Online Credit Cards - Look Before you Click!

10/20/2001

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Obtaining a credit card online may be as easy as a click of the mouse, but experts advise there may be a lot more at stake when you hit the "send" button. Using the Internet to shop for a credit card can be fast, easy and convenient. But in searching for the best package and best rate, be aware that not all online credit card offers are as straightforward as they appear. It is important to know, before you hit the "send" button, what the interest rate is based on, how long the rate applies, what the difference in rates are between purchases and cash advances and what the penalties are for late payments.

Before you click the "send" button, be aware that each time you apply for a credit card, online or offline, the credit card company will send an inquiry to one of the credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experion or TransUnion. Each time a lender requests information from one of the three credit reporting agencies a notation is placed in your credit file that shows an inquiry was made into your creditworthiness. An inquiry will usually remain on your credit report for as long as two years. So, if you have applied for several different cards over a short period of time, that may affect the way lenders view your creditworthiness.

When applying for a credit card online, read the fine print carefully! Be sure to browse the site thoroughly for any information about the terms and conditions well before you choose to click the "send" button. Personal credit calculators and other measures are available to help you gain an accurate picture of what your creditworthiness is and what terms, conditions and rates you may or may not be entitled to.

Do not succumb to the allure of flashing and pop-up ads. Although the ads may claim to offer a great deal, you will want to research the actual terms before you apply.

If you cannot find clear, accurate information, or if the terms and conditions of your application are not what you were promised, contact your local Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission (1.877.FTC.HELP), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (www.fdic.gov) or the Federal Reserve Board (www.federalreserve.gov).

 

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