Avoid Credit Card Fees And Interest Rate Increases!

[This post is written and copyrighted by FIRE Finance (http://firefinance.blogspot.com).]

Credit CardsHaving a high credit card bill in itself is a cause for concern. To add to it we don't want any exorbitant fees, finance charges and consequent rate increases. Given the slightest opportunity the credit card companies would be too happy to do so. We believe that with a little discipline and some simple strategies we should be able to avoid such unnecessary charges. From our own experience we have found these tips to be fairly effective for managing our credit card accounts.

Online Account Access

This is one is a must. Due to advances in technology and the internet boom, e-banking and online brokerages are abound nowadays. As a result every major bank that offers a credit card provides free online account access. Its best to make good use of this boon.

We check our accounts at least once a week. If we go on a vacation or are traveling, we keep a tab on our accounts by using wireless internet access available at most hotels and internet kiosks. For us most credit card frauds have occurred while we were traveling and did not get a chance to check our accounts for weeks.

Set Email Alerts

Yet another boon of broadband internet access. By all means use this feature and set up multiple alerts on the card account. Here are some useful examples of alerts. Please customize according to your specific situation and needs.
  • A single purchase of $500 or more.
  • Total balance exceeding $2000.
  • Statement available to view online.
  • Payment posted.
  • Payment due in 3 days.
  • No payment received.
  • Available credit falling to less than $1000.

Automatic Bill Pay

Though very effective this one is a bit tricky. On one hand it surely gives us the peace of mind of never missing a payment. On the other hand we have to be aware of how much we owe to our credit card company and ensure that enough cash is available in the checking account prior to the bill pay. Most card online account management centers provide us with the flexibility of choosing a bank account, a date of payment and making full or minimum payments.

Online Bill Pay

All right here is the solution to the concerns that may prohibit us from doing automatic bill pay. By using online bill pay we're in total control. We can plan and make enough money available in our checking account before pulling the trigger on our bill payment. No mailing, no stamps, no procrastination, no late payment fees!

Electronic Statements

No doubt, e-statement saves trees. But how does it save money? Allow us to explain. We read somewhere that on an average an American moves 15 times or more in a lifetime. Well we have already moved 10 times in the last decade - that is once per year!

Every time we move things tend to get lost and misplaced. Bills and documents pile up over time. So prior to a move lots of documents and bills get shredded to reduce clutter. Alas sometimes necessary documents get destroyed due to carelessness.

So having electronic statements enables us to save them to the hard disk of our computer itself. We can also back them up on CDs, DVDs, flash drives, etc. That makes it so handy since we can access old bills in a jiffy.

While preparing personal income tax returns for 2006 most people took the federal standard refund amount for telephone excise taxes. Why? Because of lack of availability of old bills. Of course we can request any bank, brokerage or utility provider to give us a duplicate bill albeit after paying a modest fee. But if we have our e-statements (archived) we can save some of our hard earned dollars by not paying the banks any fees for pulling up our old bills.

We hope that these simple strategies help you to avoid credit card fees. Do you have any tip to add? Please feel free to share.

Image Source(s): iStockPhoto

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