Credit Cards are bad. Period. There is no other way to say it. Credit Cards, along with interest only loans (which I’ll save for another day) are a true plague. The only reason why you should not give up credit cards is if you enjoy throwing money down the drain. I will attempt to outline for you ways in which credit card companies prey on people. Not just people, but people who are already in debt over their head. Below you will find a couple real life examples of the low life practices credit card companies use every single day. I will detail for you why most Credit Counseling Services are bad, and should not even be considered as a viable option. I will give you sources for how to truly get out of debt and some people/organizations that can help. In the end, I truly hope you do learn something from this page. I hope that it gives you the willingness to get out of debt and stop throwing your hard earned money down the drain.
Throughout college I personally had one credit card which I vowed would be used only in situations when I was out of money and something came up that I just couldn’t misss out on. Well, for a young college kid both of those situations came up quiet often. I, like most of my part-time working friends, ran out of money frequently and it seemed like there was something going on every other day that I just couldn’t miss out on. The credit limit on my Visa was $2,000. By the time I graduated from college I had about $1,200 on it. Some of my friends ran up $10,000’s of credit card debt. I started a full-time job and paid off my card right away. One of my unfortunate friends is stuck with $9K left on a card with an annual rate of over 18%… He also has a new apartment and is currently making $26K per year. This is just one example of how it starts. He hadn’t planned on having that much debt. But it happened. He would knew his bank account was getting low and right there next to his debit card was his Visa.
A year later I got married and brought on my wife’s student loan and credit card debt of just over $1,000. This is when I first realized how low credit card companies can go. My wife requested a hold on her account for 4 months prior to our wedding. Things were tight and she asked if she could postpone paying for that amount of time. She was told that would be fine, but she didn’t get the reps name or a confirmation number. Fast forward to 5 months later after our honeymoon. When I opened the bill I almost threw up. The balance was $1,700. A $700 increase in 5 months time. I called the credit card company right away and after going through many loops to be authorized to talk to them on behalf of my wife I found out the problem. The hold was never put on the account and they have no record of my wife ever calling. How can I dispute that with no record of it myself. So, my wife’s account incurred some serious late charges over the 5 month period of time. But it doesn’t stop there. I asked the rep what the annual percentage rate for her card is…34%..
After waking up from fainting, I quickly called my credit card company and asked about any balance transfer deals. Luckily they had a deal for prime – 2%, so I transferred the entire amount and we’re still paying on it today (almost gone though!).
I’ll briefly touch on a couple more examples of the tactics used by credit card companies, then get to a true action plan for getting out of debt. Credit Card companies literally accept almost anyone. You may balk and that thinking, well I have been declined etc. What most people don’t know is that the companies actually only check a sample of credit reports.
A high percentage of credit reports go unchecked, thus people in debt up to their ears often qualify for a new card and the hold they’ve dug gets deeper and deeper. Credit Card companies are notorious for using great promotions (bait) to get people signed on. There are some things you should be cognizant of before taking any of these deals. If you’re reading this page the type of deal you would most likely be interested in is a balance transfer deal. Most balance transfer promotions offer 0% for x period of time.
The only time you should even consider one of these promotions is if the transfer amount is minimal and you are absolutely confident you will have no trouble paying it off within the year. The rate after the promotion typically increases to 15% or greater and you’ll end up in the same position you’re currently in. You should be patient and find a deal where the balance transfer rate remains the same throughout the life of the transfer. You should also only go with the promotion if you can get at least the prime rate, even better would be prime – x%. Lastly, it is implicit that the payments be made on time, every month. Otherwise the rate will increase exponentially and you’re screwed, again.
So, you’ve gotten yourself into this mess and you want to know your options… You only have a few options, but you should feel comforted to know that these methods are prove. You probably have heard commercials on the radio, or even seen some on TV for credit counseling services, promising to consolidate your debt and lower your down payment. What those commercials fail to tell you is that a majority of those companies are actually owned by… the Credit Card companies… Another thing the commercials don’t tell you is that using a service like that is seen as a step above filing bankruptcy as far as your credit score is concerned. Here are some options that will allow you to get out of the hole, without damaging your credit report for 10 years.
Debt Snowball You’ve likely heard about it before, or you may even know what it is already. That is fine. The key point here is that you must put it into action. As Dave Ramsey, the originator of this method said “”This is the toughest of all the Baby Steps,” he writes. “It is so hard, but it is so worth it.” For those of you that don’t know what it is, here is a brief summary:
Keep in mind that this excludes your home mortgage, as well as any other real-estate or business loan that totals more than 50% of your annual income.
Make a list of your debt (lets say there are 5 on your list), putting it in order with the highest rate debt first. Pay the minimum payments on 2-5 and pay as much as you can possibly pay on #1. Once you’ve paid off number 1, the amount that you can pay on #2 will increase by default (snowball effect).