mailbox, on the Internet, and in radio and
television advertisements. Who hasn’t received
a “pre-approved” credit card solicitation in the
mail, or been bombarded with advertisements
offering credit cards with perks such as low
introductory rates, no annual fee, membership
rewards or “cash back” for using the card?
Those perks sound great. But are they
hiding consumer-unfriendly practices such as
universal default, two-cycle billing, balance
transfer fees, retroactive interest hikes and
penalty interest rates for paying your bill late –
even once? You need to know before you choose
a credit card.
The following is a guide to shopping around
for the best terms, avoiding the pitfalls, and
choosing the credit card that’s right for you.
There is also a list of websites with additional
information, including credit card surveys - -
highlighting the cards which offer the lowest
fees and interest rates, and the best terms and
features - - and a credit card debt calculator that
shows you how much you will pay in interest
and how long it will take to pay off your credit
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER PROTECTION
Gary S. Brown, Director
Andrew J. Spano, Westchester County Executive
County Board of Legislators
A Guide on How to
Choose a Credit Card
How Will You Use Your Credit Card?
If you intend to pay your bill in full each month, and won’t
incur any finance charges, you want a card with no annual
fee and a long grace period. A low interest rate won’t matter
If, however, you expect to carry a balance from month to
month, then you want a card with a low interest rate. You’ll
also want to look at how finance charges are calculated, as
the method varies from card-to-card.
What is the Grace Period?
The grace period lets you avoid finance charges by paying
your balance in full before the due date. If your card includes
a grace period, the issuer must mail your bill at least 14 days
before the due date so you'll have enough time to pay.
The length of the grace