Login To Your Account


Financial Freedom Community

This site is a resource for Financial Education, Debt Solutions and Tools to assist with Credit Management. All the resources on this site are free of charge. We encourage visitor feedback, Tell us what you want to see more of! Sign up for news & updates and we'll keep you posted on the latest!


Consumer Personal Loans
Credit Card Debt
Advantages of Making Credit Card Debt Payments on Time and Other Tips
Avoiding Credit Card Traps
Credit Card Counseling – Learn Credit Management Tips
Credit Card Debt and Simple Ways to Consolidate Them
Credit Card Debt Consolidation Nationwide Epidemic
Credit Card Debt Consolidation Solutions
Credit Card Debt Help for Senior Citizens
Credit Card Debt Reduction
Credit Card Debt Solutions That Can Help
How to Pay Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt
Paying Off Your Holiday Credit Card Debt
Prevent Identity Theft With a Credit Freeze
Saving Money on Your Credit Card Bills
Terminate Credit Card Debt Without Consolidation
Tips on Credit Cards, Part 1
Credit Collection Laws
Credit Repair Organizations Act
Fair And Accurate Credit Transaction Act
Fair Credit Billing
Fair Debt Collection Practices – Know Your Law
Statute of Limitations
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
The Truth In Lending Act
Credit Counseling
Can Consumer Credit Counseling Help Avoid Foreclosure
Credit Card Counseling
Credit Counseling a Must for Bankruptcy
Credit Counseling Benefits
Credit Counseling Can Reduce Your Debt
Difference Between Credit Counseling and Debt Settlement
Free Credit Counseling to Help Manage Your Debt
Using Credit and Debt Counseling to Manage Your Finances
What Can Credit Counseling Offer You?
What is Credit Counseling
What to Ask a Credit Counselor?
Credit Education
Consumer's Rights
Establishing New Credit
Finance Charges
Credit Reports and Scores
Credit Repair After Bankruptcy
Do you Know the Benefits of Checking your Credit Report?
Debt Consolidation
4 Valuable Tips on Debt Consolidation
Become Debt Free With Financial Advice
Benefits of Debt Consolidation
Bill Consolidation Loans
Bill Consolidation Advice to Help With Debt
Credit Consolidation: Is It Worth Taking?
Debt consolidation and Ways to Avoid Scams
Debt Consolidation Explained - What Happens if You Don't Pay?
Debt Consolidation Loans
Debt Consolidation Loans for Payday Loan Debt
Debt Consolidation Non-Profit
Debt Consolidation Now Will Improve Your Credit Score Later
Debt Consolidation Provides Relief from Financial Stress
Debt Consolidation Services Helps to Clear Debts
Debt Consolidation – Find Relief To Your Financial Stress
Debt Management Program
Debt Management Program Will Ease Debt Burden
Do You Need Debt Consolidation?
Get a Debt Consolidation Loan to Manage Bad Debts
Government Debt Consolidation Loans
Government Debt Consolidation Loans for Student Loans
How to Consolidate – Debt Help – Consolidate Your Debt Payments
How to Consolidate Bills Effectively When Left in Debt
How to Consolidate Debt
Let the government help you consolidate your debts
The Advantages of Credit Consolidation
Understanding Debt Consolidation Loans
Debt Settlement
Elderly Can Benefit from Debt Settlement
Financial Tools & Calculators
Bill Reminder Tool
Bill Reminder User Guide
Car Loan Calculator
College Savings Calculator
Credit Card Payoff Calculator
Mortgage Loan Payment Calculator
Retirement Calculator
Savings Calculator
Loan Modification Guide – Do It Yourself
Frequently Asked Questions
Step 1: Prepare yourself
Step 2 Gather the necessary documents
Step 3 Know what to expect
Step 4 Contact your lender
Step 5 Review your loan-modification plan
Step 6 Finalize the approval and begin making payments
Home Buying
Build or Buy a Home
Choosing a Real Estate Agent
Home Equity Interest Rate Charges
Home Equity Line of Credit
Home Equity Loan Fees
Managing Your Mortgage
Mortgage Basics
Mortgage Debt Elimination, 3 Things You Must Know
Real Estate Laws
Renting vs Owning
Interesting Money Articles
12 Amazing Facts about Credit Card Debt
12 More Interesting Facts About Money – Part 2
24 Amazing Pictures of Money
Introduction To Budgeting
7 Steps to Successful Budgeting
All You Need to Know About Budget Basics
Basics of Personal Budgeting
Budgeting – How Much?
Debt Management and Prevention Using a Budget
How to Pay Off Debt – Start Budgeting
Maintaining and Budget Planning
Manage Your Debt by Learning How to Budget
The Basics of Budgeting
Transcript – The Basics Of Budgeting
The Importance of a Household Budget
Managing Debt
Debt Relief The Issue of Forgiveness
Get Out of Debt by Changing Your Financial Habits
Personal Finance Management to Reduce Debt
Start Early Teaching Kids Money Management and Savings
Saving Money
Banking & Credit
How 'Charge Offs' Effect You
Insurance & Housing
Money Management Means Setting Goals
Save Money When going to work
Transportation Savings
Utilities and Savings
What Debt Should You Pay First?
Young Couple Finances
Student Loan Debt
Student Loan Default Penalties
Consolidate Student Loans
Student Loans and the Credit Squeeze
Types Of Debts
Auto Loan Prepayment Penalties
Balance Transfers
Credit Card Minimum Payments
Gambling Debt Problem Gambling and Bankruptcy Connection
Holiday Credit Card Debt
Ideas To Save
Inherited Debts?
Six Easily Avoidable Causes of Debt
Ways to Pay Off Holiday Debts
Video Library
Personal Finance Video library
Tax Tips Video library

