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The Fine Print: Credit Card Agreements

If you think the agreement you sign when you open a credit card is a contract, you are sorely mistaken.

Credit card agreements are chock full of fine print explaining terms we may not want to agree to if we had the patience and understanding to read through the arcane and complex documents. Below are John Ulzheimer’s three main takeaways for credit card users:

1. First, you should know that credit card agreements might as well not even exist, because they can be modified at any time, for any reason the issuer wants. What the big print giveth, the small print taketh away.

2. Enhancement services are designed to “juice” you, the cardholder. These services, which can be things like credit card protection or credit monitoring subscriptions, are often fulfilled by a third party that is kicking some money back to the card issuer. Beware of anything the issuer is trying to sell you.

3. Many rewards programs have provisions where you sacrifice the ‘points’ or miles you earn for non-usage or delinquency. Even if you’ve already earned them, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are yours in the ‘wild, wild west’ of the credit card industry.