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In Banking and Credit I said that this article would be "BOMBS AWAY". I'll try to be nice, but you may want to get a little emotion going with Credit Cards - They're Just Like Drugs.

Additionally, for a major eye opener about how we have been duped and what the real costs of "Madison Ave. Manipulation" are, I strongly encourage you to see The Monthly Payment Scam Part 1 and Part 2. Finally, tying last week together with this, the following categorized pages each offer external links which may be of assistance:

But I've got to continuously pinch myself, "Mike, the purpose of this series is not to attack credit cards (uuuggghhh!!) but to find cost saving tricks to develop a 10% Accelerator Margin. The following is a little home-spun savvy.
  • If you're stressed out or depressed, don't buy items to make yourself feel better. Go window shopping or just browse around in your favorite store. But don't carry a credit card (or any money or check for that matter) especially when your depressed.

     

  • Which leads to the next point to reduce your budget in the area of credit cards... Never carry a credit card! I guarantee it is not against the law to be without one and the police will not stop you for "not carrying".

     

  • I can't think of anything worse than charging on a card unless its paying for something you did not charge. If you charge, keep your receipt in one place. Verify that the charges are correct by matching your receipts to the credit card invoice. Too many reports are coming out that we do not verify our invoices and erroneous charges are going undetected.

     

  • Protect not only your cards (sign them immediately, have a picture on it if possible), but the number. Shred trash with the number. Avoid giving your number over the phone or Internet. Insure sales people shred any manual carbons in front of you.

     

  • Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total when you sign.

     

  • If you move, insure you notify credit card companies even if you have no balance. You might have your new card mailed to your old address. Notify credit card companies IMMEDIATELY of a lost or stolen card.
And thanks to Maryland Consumer Protection Division:
  • Don't put your address and phone number on a credit card transaction form. Under Maryland law [and many other states], businesses cannot record or even request this information as a condition of accepting your credit card.
  • If you pay by check, don't allow salesclerks to record your credit card account number. However, they are allowed to see your card and record the type (VISA, Mastercard, etc.) and the name of the issuer.
  • Memorize your PIN number (personal identification number) and don't keep it with your card. Don't select a PIN that someone could easily guess, such as your phone number or name.
  • The details of the credit card contract are usually in small print on the back of the letter offering you the new card. READ IT before you sign. Make sure you fully understand the terms of the credit card being offered. You might be surprised at what you find.
  • If you want to use a new, low-interest rate card to consolidate and pay off your higher interest rate debt, find the card with the longest time period for the low-interest offer. This will allow you enough time to pay off your balance.
  • Credit card companies should disclose how long the "low-interest offer" will last and what the interest rate will be once the low rate ends (usually 3 months). Most of the higher rates are quite high _ typically 9.9 percent above prime, or close to 19 percent.
  • "Pre-Approved"--- Don't count on it. C.C. companies pay an agency for your name. However, if your credit status has changed recently, you may not qualify for the card you've been offered. Once you call to accept the offer or send in the form, the credit card company will seek your full credit report and determine if you qualify.
  • Some cards charge a fee to transfer the balances from other credit cards to your new card. That could eat into anything you might save by having a lower interest rate. This should be explained on the back of the offer.
  • If you paid for your goods or services by credit card, you have rights that you don't have if you paid by check, money order or cash. The federal Fair Credit Billing Act sets up procedures that require creditors to correct mistakes quickly and resolve disputes between consumers and merchants. Your rights are summarized on the back of your credit card statements.

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