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Here's What You Can Do:
- Avoid common credit card traps.
Avoid credit cards with Universal Default clauses, Double-Cycle Billing, and other anti-consumer fees, penalties and surcharges. Read the fine print in agreements before accepting a credit card.
- Check your credit score and credit report often.
Credit card companies under Universal Default clauses are constantly scanning your credit report looking for subtle changes, something, anything to justify an outrageous interest rate hike. If these card companies are watching your credit like a hawk, shouldn't you?
- Dispute innacurate info.
If you discover information in your credit report that you believe to be incorrect, take steps to file an online dispute with the appropriate credit bureau.
- Use credit cards sparingly.
Don't over-apply for credit. This will lower your credit score and lessen your chance of receiving favorable interest rates on everything else you finance.
- Pay more than the monthly minimums.
You won't be popular with the credit card companies because they would prefer you stay on the high-interest, debt-treadmill for the long, tortuous haul, but you can put your hard-earned money to much better use - like saving for emergencies, a child's college education, or a home for your family.
- Pay down, or eliminate your credit card debt entirely.
This will not only take you another step closer to financial freedom, it will also improve your debt to available credit ratio, which can raise your credit score and save you the most money on a home mortgage, or refi, or even insurance rates.
- Check your credit card account statements.
Carefully check for any unauthorized or improper charges, fees, penalties, or surcharges. Also, request lower rates. If you find a discrepancy on your statement, call your credit card company and fight to have the charges reversed. Don't give up. Credit card companies may frustrate, bully, and even threaten you, but in the end, you are the customer, and you can walk. Even be confident in demanding a lower interest rate on certain cards. Particularly, if you have been profitable for them, you may win concessions.
- Carefully compare credit card offers before applying for credit.
Review the terms in Cardholder Agreements very carefully. Once you receive your card, check the fine print carefully. There's a good chance that what you applied is not what you received. Say, "No Thanks."
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