Credit card terminology these days has become rather complicated and credit card users should understand some of the key terms that are used, and exactly how they influence the charges associated with the cards use. Incentive programs, interest rates, compounding methods all combine to make the use of a credit card a potentially costly experience.
The first term that is very important when it comes to credit cards is “Annual Fee”. Some credit card companies charge more then just interest. Some card companies charge a fee, paid annually to the card holder just for the privilege of having the card. This charge is applied to the card, even if the card is not used. This fee may rage any where from $5.00 to $300.00 and is usually only found on credit cards that are tailored to the very high end market.
Another common term used by the credit card companies is “Introductory rate” or “Intro rate”. This term will be found on credit cards that are offering discounted interest rates as an incentive to the buyer to accept on of these cards. Usually this rate is substantially below the regular interest rate charged by the credit card company. Often this rate is valid for a limited time period and once it expires the regular rate applies. Those considering this type of credit card should be very sure that they are aware of what the actual rate on the credit card will be after the offer’s expiry date. It is quite common for people to get trapped by running up a credit card on a large purchase thinking they will pay it off in a short period of time, and then get quite a surprise once the interest rate jumps back to the normally charged rate.
Many credit card companies encourage users to transfer the charges off their existing credit cards onto those of the new card. Usually this is offered or encouraged when the credit card has a low introductory interest rate. The credit card holder should be very careful and read the fine print to make sure they are not going to be charged a fee for this privilege. Often credit card companies have a “Balance transfer fee” that they charge to their customers when ever they consolidate the balances of all their other cards. This fee is often more money then would be saved by taking advantage of the lower interest rate.
Credit cards are a wonderful and convenient financial tool when they are used wisely. Making sure that the card holder has a complete understanding of the card, will guarantee this financial tool is used properly and the risk of financial hardship will be reduced.