credit card rewards are more or less the same.
This is also false. Don’t be fooled by a high conversion rate, which means you can earn 1 reward for every 10 spent on one card versus 30 P needed on another card. There are two other things you need to consider. First, do rewards points expire? The best are evergreen points that stay in your account as long as your credit card is active. This will give you time to “save” for the reward you want. Two, what do you get with the points? Maybe you earn more points with just one credit card, but they have a high cash value for the reward you seek.
Check out my previous story on free business class flying using rewards points for more tips.
#3 True or False: Your credit card allows you to buy now and pay later without interest.
It’s true that your credit card entitles you to interest-free credit, but only if you’ve paid your outstanding balance in full. If you’re a revolver, or only pay the minimum amount due, even if you signed up for a zero-rate installment plan, you’ll pay interest for that purchase plus last month’s balance you left unpaid. So before jumping into other installment programs, make sure you know if zero interest really means zero interest.
#4 True or false: To guarantee a good credit history, it is normal to only pay the minimum amount due.
Again, that’s true, but imagine how many years it will take to pay off your outstanding balance if you only pay the minimum amount due, and worse, if you continue to use your credit card. So yes, your credit history will be positive but your portfolio will be negative in the long run. The best rule to follow when it comes to credit cards: always pay your balance in full and on time to avoid interest, penalties and fees.
#5 True or False: You can always request a line of credit increase if needed.
Yes, you can ask, but there’s no guarantee your issuer will say yes. While some give automatic line of credit increases based on your credit card usage and good payment history, others require you to apply if you want a higher line of credit. They may also ask for additional information such as other credit cards you have, updated salary information, and latest tax return. And even after all that, they may refuse you. So if you’re relying on your credit card to get you out of a tight spot with a higher line of credit, sorry, but you might need a plan B.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ABS-CBN Corp.