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Credit Card FAQ Files

General Credit Card Questions


What are the major credit card companies?
According to the 2019 J.D. Power survey of customer satisfaction, the top credit card companies are Discover, American Express, Capital One, Chase, Barclays US, Citi, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

How will I qualify for a credit card?
You must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien and have a regular income. The creditor will look at your income and Credit Report and give you a Credit Score to determine if you are a good risk for a loan. The results of both of these will determine the type of card, interest rate and credit line you are offered.

How can I get a copy of my credit report?
Contact the three major Credit Reporting Agencies. Contact each of them because more than one may have a file on you. Link to Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union for details.

Does applying for a credit card affect my credit status?
Yes. Each credit card application you submit triggers an inquiry into your credit status. This inquiry remains on your report for 1 year. A red flag is raised if there are more than 10 inquiries during a 6-month period. This is a possible indicator that you are a high risk because you are in too much need of credit. It is a good idea to limit your credit card applications

I have bad credit; can I still get a credit card?
Yes, you will probably start rebuilding your credit with a secured credit card.

What if I am turned down for a credit card?
Ask why you were turned down. The creditor is required to give you a specific reason for not issuing you a credit card. It may be a simple explanation like you haven’t been at your current address or job long enough or that your income doesn’t meet the issuer’s criteria. If you are turned down by several issuers, your credit report may not be satisfactory for a credit card.

How can I save money on my credit card bill?
You can save a great deal of money by using a card with a low interest rate or by paying off your entire bill on time each month. If you can’t pay off a large balance at once, pay as much as you can and switch to an account with a low APR. Eliminate multiple fees by getting rid of all but 1 or 2 cards and avoid late payment and over-the-credit limit fees.

What does APR mean?
Annual Percentage Rate. A yearly fixed or variable rate that measures the cost of credit. Reflects the total yearly cost of the interest on a loan, expressed as a percentage rate. The credit card company must inform you about the APR before you become obligated on the account and on your account statements. Often the introductory APR is the first thing you see on the credit card offer, either on the envelope or the very top of the first page. Read the back of the offer to be aware that the introductory APR can change. Some credit card companies offer a variable APR that is linked to an index performance. The rate change affects the finance charge on your account. A low fixed rate is usually better that a low variable rate. A fixed rate card must give you 15 days notice of a rate change. A variable rate moves regularly without notification of the rate change.

What is a grace period?
The interest-free period of time a lender gives between the transaction date and billing date, if there is no balance carried over from the previous billing cycle. Generally, the grace period is between 20-30 days. If your card includes a grace period, the issuer must mail your bill at least 14 days before the due date so you have enough time to pay. People who carry a balance on their cards do not receive a grace period and finance charges begin the date a purchase is made with a credit card.

What other fees should I look for?
Visit our Terminology page for explanations of Annual Fee, Balance Transfer Fee, Cash Advance Fee, Closed Account Fee, Late Payment Fee, and Over the Limit Fee.

How are finance charges calculated?
Visit our Terminology page for explanations of Average Daily Balance Method, Two-Cycle Billing, Adjusted Balance, and Previous Balance.

After I have been approved, how long will I wait to receive my credit card?
Allow up to three weeks to receive your credit card in the mail.

What is a secured card?
Credit card used by people trying to rebuild their poor credit or beginners trying to establish their credit. The cardholder’s savings deposit or other asset account guarantees payment of the outstanding balance if he defaults on payments. Your credit line will represent 50-100% of the security deposit.

What do I do if my credit card has been lost or stolen?
Visit our Consumer Tips page for information on lost or stolen credit cards.

What is a cash advance?
Credit cards give you a cash advance limit to obtain cash but this comes with a fee. The checks that come attached to your monthly statement or credit card offers are also cash advances. The fee can be a per-transaction fee of a percentage of the cash advance. The cash advance fee is costly because there is no grace period and the interest as soon as the money is withdrawn. The fee is usually 2-5% of the money advanced.

I do not want to receive any more credit card offers. How can I remove my name from the mailing lists?
To remove your name from the mailing lists offered by the main consumer reporting agencies, call 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688) or write:

Trans Union LLC’s Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Include complete name, current address, previous address if you moved in the past six months, social security number, date of birth and signature.

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