Credit card statements include free cold shower

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You might have heard that banks have to play by new rules with their credit card terms and disclosures, starting today.

If you’ve never faced the music when it comes to credit card abuse, your chance is about to come. One of the more digestible – and eye-popping – bits of information that now must be disclosed is how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you make only the minimum monthly payment. Also helpful will be a computation of how much you need to pay each month to wipe out the balance in three years.

Credit cards are wonderful tools for long-haul owner-operators. Unless they’re used wisely, they’re also wonderful traps. If your credit situation isn’t under control, use this new information as a motivator to cut costs, boost revenue, sell assets – whatever it takes to be in charge of your finances instead of your finances being in charge of you. Talk to your accountant if you need help.

Credit card abuse is a two-way street, and this law’s purpose is to end, or at least curb, lenders’ greedy and sneaky practices. These include abrupt raises in interest rates, outrageous service fees and fees for exceeding credit limits, too-brief grace periods for making a payment, and aggressive “universal default” fees (triggered by late payments on things like utility bills).

You’ll find more detail here.

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