Why are credit cards like automobiles? It’s because they can both be very helpful if used sensibly. An automobile can get you from one place to another quickly and effortlessly so long as you drive prudently. If you don’t you could end up in a serious accident or even in jail. Credit cards are also very convenient but they do come with potential problems just as do automobiles. The old adage forewarned is forearmed is definitely true of credit cards. So here are the nine biggest problems you could have with your credit card and how to handle them.
#1. Your card has a high interest rate
Just do the math and you will see why it’s a problem if your credit card has a high interest rate. The simple fact is that this card will cost you more than one with a lower interest rate. There’s just no reason to have a card with a high interest rate if you have a really good credit score. This is especially true if you’re getting offers from other credit card issuers. If you have good credit and your interest rate is 19% or higher call your credit card company and ask it to lower your interest rate. If it refuses think seriously about transferring the balance on that card to one with a lower interest rate or even a 0% interest balance transfer card.
#2: You find an error or unauthorized charge on your billing statement
It’s practically impossible to turn on the TV these days without hearing about another data breach. The most recent big breach was Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which was hacked putting its millions of members at risk. You need to carefully review your billing statement every month. While you are not responsible for paying one of these charges or billing errors you need to dispute the problem in writing within 60 days of when the statement was mailed to you. It’s really important to report any errors quickly. You can resolve many problems just by calling the credit card issuer but when you write a letter, it ensures your rights will be protected.
#3: A merchant declined your credit card
It can be embarrassing when a merchant declines your credit card. There can be several reasons for this. You could be over your credit limit or your card has expired. Or maybe it’s been canceled. The important thing is to always carry a backup funding source so you can pay for your transaction in the event your credit card is declined. If this happens, there is a phone number on the back of your credit card that you should call to learn why your card was declined. It might be something that could be cleared up very quickly.
One of the biggest problems with credit cards is that it’s easy to forget to make a payment. This can be especially true if you’re going through a major change in life. Your credit won’t be damaged severely if you realize that you did miss that payment before your next due date. It’s possible you could even get your credit card company to waive that late fee – if you haven’t been habitually late. Also, you can prevent any damage to your credit score by making up that payment before it gets 30 days past due. If you have a calendar on your computer or smart phone you should put your due date on it as a recurring event – to help make sure you don’t miss any payments in the future.
#5. The due date on your card doesn’t align with your payday
When your credit card due date doesn’t align with your payday you can find yourself constantly juggling bills to make your payment on time. If this is your problem call your credit card issuer and ask it to change your due date. Keep in mind that your due dates will fall on the same day every month.
#6. You let a relative or friend use your card and he or she isn’t paying
It’s never a good idea to let someone else use your credit card but if you did and that someone isn’t paying, you’re still responsible for the charges – assuming you gave that friend or relative permission to use your card. If a person used that card without your permission you’d have to sue him or her to eliminate your liability and clear your name. You could take that person to small claims court to get back what you are required to pay on his or her behalf. If you don’t want to do this for some reason, you’ll have learned the hard way not to trust someone else with your credit card.
#7. Your credit card will no longer swipe
If you accidentally leave your credit card around some kind of a magnet for a long period of time, it can become de-magnetized. This means the information is erased from that magnetic strip on the back of your credit card and card readers can no longer process your transaction. Some cashiers will process the transaction manually. But ultimately you’ll have to call the credit card company and ask to have a new card sent to you.
#8. You can no longer afford your payments
If you charge up too much on a credit card and discover that you can no longer make the payments the worst thing you can do is to stop making them. If you do this, your account could be sent to a collection agency. What’s better is to first try to trim down your expenses so that you’ll have more room to make your credit card payments. This could mean sacrificing some luxuries for a few months until you get your balance reduced. You could also contact the credit card company and ask it to lower your interest rate or minimum payment. If none of this works you may want to get help from a credit- counseling agency. When you do this, you’ll be assigned a debt counselor who will review your debts and your earnings and help you create a budget that could make it possible for you to make those payments.
#9. The credit card company has made an error on your credit report
Credit card companies can make mistakes just like everyone. If you find inaccurate information on a credit report you can dispute it. All three of the credit bureaus have forms on their websites specifically for this purpose. However, most experts say it’s better to dispute the item in writing. When you do this, the credit bureau will contact the credit card issuer that provided the information you’re disputing and ask that it be verified. If it can’t verify the information or fails to respond within 30 days, the credit bureau is supposed to remove the item from your credit report. If this doesn’t work, you can dispute the item directly with your credit card company. If all this fails, you could complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you can prove that the information on your credit report is inaccurate and the credit bureau contains to report it you could sue the credit bureau.