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John E. Pytte Aug. 9, 2016

credit cards in pocketWhile credit cards can be a useful financial tool, they can also create a problem for those who don't understand how their cards work and wind up in debt. Whether you already have credit card debt Savannah GA or you want to avoid getting in too deep with your cards, here are some Credit Card Debt secrets that your financial institution won't tell you.

1. Be Aware of "Gray" Charges

Gray charges is a term used to describe fees and charges that while not technically illegal, may be deceptive. Think the monthly fee for a "free" trial that you never canceled and additional fees added on after the fact to a purchase you approved (sometimes called "zombie" fees). Check your credit card statement monthly and dispute any charges you haven't explicitly approved.

2. Look Closely Before Making a Balance Transfer

If you've gotten an offer in the mail for a balance transfer, read the fine print. These offers are often too good to be true. In many cases, the advertised 0% APR interest rate applies only to the transferred balance, not to new purchases. In other cases, the balance transfer is subject to a higher APR than purchases made with the card. In addition, many companies charge a balance transaction fee that comes to around 3 and 5 percent of the amount that you transferred.

3. Know When Your Balance Gets Reported

To avoid having your credit score dinged for a high debt-to-income ratio, it's not enough to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. To protect your credit score from the impact of the purchases you've made throughout the month, find out when your credit card company reports your balance to credit bureaus. Then, make sure to pay your balance in full before that date arrives.

4. You Can Negotiate Your Interest Rate

Sometimes, this is as easy as calling your credit card company and asking for a lower rate. For best results, though, tell the representative about a competing offer from another company, noting that you are planning to switch if your current issuer can't match the APR and other perks. Annual fees are also often negotiable, especially if you're a good customer.

5. You Must Be Notified Before a Rate Increase

However, credit card companies don't like to shout about your new, higher APR from the rooftops. Instead, they'll send this news in an easily missed white envelope. In addition, the company only has to give you 15 days notice before changing your rate. To avoid the impact of a credit score increase, be vigilant about checking your postal mail.

6. Late Payments on any Bill Can Raise Your APR

If you pay your credit card bill late, not only will you be subject to a late fee between $30 and $50, you'll also see an interest rate hike to as much as 30 percent. If you pay another bill late, your credit card company may respond by raising your interest rate. By the same token, a late payment on one card can result in higher interest rates on all your credit card accounts.

7. Low Minimum Payments Aren't for Your Benefit

While a low minimum payment might fit with your budget, paying just 2 percent of the balance each month makes it nearly impossible for you to get out of debt -- meaning that credit card companies keep making money.

By being aware of these tricks, you can help keep yourself out of credit card debt Savannah GA.Talk to our helpful staff about your credit card debt- don’t spend another dollar or another minute in the red. Georgia Debt Relief is here to help.