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Avoiding credit card fees

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According to several consumer groups, credit cards fees cost a typical American household between $50 and $300 a year. Of course, there are several families that do not pay credit card fees at all. These are some of the most common credit card fees, and how to avoid them.

Annual Fees

There are so many cards on the market today without annual fees that it rarely makes sense to pay one. If you’re being charged an annual fee, look for cards with similar benefits and determine if you’ll be better off switching. Even if you like the terms of your current card better, sometimes just threatening to switch to another bank can cause a credit card company to waive the annual fee.

Late Fees

Everyone makes a mistake from time to time, and forgetting to pay your credit card bill is a common one. With fees averaging $26 per offence, though, it can be a very expensive mistake. Fortunately, there is a way to avoid paying this fee.

By setting up automatic bill pay for each credit card in your wallet, you can avoid paying a late fee. Because the money will be taken automatically, set the amount for the minimum payment due. If your minimum payment fluctuates frequently, set the automatic payment for an amount that would cover the minimum plus a little more each month. When you pay your bill each month, you can either change the amount that is set, or write a check for the amount you wish to pay minus the amount set on your automatic bill pay.

If you forget to pay your bill on time, the automatic payment will make sure that you avoid the minimum fee. If you make your usual payment late, you will only owe interest for the days that your payment was late.

Over the Limit Fees

Recent legislation has made it harder for credit card companies to ding their customers with this fee, but many still find a way around it. To avoid it, try to keep your credit card balances at no more than ninety percent of your total credit limit. This way, if you make a mistake and charge too much, you probably won’t go over your limit.

If you do realize that you have gone over your limit, call your customer service department and ask that your credit limit be raised. Some companies will agree to do this and waive the fee on the hope that they can make more money by extending more credit to you. Of course, you will have to ask that the fee is waived, in addition to getting your credit limit raised.

Credit card companies are constantly changing their terms and adding new fees. Making sure that you review the terms of your credit cards is the best way to avoid paying any extra money to your credit card company.

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