The Dark Facts about Credit Card Offers

That shinning gold credit card offer that comes in the mail sure sounds like a good deal. But there are some important questions you should ask:

1) Is there a membership fee, and how much is it? Do you have to sign up for more than one year?

2) Does the introductory interest rate change in a few months, and how high will the rate go?

3) How much is the late fee charge? If you are late on a payment will the interest rate skyrocket? Credit card companies make Billions of Dollars a year on late fees and increased rates because you were late.

4) How many credit cards do you now have? If you have more than two it can hurt your credit standing.

The best way to get lower credit card rates and terms is to negotiate with the card company. Tell them if you don’t get a low interest rate equal to other low rates like 9.9%, you will not do business with them. Also check out credit cards issued by credit unions or banks, they usually have better rates. Remember it is your money, so make them play by your rules or do business with another company. Right now, (June 2002) the best credit card rate appears to be Capital One, with a rate of 9.9%. Now, if you have bad credit you will not get a low rate.

Filed June 2002.