Be a Savvy Consumer

Be a Savvy Consumer: Read the Fine Print & Avoid Hidden Fees

It’s hard to read the fine print on any contract. It can take a lot of time and concentration. But it’s still VERY important! Some of the details in the fine print reveal extra costs and money that you agree to when you sign the contact.

Don’t let anyone rush you when you read the fine print! It’s important that you read and understand everything in the fine print. If you don’t read it, you may not know about the hidden fees that you will agree to when you sign the contract.

Here are some tips for making sure that you focus on the important information:

Credit Cards

  • Check the “Schumer box” on your statement for the terms and conditions of the credit card. The “Schumer box” is a complete summary of the costs of the credit card.
  • Know the Annual Fee, the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and the Grace Period on each credit card that you own.
  • Familiarize yourself with other transaction fees that are associated with your credit cards. These fees can include balance transfers, late payments, exceeding the credit limit and cash advances.

Bank or Credit Union Fees: Ask yourself the following questions. If you don’t know the answer, call your bank or credit union as soon as you can to find out the answers!

  • Do any of your accounts require a minimum balance?
  • How much does your back charge for overdraft fees?
  • Is there a fee for a non-bank ATM withdrawal?
  • What is the fee to purchase a cashiers check or money order?
  • What other fees may apply to your checking or savings account?

Cell Phone Contracts: Did you know that the majority of Americans pay too much for their cell phone service? It’s true!  When shopping for a new cell phone, be sure to ask whether you will be charged for any of the following:

  • State and Federal universal service charges
  • Activation, roaming and early termination fees
  • Directory assistance
  • Downloads for applications, music or pictures

Did You Know?
The Credit CARD Act of 2009, also known as the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, drastically changed the way that credit card companies can charge consumers. This law is intended to help consumers understand the fees and charges related to their credit cards. The changes required by the Credit CARD Act of 2009 will result in:

  • Enhanced consumer protections
  • Enhanced customer disclosures
  • Additional protection for young consumers
  • New rules for gift cards

For more information, or to familiarize yourself with the new legislation, please visit the following websites:
www.federalreserve.gov/creditcard/
www.credit.com/credit_information/credit_law/

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