Have you ever run into trouble using your credit card?

Have you ever run into trouble using your credit card?



I worked at a bank for four years in the credit card department. Let me offer some tips to help you stay out of trouble.

Just because you had good credit before, things change. That’s why the bank is regularly doing a soft credit check on you, to keep up with how you roll. It does not matter how long you’ve been with the bank or how many cards you have. Speaking of which, all those cards are a liability. It shows how easily you could be in deep debt.

If you spend money on your credit card, you owe the bank money. Banks do not chase you down. You signed a contract. If you’re late it is reported to the credit bureaus, which stays on your report seven years. If you spend more than your credit limit, the bank may let you slide, but it’s going on your record. Your being nice (or mean) to the agent is not going to get it off your record. Do yourself a favor by keeping your side of the agreement. Have you read the fine print?

Don’t wait till you’re maxed out with half your payment going to interest. Consider paying off your credit card in full every month. If not, the interest can drown you. If you have a huge savings account plus a huge credit card bill, consider using that savings account to pay off the card. Interest paid on your card is higher than the interest received from your savings account.

Sign up for emails or texts to warn you when your card is charged so you’ll be the first to know if you get hacked. Tell the bank right away. Same if your phone gets stolen if it has access to your bank. I hope you have a password on your phone.

If you pay cash at the bank, always keep the receipt until you see it posted on your actual bill. Even if they’ve never made a mistake before, there’s always a first time.

If you use your credit card at another bank for something it can be a cash advance, which means a higher interest rate, plus a fee. Check with the merchant before using your card.

If you have a dispute, put it in writing to keep your rights. Telephoning may be easier but writing it down and mailing or faxing it will avoid mistakes and give you a record of your complaint.

If you stretch yourself too thin, the bank can close your card since you pose too much risk. They will not tell you ahead of time. You simply get a letter saying your card is closed. If you close your card, make sure it has zero balance on it with no late charges. Ask for proof in writing.

Don’t accept third party checks because it can look like fraud and get your checking account closed.

Remember: Read that Fine Print!


The information in this article was originally a speech given by Kristin Tomson at her local Toastmasters club, Timber Talkers.