Credit Cards

Miami's Community Newspapers

Credit cards are now a part of our financial experience. It is not unusual for a person to have as many as five or six cards. They are a great way to manage your money. But, you must be careful on how you use the card and the card requirements. If you are not careful, you may be hit with a fee or a very high annual percentage rate. Here are some suggestions to follow.

Most cards offer some kind of rewards points. I suggest you ignore the points and focus on the interest rate charged and the fee structure of the credit card. You always end up paying in some manner for the points earned.

The annual percentage rate charged by the issuer varies a lot from a low of around 8% to a high of 24% depending on your creditworthiness. Try to find and use a card with an annual rate below 12%. Credit unions tend to offer the lowest rates.

Always pay on time!

Most cards have a late payment fee as high as $35 and they may also increase your interest rate up to 29.9% indefinitely.

Yes you can get a cash advance with your credit card. But, there will be a fee of say $15 or 5% of the advance amount, whichever is greater. Those checks they send you to use may be considered a cash advance!

Balance transfers are also encouraged by the issuer. Make sure there is no fee or at least a small fee for the transfer. Many issuers offer a special rate for one year for balance transfers.

Finally, be sure to read the disclosures sent to you. Select the best rate and fee structure for your needs. Always pay on time to avoid penalties. And, limit the number of cards you carry.

Michael Raley may be reached at

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