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Key questions to ask before you sign up for a credit card

Whether you apply for a card, ask a phone rep to send you information, hook up with a card company's online applications or receive an uninvited application through the mail, don't sign up until you have asked some key questions.

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Find out:

  • Is there an introductory rate, what is it and how long does it last?
  • After that, what will my rate be?
  • Is there an application fee?
  • Are there processing fees?
  • Is there an annual fee?
  • Is there a late fee?
  • Is there an over-the-limit fee?
  • Are there any other fees, like account termination fees or balance transfer fees?
  • When and how can a variable rate be changed?
  • When and how can a fixed rate be changed?
  • What is the grace period before interest is applied?
  • How will you inform me of any changes in my contract?
  • Will the company inform me if I am about to go over my limit?
  • If I go over my limit, what happens?
  • What is the company policy if I have trouble paying my bill?

-- Updated: May 5, 2004

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