Credit cards are quite easy to use, yet quite difficult to understand. I wish I had a dollar for every person who says to me that they have zero percent interest for six months, so there is nothing to worry about.
Most Americans have at least one credit card. Many Americans have over ten cards, when you count in those pesky store cards. However, many Americans have no idea when their interest rate can be raised, how much interest can be charges and why their rates are increased.
It is easy to see that interest rate and assume that if you make all of your payments on time, it won't change. That simply isn't true. The Universal Default Clause makes sure that it can. The credit card issuer can raise your interest rate automatically if you are late on a payment anywhere, from another credit card to your phone bill. They can even raise your interest rate if your debt-to-income ratio goes up - in other words - you charge more. This is standard and the reason the credit card company checks your credit report regularly.
Most people are surprised to find out that there is no limit to the amounts charged for late payment fees and penalties. The credit card companies make a lot of money on fees and penalties. They actually want you to be late on a payment. That is why many have hidden due times in their agreements. Your payment may be due on the 25th, but did you know that it is due at 9 a. m. The mail may not come in at the company until 1 p. m. If it arrives that day, it is late. And don't believe that the postmark makes any different. It is when they receive it, not when you send it.
So many people never read the credit card agreement. It is essential. Tucked into the fine print is a clause that gives the company the right ot change your interest rate for any reason as long as you have a 15 day notice.
There is no federal limit on the amount of interest you are charged. States may have a limit, but you can be sure that your card issuer is located in a state with no laws.
Credit card debt will put you at a higher risk for bankruptcy. This is because people in financial difficulty often turn to credit cards to maintain their lifestyle. They then have trouble paying off the debt, especially when the interest increases.
The main problem can be that they only pay the monthly minimum. By doing so, it will take years to pay off a credit card bill. You have to make the largest payment you can in order to pay off your debt.
Credit cards are risky business. You have to be careful not to spend more than you can afford. If you find that you cannot pay your balance in full each month, you need to take another look at your spending. Create a budget and a debt management plan and stop using the card. Remember, credit cards were created to make someone money, and it isn't you.
Martin Lukac represents http://www.RateEmpire.com and http://www.1AmericanFinancial.com , a finance web-company specializing in real estate and mortgage rates. We specialize in daily updates, mortgage news, rate predictions, mortgage rates and more. Find low home loan mortgage interest rates from hundreds of mortgage companies!