Free Consultation

McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

Latest Headlines

Latest Infographics

Most Popular Articles

Avoiding Credit Card Traps


by Gary Foreman

We were offered a one-year 2.99% interest rate on an existing Visa account that we didn’t use very much. We wanted to use the card to make a very large purchase with the intent of paying it off within one year.

Luckily we checked the “fine print”. The original purchase will be at 2.99%. But any subsequent purchases on that card will be charged interest at 15.99%. There’s a huge red flag – the original “loan” must be paid off before any payments will be credited to the new purchases that are made. So what we pay every month goes toward the 2.99% charge and, for example, the airline tickets I later purchased with this card will continue to accrue 15.99% interest charges until I pay off the original purchase sometime next year.

I said we’re lucky because we understand the rules and have put the card away until it’s paid off. I shudder to think how many people don’t catch this little quirk. SB, Virginia

SB is right. Many people are being tripped up by the fine print in credit card agreements. She’s fortunate to have caught on before charging up a bunch of stuff at a pretty stiff interest rate.

Credit cards have come a long way. A generation ago there was a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Today, you can choose cards based on their fee structure, interest rates, cash advance provisions or even the rebate offered. But, with all those choices comes the responsibility to know what the credit agreement says.

The agreement will specify what the card issuer can do with the account. The language isn’t always easy to understand. If you have trouble figuring out what something means, call the card issuer and ask for an explanation. Don’t use the card until your question is answered.

All that fine print is actually a blessing in disguise. It will tell you how the card issuer intends to take your money. All you have to do is to read and understand the credit agreement. There’s no reason to get caught. Most of the traps can be avoided if you know where they are. Be careful of zero or low rate offers. Low initial rates typically are only for a limited amount and a short time period. The agreement will explain which purchases or balance transfers are eligible for the low rate. It will also say what you’ll be charged for other non-eligible purchases. That’s the trap SB uncovered.

You might also find that cash advances and balance transfers carry a different, higher interest rate than other purchases.

You would expect that variable rate accounts would have changing interest rates. But, even so-called ‘fixed’ rates can be changed. They’re only fixed for 15 days.

When you get the card in the mail don’t assume that you’re approved ‘up to $5,000’ as advertised and that your credit limit is $5,000. Depending on your credit score, you could be approved for something considerably lower.

Understand what happens when your account goes ‘over limit’. Don’t assume that they’ll automatically refuse to accept a purchase that puts you over limit. Most will actually let you go over limit, but then penalize you with fees and higher interest rates!

Another trick is to send you a card that’s different than the one that you applied for. You could be turned down for the card with the low-rate balance transfer but issued one without that special feature. If you use the card you will be accepting the terms on the agreement that came with it. Even if they’re different from the one that you first applied for.

You’ll find other little tricks in the fine print. For instance, it’s common for the ‘grace period’ to expire early in the morning. You can be pretty sure that the mail delivery will be later in the day. So your payment needs to be there a day early.

Finally, the lender will have a provision in the agreement that allows them to change the agreement. All they have to do is to notify you of the change in writing. That means that you need to read everything that comes from the issuer. Some have been known to send out amendments that look like junk mail. If it comes from your card issuer you need to open and read it.

SB has learned that you can use credit card rules to your advantage, but if you don’t know the rules your almost certain to lose the game.

Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner.

McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams