Get Back At Your Creditors

Mary Hunt

Late fees, punitive interest rates, over-limit fees, loading up your credit report with negative information-it's enough to make you scream!

It's not that your creditors are doing anything illegal. You just didn't understand the power you gave them when you accepted that card (it was buried in the fine print). And now it seems like they're staying up nights looking for new ways to stick it to you. If you've just about had enough, maybe it's time for you to turn the tables and get back at them.

Pay early. Nearly 30 percent of a credit card company's profits are derived from fees-annual fees, late fees and over-limit fees. You'd think they would be pretty satisfied with all that interest you send them each month. But no. They want more.

The days when issuers allowed 10 or 15 days for a payment to arrive after a due date before charging a fee are long gone. Now those fees kick in if you're even five minutes late, and can range from $20 to $39 per occurrence. And the time between when you receive your statement and when the payment is due? Shrinking.

Get back at your credit card company by making a decision right now to never pay another dime in late fees. Be quick with your payment. Send it in the preprinted envelope that came with your statement. Don't enclose a note, use a paper clip, decorate with stickers or do anything that will pull it out of the fast track and into manual processing.

Stay below. Your credit card account most likely has a credit limit. And it's all but meaningless since most companies are very happy for you to go over limit. They are doing you no favors, believe me. And it's not like they don't notice. Just the opposite: They cheer because your indiscretion makes them a lot of money. They get to collect more interest on your bulging balance. But worse they get to stick you with a horrendous over-limit fee.

Not only is going over limit hazard-ous to your wealth, it's deadly for your credit score. Get back at your card company by creating a wide margin between your balance and your limit.

Stop using. Your card companies are playing the odds. They know the more you use your cards the better their chances that you'll go nuts and rack up a big load of debt. When your balance becomes greater than the amount you can pay off in a single month, they've got you. They're doing all they can to encourage that to happen.

Stop adding new purchases to your burgeoning load of debt. You'll do yourself a favor and get back at your credit card companies at the same time.

Open eyes. All of your creditors know what's in your credit report. They read it regularly. You should too. Part of your agreement with them is that they can check up on you whenever they like to see how you are handling your financial affairs. And if they see something they don't like? They can raise your interest-even if you've been squeaky clean with their account.

You can get back at your creditors by staying ahead of them. Manage your credit report by reading it regularly. If you don't understand what it says, ask. And if you see something on there that you know to be untrue, dispute. But don't stop there. If your creditors are punishing you for things on your credit report that were not true, don't sit back passively. Get it fixed then confront them. Don't back off until they reverse the action.

Pay off. Probably nothing will benefit you more than bringing your balances to $0. It's like getting a tax-free raise because you get to keep all of that money you've been sending each month to your creditors.

Get back at your creditors by refusing to send them one more penny in interest.

Close accounts. Your creditors, even when your balances are at $0, will continue to do everything they can to tempt you back into debt. You are the source of their income. They will miss your money terribly.

Get back at your creditors by selecting one good all-purpose credit card to keep and then canceling all others. Do yourself a big favor by removing your name from their list of money-making assets.

Getting back at your creditors will bring you great satisfaction. An even greater payoff is the peace of mind you will enjoy. You'll sleep well and get along better with the people who mean the most to you. And it's a proven fact that your health will improve. Of all financial pressures, credit card debt causes the most stress.

© 2004 The Cheapskate Monthly. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 "The Cheapskate Monthly" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt.  What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt.  Today, "The Cheapskate Monthly" is read by close to 100,000 Cheapskates.           Click here to subscribe.

Seeking financial harmony in your marriage? Read Mary Hunt's book Debt-Proof Your Marriage published by Revell.