As the economy continues to struggle, many consumers are turning their complaints to banks and credit card companies. Credit card complaints are becoming more and more common as people find themselves deeper in debt and subject to more fees. As credit card companies undergo overhauls and government-mandated changes, they seem to pile on more fees to keep their high profit margins. Unfortunately, many fees occur at the expense of an unknowing consumer.
Common Hidden Charges
One of the most common reasons for a consumer complaining about credit cards is the appearance of hidden fees. The rate of hidden charges on credit cards has grown rapidly during the last few years. It is estimated that over 35% of consumers have hidden fees on their credit card accounts. Hidden fees are typically charges related to purchases you made or offers you joined. Many consumers feel blindsided by these fees and feel it is a credit card company’s fault for not protecting their information.
One common hidden fee is the phantom charge. This typically involves receiving a bonus product with a purchase you make. This is a “grey charge” that most consumers aren’t prepared for when the credit card statement arrives. Similarly, free-to-paid charges often catch consumers by surprise. When people sign up for something that’s free, they often are agreeing to pay for an extension of the service down the road unless they cancel. Additionally, consumers can also be subject to luxury or service fees for making certain purchases with certain types of cards. There are several other hidden fees as well that catch consumers by surprise, but all of these can be avoided by taking the proper precautions.
The best way to find out if you are subject to hidden fees is to check your credit card statement closely each month. If you don’t understand a charge, call your credit card company immediately and ask for clarification. You can also sometimes contest these fees if you have an account with good standing. The best way to avoid hidden fees is to protect your credit card and be sure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to anytime you make a purchase.
Credit Card Fees and High Interest Rates
Another big source of credit card complaints is rising fees and increasing interest rates. Some credit cards require an annual fee and account holders aren’t always aware of these fees. It’s important to read all the information a credit card company sends about an account to make sure you understand the fees. Many fees are waived if a consumer meets certain requirements, so these account types are often publicized as being free. Consumers also complain when they see their bill grow quickly because of their high interest rates. If you believe your interest rate is too high, consider calling your credit card company and asking them to lower the fee. They are more likely to do this if you pay your account regularly and keep a low balance. The best way to avoid high interest rates is to always pay the balance in full.
Credit card holders also often complain about late fees. Late fees are a great source of profit for credit card companies, but they can almost always be avoided. Be diligent about paying your bill on time. If you do forget and get socked with a late fee, call your credit card company and ask for the fee to be removed. They are more likely to remove a late fee if your late payment is a very rare occurrence.
Of course, one of the best ways to avoid credit card fees is to thoroughly understand your credit card account. If the institution sends you literature with updates to your account information, be sure to read it. Credit card companies are obligated to tell you about any fees that are tied to your account. Unfortunately, many people don’t pay attention to the methods the credit card companies use to report these fees.
Checking Your Credit
Checking your monthly credit card statement closely is one great way to stay on top of fees and keep your credit card payments as low as possible. It’s also very important to perform a credit report check on a regular basis. Consumers often complain about their credit card companies, but they don’t often understand how hidden fees and high interest rates can impact their credit scores. If you are missing payments and suffering under large debt because of high interest rates, your credit score is probably also suffering. With credit cards as a staple in the life of almost every consumer, it’s essential to monitor your credit score to see how your credit cards are affecting your overall credit health.
Today’s consumers often complain about their credit card companies, but most of these complaints can be avoided. If you are careful with your credit card and thoroughly understand what you agreeing to when you make a purchase, you can avoid hidden fees. By reading your account information closely and making your payment in full and on time every month, you can prevent yourself from accumulating fees and heavy debt. Finally, if you monitor your credit score on a regular basis, you can make sure your credit is rock solid and help ensure yourself a strong financial future.