If you want to reduce debt, it’s important to avoid being charged unnecessary fees by your credit card provider.
But that’s where the problem begins. For years, banks and credit card providers have been making vast profits through a variety of extortionate charges and penalty fees.
In 2006 banks in the US raked in almost $28 billion in credit card fees. That’s more than $250 per US household, and it’s a similar story in many countries across the world.
However, in recent months, banks have had to cope with a slower increase in consumer borrowing, increased levels of bad debt and stricter regulations on the level of penalty fees that they can impose upon their customers.
So in order to replace this lost income, the banks have devised a range of sneaky ways to screw extra cash out of their customers.
So here are the most common credit card fees that you’ll experience and how to avoid them.
Number One – Low Usage Fees
Certain credit card providers have recently introduced a no-balance or low usage fee. This means that if you don’t buy much using your credit card or if you pay off your bill in full each month, some card companies will charge you a one off penalty.
Other card companies have introduced monthly or annual fees for users who spend less than a certain amount on their credit card each year.
So what they’re really saying is “Keep spending so that we can make vast profits at your expense through fees and interest. And if you don’t, we’ll make vast profits at your expense through low usage fees.”
Unfortunately, if this fee is charged according to the amount that you spend monthly or annually on your card rather than your outstanding balance, the people that it will hit hardest are those who are trying to get out of debt.
People who have stopped using their credit card so that they can repay their debts, may now be faced with an annual fee or a low usage fee.
There are four ways to avoid this;
1) Route your day to day spending through your credit card so that you can avoid any low usage fees. This is only a valid option if you trust yourself to limit your spending to necessities and repay at least as much as you spend each month.
2) Write to your lender and tell them that if they insist upon charging a low usage or annual fee, you’ll take your business elsewhere. They may waive the fee. This is more likely to happen if you owe them a considerable amount and always make your repayments on time.
3) Move your credit card debt to a provider that doesn’t charge a low usage fee. However, as you’ll see below, the rise in balance transfer fees may make this move counter productive.
4) Consider paying off all your credit card debt with a consolidation loan then get rid of your credit cards.
As always, the best way to guard against any of these fees and charges is to be aware of them. Oh, and reduce your credit card debt as quickly as possible.