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Credit cards and the small print

When it comes to the small print of your credit card agreement, it can be tempting to skim over it – or not bother reading it at all. It’s important to take the time to familiarise yourself with the finer points so you can get the most from your new product.

Looking at the finer detail

The small print will contain a lot of information, including details of fees and rewards. The most common fees to look out for when using a card include application and processing charges, late payment fees, transaction fees, balance transfer fees and charges for exceeding your credit card limit – checking the small print terms and conditions can help you to work out how much certain actions will cost you, and so plan accordingly. Many credit cards come with benefits, too – from introductory interest rates and bonus rewards to extended warranty coverage and insurance. Emergency card replacement may also be available, and it’s worth knowing whether your provider offers it in case your card is lost, stolen or damaged.

Some credit cards even offer entertainment benefits, such as two-for-one offers on attractions, or preferred seating at music or comedy gigs.

What to expect

Whichever card you choose, it’s worth remembering that a breach of your contract – such as a late payment or going over your agreed credit limit – could mean you are charged. It’s important to ensure you have a good knowledge of your credit card, so you can manage your money accordingly.

If you’re concerned about costs, reading your card’s credit agreement should clear up any doubts. For instance, if you decide to take out a credit card for a 0% balance transfer offer, reading the fine print will explain all the conditions, so you can stay in control.

Keep in the know

Thoroughly reading anything you receive from your credit card lender will help you to stay informed. Statements, for example, will alert you to important changes – such as an increased interest rate following a 0% introductory period – so don’t put off reading what could be important information. If you don’t understand anything written in the terms and conditions, contact your credit card lender and ask them to explain it.