More and more credit card companies are moving to requiring a minimum payment of 2% of your total outstanding balance. Consumer Action, a consumer advocacy group out of San Francisco, found that the number of card companies with a 2% minimum payment reached 53%, up from 43% just a year ago.
Some creditors have even gone so far as to call this a “consumer friendly” move claiming it will assist consumers faced with today’s economic woes. In reality, a lower minimum payment causes you to take longer to pay off your debt to the creditor while winding up paying them more money in interest payments.
For example, let’s say you have a credit card debt of $2500.00 @18% annual percentage rate (APR). Your monthly minimum payment based on a 2.5% pay back rate would be $62.50 per month. Oh and by the way, here’s what the credit card company really doesn’t want you to know – it will take you 20 YEARS to pay off your $2500.00 balance paying the minimum monthly due. And you will have paid the credit card company $3,365.51 in interest!
Now lets look at the same example using the rate of 2% minimum monthly payment. Your monthly payment drops to just $50.00 a month. You might be tempted to think “wow, I’ve got an extra $12.50 a month to play with, yippeee!”. Not so fast! That lower minimum payment now means it will take you 34.5 YEARS to pay off your balance of $2500.00 and you’ll wind up paying $6,430.93 in interest!
Consumer Action also reports that many credit card companies are imposing higher late payment fees and “more than a third of card issuers said they will raise existing cardholders’ rates because of poor credit histories — with other creditors — even if the consumer has made regular, timely payments with that issuer”.
At times, people do not know how to effectively manage their credit cards. This is why, their credit score is severely affected and they find it hard to acquire financial assistance from banks and other lenders. In order to make sure that your credit score is not affected, you need to effectively manage your cards. You need to be careful about making payments and using the card for any purchase.
When you make your credit card payments on time, your credit score improves and you can obtain higher amount of credit. On the other hand, if you fail to make the payments on time, your credit score is negatively affected and you may not get any further credit from financial institutions. Here are a few important tips which will help you in effectively managing your credit cards:
- Plan your purchases – Before purchasing or buying any product, determine if it is necessary to buy it. You must make a list of your priorities and stick to that so that you can arrange for the money needed to pay your credit card bills. At any point of time, make sure that you do not purchase something too expensive as it will make you cross your monthly budget or the credit limit on your card. An effective way of way of planning your purchases is to make a shopping list. At the beginning of the month, try to make a list of things you need to buy with the card and stick to that list as much as possible.
- Always check your statements – Check your statements on a monthly basis as the statements will help you understand your spending pattern. Based on your observation, you can try to avoid unnecessary purchases. Also, checking the statements will help you in knowing the minimum payment due for a particular month, so that you can make that payment on time and avoid extra charges or fees. You can easily check your statements online, and you can also use your smartphones to keep a track on your card usage. Mobile alerts can be very helpful in ensuring that you do not end up paying more than what you are supposed to, when you use your credit card for any transaction.
- Try to make full payment – Try to make full payments, whenever possible. When you pay your credit cards in full and within the due date, you do not have to pay any interest on the billed amount. Besides, paying the credit card balances in full will help in improving your credit score. Even if you are not able to pay your credit card balances in full, you should always make sure that you pay the minimum amount due, within the due date. Apart from saving a substantial amount of money on interest, you will also be able to improve your credit score and increase your chances of obtaining more credit in the future.
- Keep a track of supplementary cards – At times, you might forget the fact that you have provided supplementary cards to your family members and these cards are linked to your credit card account. The way these cards are used can have an impact on your credit card account. Hence, you should keep a track on them and also ensure that the transactions completed with them are paid for within the payment due date. Besides, you also need to keep a track of these cards so that you can ensure that the credit limit of your card is not exceeded. If it is exceeded, you will end up paying an over limit fee and other hefty charges.
- Look out for promotional offers – Why pay more when you can get the same product by paying less? Be a little smart when using your plastic money and make sure that you utilize the variety of offers and promotions provided by the card issuers from time to time. These promotions can provide you with access to discounts, deals and privileges across different segments such as dining, travel, shopping and so on. You can not only save money through these promotional offers but you can also enjoy a variety of other exclusive privileges which will enhance your experience of using a credit card. Make sure that you always visit a website where you can find information about such promotions so that you can take full advantage of them.