Tricks of the Credit Card Trade
Just a few tricks from their legal toolbox illustrate why moneylenders are often considered the most greedy, deceitful buggers on earth.
What comes first, the terms or the application?Of course, the harsh reality is that when you apply for a credit card moneylenders attempt to gauge "how badly they can screw you."
Surprisingly, in most situations, it's the application. Most banks won't show all credit card terms until you've given them specifics about your Social Security number, your address and your income. That's so they can peg the exact rate, terms and conditions to your credit score and credit history.
* * *
"You're being shown a customized offer" is the polite way a spokesman for HSBC Bank phrased it.
That puts you in the position of having to actually put your credit history at risk to apply for a card before you see exactly what card you're going to be approved for.Actually, there's only ONE way to handle this - promptly TEAR UP the offer and either do without whatever you planned to buy or save up and pay cash for it.
There are two ways to handle this. McHenry suggests not applying for cards that don't disclose all of their terms up front, but that's likely to make your list of potential lenders very, very short.
* * *
The alternative is to apply for several cards all at the same time, compare the deals you are offered and then cancel all but the one you like best. That's not likely to hurt your credit score much . . .
What [terms] are they hiding?And of course, lenders forever try to hide from victims their ultimate trade secret, their staple scam, the raison d'être of their despicable trade - collecting OBSCENE amounts of INTEREST over the life of every loan.
- Two-cycle billing. This uses two months of balances to come up with the average daily balance. It can be a big problem for borrowers who only rarely keep balances from one month to the next, because they'll end up paying two months interest for one month's debt.
- Universal default. This means your card company could raise your rates if you're late on somebody else's bill somewhere else. If your credit history profile changes at all, they can view that as a signal to raise your rates.
- Over-limit fees. If you have a $5,000 credit limit and you use your card to buy something that costs $5,010, don't expect the charge to be denied. Instead expect your issuer to charge you a fee of $30 or more.
- Due times, not just dates. Many, if not most, issuers now consider a bill late if it arrives on the due date after a certain time of day -- typically BEFORE the mail is delivered. Then you can get busted for being late, a situation that can jack up your rate to levels over 20 percent and add another $30 or more in fees.
Issuers [a.k.a., lenders] say they could end up spending as much as $57 million to provide customers with customized minimum payment and balance disclosures, but most customers say that's what they want, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.Many will vie for a position among these lowest of low, but few will compare to them. That is because behind every imaginable dirtbag - is a moneylender.
Individualized disclosures . . . would let you know how long you'd have to make those minimum payments before you'd bust your balance to zero, and how much you'd pay in interest in the meantime.
Don't hold your breath waiting for those statements. Go to an online calculator such as the bankrate Web site to get your own answer.