Oprah's Debt Diet Step 3: Learn to Play the Credit Card Game
Late Fees: We've all been late on a credit card bill before. But today it's big business. Late fees range from $15 to as high as $39. And on top of that most credit card companies will up your interest rate on top of the late fee. It's reported that nearly a third of the credit card business revenue today comes from late fees. What many people don't know is that most credit card companies will waive your late fees, if you call and ask them to do so. If you know you may be late on a bill, call in advance and ask for a grace period. Ask the person you speak with to "document" your record, so you have proof you called in advance of the bill being late. If you really are late, call and ask if they can give you a break and waive your late fee. No matter what, make sure you ask for the customer service representative's name as well as their badge number or ID number so you can document your own proof of the call.
Teaser Offers: As mentioned earlier there are droves of credit card companies now offering "zero percent" credit cards. Many are offering zero percent for six months, twelve months, and twenty-four months. Some will offer zero percent on all debt that you move or consolidate to them. The secret is to read the "fine print". All of these offers have to legally share what the "catch" is. The catch on most of these offers is that if you are late just one time the interest rate can jump as high as 20 percent. If you're late two times it may jump up to 29 percent. So read the fine print closely. Also many of these offers charge you a "transfer fee" for debt that is moved (usually ranging from 1 percent to 3 percent with a variable maximum) of the amount transferred.
Annual Fees: Credit card annual fees can range from nothing to as high as $2500. Most credit card companies' annual fees range from $35 to $100 annually. Depending on the card, you may be able to get these fees waived, by simply calling and asking. Typically cards with frequent flyer programs or rebate offers won't waive the fees. Regular cards with no special offers often will waive the fees (especially if you're a customer in good standing).