Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Credit Card Debt: Money Saving Tips for Consumers

Are you carrying a monthly balance on your credit card? Do you know the interest rate? Are you tired paying fees that add to your balance? Consider the following ways in which you might be able to pay off that debt faster and more economically:

  • Pay your bill on time and in full, if possible, to avoid paying finance charges on the unpaid balance. 
  • If you cannot pay off the entire card balance, consider paying more than just the monthly minimum in order to reduce the amount of time and cost it will take to pay off your charges. 
  • Consider switching to a credit card with a lower annual percentage rate (APR). There are several websites where you can find free information on different rates and terms such as www.cardlocator.com and www.bankrate.com.
  • Ask your credit card company to lower your interest rate. If you?re a customer in good standing, many companies will switch your rate to keep you. If the company says no shop around and compare other card issuers? rates. 
  • If you?re paying an annual fee for the card you have, you may save money by switching to a no-fee card. If you have several credit cards, you may wish to consider cutting back to one or two cards to save money. 
  • Are you being charged late or overlimit fees? Remember to always send your payments allowing enough time for delivery by the due date. Going over your limit or making late payments may damage your credit rating and make it hard to finance a car, buy a home or even get a job. If you are questioning a late fee on your statement or believe that your payment should have arrived in time to be processed, promptly contact the company or file a complaint with our office. 
  • If you are being charged an overlimit fee, double-check the charges to see what caused you to go over your limit. You should always save your receipts and compare them with your monthly bill. If you question any charges promptly contact the company to dispute the charge. Understanding Your Right to Challenge Your Credit Card Bill.

Some other tips to protect your financial security:

  • You should always be cautious about disclosing financial information and account numbers over the phone unless you initiate the call and know you are dealing with a reputable company. 
  • When shopping, carry only the cards you anticipate using to help prevent loss or theft. 
  • Keep an eye on your card after handing it to any merchant and avoid signing a blank charge slip; draw a line through blank spaces on charge slips above the total so the amount cannot be changed. 
  • If you lose your card and it is used without your permission, you can be held responsible for up to $50 per card. If you report a lost card before the card is used, you can't be held responsible for any unauthorized charges. 
  • To minimize your liability for a lost card, you should report the card loss as soon as possible. Some issuers have 24-hour toll-free telephone numbers to accept emergency information. It's a good idea to follow-up with a letter to the issuer - include the account number, the date the card was noticed missing, and the date the loss was reported.