Use the credit card companies and don't let them use you! It is unnecessary for anyone to ever find themselves the victim of their credit cards. Because the current credit card industry is under tremendous attack by things like the CARD Act Implementation, competition, and the threat of a shift from plastic to mobile credit, the smart consumer is in a great position today if they know how to play the game.
While credit cards have gotten a bad reputation for victimizing people with late fees, penalties, and high interest rates, the informed customer is in a position to turn the tables. Here are some secrets to help you take advantage of the credit card companies rather than having them take advantage of you.
1) Be in Control:
Most people get a credit card as victims and agree to being taking advantage of. Reverse this by making your decision to only use them for their convenience factor without paying to do so. I never pay interest, sign up fees or late fees on a card -- I use them. They don't use me.
2) Pay Off the Balance in Full:
I never carry a balance with the credit card company no matter how attractive the rate. If you can't pay it off at the end of the month, don't use it. This doesn't take just commitment, but it takes an agreement from everyone in the family that credit cards are only used as an accounting device, its convenience, and only when you can pay it off.
3) Negotiate your rate:
If you are going to have a recurring balance, which I don't recommend, call and negotiate directly with the company. You have every right, and should, call and ask to have the advertised rate lowered. Also, the better your credit and payment history, the better your chances of selling this to them.
4) Customize Your Due Date:
Let's say your paycheck comes on the 15th and 30th, but your credit card bill is due on the 5th. To improve your cash flow and not put yourself under unnecessary pressure, coordinate the due date that best fits your cash flows. You don't need stellar credit to make this call and ask for the change.
5) Ask to Have a Late Fee or Interest Fee Removed:
If you have a good history of on-time payments and then find a late fee or interest fee on the statement because you didn't get your payment in by the due date this time, ask that it be removed. I have done this successfully on over a dozen occasions. Ask for mercy that they remove the fee to reward you for your past good behavior. If the person you speak with can't do it, ask for a supervisor and make it clear that you are willing to close the card out if they don't remove it.
6) Negotiate the Annual Fee:
There is tremendous competition for your business today. There's no reason for you to pay for the use of a credit card. Even a $35 fee a year over a period of 5 years is $175. I'd personally much rather spend that on my wife. Tell the issuer that you want to use their card but don't want to pay the fee. Chances are they won't want to lose your business.
While credit cards can be seen to victimize people they can also be an asset when used correctly. They provide convenience, act as the perfect accounting for expenses, accumulate travel points and cost you nothing. As long as you can be aware and responsible of how you make use of your credit cards, you'll find that they can be great assets to your life. With estimates of over 1 billion Visa, Mastercards and Amex cards in circulation just in the US, it would be important that you make a decision to use your credit cards to benefit your household rather than participating in the credit card company victimizing you.
Grant Cardone is a NY Times Best Selling Author and Sales Training Expert.