November 24, 2017

How to Avoid Credit Card Interest, Penalties and Fees

how-to-avoid-credit-card-interestHave you ever opened your credit card statement only to find that despite last month’s payment, your unpaid balance has actually increased because of credit card interest, penalties or fees?

As a practicing consumer bankruptcy attorney in Atlanta, Georgia for over 25 years, I know that out of control credit card debt can force people in to Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In many cases credit card debt that was manageable becomes unmanageable because of common mistakes made by individuals in how they handle their credit card debt.

If you can avoid these mistakes you may be able to avoid the stress and financial distress caused by excessive credit card debt.

How Credit Card Debt and Credit Card Interest can Get Out of Control

The first step towards controlling your credit card debt involves your spending. This may seem obvious but many of my bankruptcy clients fail to recognize this reality. If you find yourself carrying a balance (rather than paying off your debt in full at the end of the month) you need o change your usage habits.  If you carry a balance you will end up paying unnecessary and expensive credit card interest.

Your credit card is not a substitute for cash – instead your credit cards represent a high interest loan with a 20 days repayment term. Interest on unpaid balances will eat you alive. Most cards obligate you to pay an 18 to 20% annual interest rate on balances carried more than 20 days. To give you some perspective, your interest rate on mortgage debt will end up in the 3 to 4% per year range, and the annual percentage rate on your car note will generally be 5 to 6% per year.

As a rule, if you make only the minimum payment, your balance will stay the same, or actually increase month to month indefinitely. And if you are 1 day late, you will likely get hit with a penalty (often $35 or more) plus your interest rate may be increased to 28% or higher. [Read more…]

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