Don't Get Caught Out By Changes In Credit Card Terms And Conditions!
From time to time, all credit card holders will receive a booklet through the post, packed with tiny print detailing changes to the card's Terms and Conditions. Much of it will appear to be minor changes to obscure paragraphs written in almost deliberately confusing legalese - in fact, so impenetrable is much of the language that the vast majority of card holders simply ignore it and throw the whole thing away.
Doing this could be a costly mistake though, and a few minutes spent scanning through the T&C changes could save you money. To see why, we need to consider a little background.
Credit Card Profits
As I'm sure we've all heard by now, banks worldwide are losing billions because of the 'credit crunch', poor economic prospects, and rising bad debt. In the UK, the credit industry has also been hit by reductions in charges made for late payments, a change forced through by the Office of Fair Trading, removing millions from the banks' bottom limes. Because of this, most credit card issuers are looking for new ways to squeeze profit from their customers, and they ways they'll be doing this will be outlined in the T&C changes booklet sent out.
Increase in Rates
The most basic changes will be a simple increase in the standard interest rate the card charges on purchases. Also, we can expect to see rises in cash withdrawal fees, increased charges for overseas usage, and other similar costs which aren't made as clear on your statement as the standard rate is.
Changes such as these can lead to your card becoming uncompetitive, and while it's nowadays easy to compare and apply for credit cards online, simple inertia can lead to many people continuing to stick with a substandard card.
Grace Periods and Due Dates
Other changes, though, can actually cost the cardholder money. Firstly, a change in the number of interest free days can catch out those who pay off their balances in full each month - you may find that if you keep to your usual repayment schedule you're now being charged interest where previously you weren't.
Similarly, a change in the due date could lead to those who don't pay by direct debit making a late payment and being charged for it. Combine this with the all-too-common practice of ignoring statements, and this situation could go one for months and cost a hefty sum of cash.
So, as boring as it might seem, it pays to keep track of the changes to your card's terms and conditions, even if it means you have to read through reams of willfully obscure language to do so.
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