SIX CREDIT CARD SECRETS BANKS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW
SOURCE: MASSACHUSETTS EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND BUSINESS REGULATION
1. Interest Backdating
Most card issuers charge interest from the day a charge is posted to your account if you don¹t pay in full monthly. But, some charge interest from the date of purchase, days before they have even paid the store on your behalf!
REMEDY: Find another card issuer, or always pay your bill in full by the due date.
2. Two-Cycle Billing
Issuers which use this method of calculating interest, charge two months worth of interest for the first month you failed to pay off your total balance in full. This issue arises only when you switch from paying in full to carrying a balance from month to month.
REMEDY: Switch issuers or always pay your balance in full.
3. The Right To Setoff
If you have money on deposit at a bank, and also have your credit card there, you may have signed an agreement when you opened the deposit account which permits the bank to take those funds if you become delinquent on your credit card.
REMEDY: Bank at separate institutions, or avoid delinquencies.
You may be paying up to $50 a year or more as an annual fee on your credit card. You may also be subject to finance charges of over 18%.
REMEDY: If you are a good customer, the bank may be willing to drop the annual fee, and reduce the interest rate ‹ you only have to ask! Otherwise, you can switch issuers to a lower- priced card.
If you sign up for a credit card with a low "teaser" rate, such as 7.9%, when the low rate period expires, your existing balance will likely be subject to the regular and substantially higher interest rate.
REMEDY: Pay in full before the rate increase or close the account.
6. Shortened Due Dates
Most card issuers offer a 25 day grace period in which to pay for new purchases without incurring finance charges. Some banks have shortened the grace period to 20 days‹but only for customers who pay in full monthly.
REMEDY: Ask to go back to 25 days.
ESTABLISH AAA CREDIT IN 30 DAYS
To work this plan you need at least $400 to begin. You should borrow this from your friends if necessary. Then go to a bank of your choice and deposit the $400 into a regular passbook savings account.
Wait a few days for the account to be posted and return to the bank to ask for a $400 loan - you offer the passbook as collateral. Since the bank is already holding your $400, you go to another bank open a savings account lending you another $400 and they won't even make a credit check. Then, with your borrowed $400, you go to another bank, open a savings account, return a few days later, borrow $400 from that bank using your passbook as collateral.
Then repeat the process at a third bank with your borrowed $400. Wait a few days to go to a fourth bank where you open this time a CHECKING account. Wait a few days and make a payment on each of the other three loans. A week later, make payments again on the three loans, and continue paying each week until you have almost paid off the balance.
A credit investigation at this point will show you with three active bank loans (which are considered hard to get), a checking account, and a paying history for the three bank loans - with you having paid up in advance. Thus, you have AAA credit in as little as 30 days. From here you go on to apply for loans, credit cards, and other items on credit.
THE LURE OF BANKRUPTCY
Here is a true story about bankruptcy, and the advantages it offers. A husband and wife team of practicing psychiatrists, with a joint income of $78,000 per annum, accumulate personal debts totaling $22,000, and also have outstanding a $33,000 mortgage on their comfortable suburban New York home. They are not in arrears, nor even over their heads. They simply seek more discretionary spending power.
Their solution to the problem? They file for bankruptcy and are able to immediately reduce their debt load to a mere 10 cents on the dollar, repayable on an extended schedule in very small amounts. An officer in one of their finance companies notes that they could refinance the mortgage or even sell the house. But you will see in a moment why that was not necessary.
Traditionally, personal bankruptcy has been a desperate last resort for those so deeply in debt and harried by creditors, that there really seemed to be no other solution. The typical profile included low-income, under- educated clerical workers or laborers, or perhaps transient non-homeowners. Common age groups were those who were in their twenties, or those over sixty five years of age.
This is no longer the case. Today's profile includes people with good jobs, even families with two incomes. It is not surprising to find those with six-figure incomes declaring bankruptcy. The process comes no longer out of a dire necessity, but it is now a means by which people can rid themselves of debts that cramp their lifestyle.
The most common applicants for bankruptcy include recent college graduates who file in order to avoid paying back government-guaranteed student loans. Their rationale? They feel society owed them an education.
You will also find older, "keep up with the Jones’s" types filing for bankruptcy. For suburban executives to Wall Street professionals, they are unwilling to live within their means.
The passage of the Federal Bankruptcy Act of 1978 made the whole process much easier. This change significantly liberalized personal filing procedures in the name of consumer rights.
Chapter 7 makes no reference at all to the debtor's income. It permits debtors to clear the slate by turning over all their assets except those specifically exempted to creditors. Among the exemptions: Up to $7,500.00 equity in the debtor's house (15,000 if both file); $4,000.00 in accrued dividends; $1,200.00 in automobile equity; $500.00 in jewelry; $200 per category of household items (including clothing, books, etc.) and more!
Chapter 13 requires that debtors show only a regular income to handle a reasonable three-year pay-back plan. The court's definition of reasonable happens to be as little as 1% to 10%, even when a payment of 50% could easily be managed.