How To Avoid The Worst Credit Cards Fees And Reduce Your Debts

If you buy clothing or an appliance, once you swipe your credit card, you probably think you’re done. Your bill is in hand, but that’s not the end of your transaction. You could pay even more in fees and interest.

Just like any other consumer item, you can pay too much for a credit card. Way too much.

You can get nailed by up to 12 fees on credit cards. Although most of them can be avoided, if you’re not careful, you can really get dinged, which will run up your total debts.

The nastiest credit card issuers look for ways to ensnare you. If you’re a late payer — or simply don’t pay attention to your account — you will get nailed and pay hundreds of extra dollars out of your pocket.

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According to a new survey by creditcards.com, the average bank charges six fees. You’ll most often get dinged for paying late or going over your credit limit. Those are easily avoided.

“Late payment and cash advance fees are nearly universal,” the survey found. “The most common late payment fee is up to $37 and the typical cash advance fee is $10 or 5% of the advance (whichever is greater).”

Here are some other common surcharges:

— 85% of cards allow balance transfers charge a fee for that privilege, most often $5 or 3% of the transfer (whichever is greater).

— Returned payment fees are assessed by 80 of the 100 cards surveyed and usually cost up to $37.

— Just over half of the cards levy foreign transaction fees (generally 3% of the transaction).

— Approximately one-quarter come with annual fees.

“The good news is that all of these fees can be avoided with smart financial habits and the most common fees are among the easiest to dodge,” said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst.

“I recommend setting up automatic payments, refraining from using credit cards at ATMs and shredding convenience checks.”

Here are three things you can do to avoid these onerous fees:

1). Pay on time. All credit cards give you a “grace period” of about a month to pay your bill in full without incurring fees. That’s the surest way to avoid additional charges.

2) Read the fine print. Every credit card company must tell you what fees they charge and how they are triggered. Read these terms carefully and know how to avoid additional fees.

3) Shop and Compare. There are thousands of credit card companies out there vying for your business. Shop around to find the best deal.

John F. Wasik is the author of  “Lightning Strikes,” “Keynes’s Way to Wealth“and 15 other books on innovation, money and life. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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