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The Real Fine Print on Credit Cards

You are often warned about reading the fine print of credit card agreements before signing on the dotted line. The problem is that most people are not reading the correct fine print. They are reading the terms and conditions. That tells you a few points. However, it doesn't tell you the whole story. As they say...the devil lies in the details and those details are in the card member agreement.  


Yes, the card member agreement tells the whole story. As opposed to the terms and conditions page, this agreement is typically around 18 pages. You don't get that agreement until after you get the card. Once you charge the card for the first time, you have just agreed with the card member agreement. Most people will not pay attention to the card member agreement and throw it away. You might want to be familiar with it. This is a Citi-card agreement. Make sure and read the underlined statements.


Default. We may require immediate payment of your total Account balance, to the extent allowed by law, if any of the following occur: 1. You don’t pay at least the Minimum Payment Due by the due date. 2. You have a Returned Payment. 3. You file for bankruptcy or some other insolvency proceeding is filed by or against you. 4. You don’t honor the terms of this Agreement. 5. You default under any other card agreement you have with us. 6. You’re declared incompetent or mentally incapacitated, or in the event of your death.


Closing or Suspending Your Account. We may close or suspend your Account if any of the events listed above occur, or for any reason, or for no reason. We may do this at any time, without notifying you, as allowed by law.


Changes to this Agreement. We may change this Agreement for any reason and at any time, subject to applicable law. This means that we can change rates and fees that apply to your Account. It also means we can add, replace or remove provisions of this Agreement.


So, think about some of this language as you are tempted to open a credit card account for the Christmas season to help out on expenses. It might just not be worth it.