Credit Cards: Additional things to think about before getting a new credit card – Preventing trouble

I have another post "Credit Cards: Things to think about before getting a new card…"

But here are four more things to think about – and probably these are the four most important TIPS anyone can offer when obtaining a new credit card.

– Look for the grace period – Credit cards DO NOT HAVE to offer a grace period during which you can pay off credit purchases (paying it in full) without incurring finance charges. Note that cash advances usually don’t ahve a grace period. Without a grace period, finance charges begin accruing immediately and a low rate may actually be higher than it looks.

Under the new CARD Act of 2009, lenders must mail your credit card statement at least twenty-one days before the end of the grace period. Of course, a grace period that is even longer is more beneficial. If you are running very close to the deadline, you might consider paying, at least for that month, over the internet or by phone. Under the new CARD Act, a lender can only charge you for paying by phone if you need the help of a live customer service representative.

-Watch out for bait & switch offers – Some credit card leners will send you an offer advertising a low-interest credit card wtih a high limit. However, nestled in the fine print in the offer is a less attractive, more expensive card if you don’t qualify. The substituted card often has a higher interest rate, more expensive fees, and/or a lower credit limit. If what they send you is not what they advertised to you, send the card back, certified mail, return receipt requested, along with a letter explaining your rejection of the card.

-Review and compare – BEFORE you send back the credit card application make a photocopy of the front and back of the application including the "disclosure boxes". When you receive the credit card, then compare the new disclosures you get with the card to the credit card application disclosures and make sure that they are the same.

-Cancel the credit card if you discover terms you don’t like – You don’t need to keep a credit card if you don’t like the terms. If the lender changes the terms for your card, you have the right under the Credit CARD act to reject the changes and close your account. If you have used the card you need to pay off the blance.

Many thanks to the National Consumer Law Center’s "Guide to Surviving Debt", available at for only about $20.00. You should also consider taking a look at our sister website

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