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

Find out:

1. Is there an introductory rate? What is it and how long does it last?

2. After that, what will my rate be?

3. Is there an application fee?

4. Are there processing fees?

5. Is there an annual fee?

6. Is there a late fee?

7. Is there an over-the-limit fee?

8. Are there any other fees, like account termination fees or balance-transfer fees?

9. When and how can a variable rate be changed?

10. What is the grace period before interest is applied?

11. How will you inform me of any changes in my contract?

12. Will the company inform me if I am about to go over my limit?

13. If I go over my limit, what happens?

14. What is the company policy if I have trouble paying my bill?

15. May I pay my bill online?

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