Have you ever read the full terms and conditions about owning your credit card? Chances are your answer is: No.
I confess that’s my answer too, and that’s after many years of owning various credit cards from different banks and issuers. It may give you some small comfort to know that almost all credit cardholders share your answer (and mine).
Until you get around to reading the conditions that came with your credit card, there are five things you need to know, which can help you save some money too.
#1 True or False: If you ask nicely, they will waive your annual fee.
This is false. It’s not how you ask that matters. Credit card companies as a rule need to collect that annual fee to cover their operational cost. When they waive it, that should make you suspicious because it means they are earning it from you through other means. Every time you ask, your credit card issuer will review your account and decide if you are a customer they want to keep (so they will waive it), or one they can let go. Then you have to do this all over again next year.
If you really do not want to pay annual fees, consider applying for a card that offers free waiver for life. There are now many options, and the condition is you have to meet a certain amount for annual spending. If that’s within your usual spend range, this can be a good deal for you.
#2 True or False: All credit card rewards are more or less the same.
This is also false. Don’t be tricked by a high conversion rate, meaning you can earn 1 reward for every 10 spent on one card versus P30 needed on another card. There are two other things you need to consider. One, do the rewards points expire? The best are evergreen points that stay in your account as long as your credit card is active. This will give you time to “save up” for the reward you want. Two, what do you get with the points? Maybe you earn more points with one credit card, but they have a high redemption value for the reward you are after.
Check out my previous story on flying business class for free using rewards points for more tips.
#3 True or False: Your credit card allows you to buy now and pay later at zero interest.
It’s true that your credit card gives you interest-free credit but only if you paid your outstanding balance in full. If you are a revolver, or only pay the minimum amount due, even if you signed up for a zero interest instalment plan, you will be paying interest for that purchase plus the balance from last month that you left unpaid. So before you take on more instalment schemes, make sure you know if zero interest really means zero interest.
#4 True or False: To ensure good credit history, it’s okay to just pay the minimum amount due.
Again, this is true, but imagine how many years it will take for you to pay off your outstanding balance if you only settle the minimum amount due, and worse, if you continue to use your credit card. So yes, your credit history will be positive but your wallet will be in the negative in the long run. The best rule to follow when it comes to credit cards: always pay your balance in full and on time to avoid interest, penalties, and fees.
#5 True or False: You can always ask for a credit line increase when needed.
Yes you can ask, but there is no guarantee your issuer will say yes. While some award automatic credit line increases based on your credit card use and good payment record, others require that you apply if you want a higher credit line. They may also ask for additional information such as other credit cards you own, updated salary information and latest tax return. And even after all that, they can turn you down. So if you are banking on your credit card to get you out of a tight spot urgently with a higher credit line, sorry but you may need a Plan B.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.