General Question

gorillapaws's avatar

How do I find a credit card that won't try to screw me in the fine print?

Asked by gorillapaws (15744 points ) January 23rd, 2011

I’ve got no debt (aside from my mortgage) and am looking to get a credit card for emergencies and to build credit (mine’s good but not perfect). I don’t care about cash back, balance transfers, comic book characters on the card, 0% initial rates that balloon up to 50% in 6 months or any other gimmicks.

I want a reasonably low interest rate, and don’t ever want to be charged interest on new purchases until after that month’s statement. Basically, I’m looking for a card that will treat me fairly, not try to fuck me over, and will receive a reasonable interest rate from me if I ever need to cary a balance for longer than a month. No fees, no tricks, no gimmicks/points/miles, no bullshit. Do cards like this exist? Where can I find one?

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10 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Good question. You could try going through your bank rather than responding to ads and promotions.

You might also try calling their customer service number before you sign up, just to see how long they like to keep you on hold. I may be cynical, but if I routinely wait 45 minutes and then get disconnected, I tend to think they don’t really want to take my call.

Personally, I will not do business with any credit card company that has its headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.

ETpro's avatar

Very simple. You don’t. By allowing banks to offer credit cards across state lines, we set the stage for abuse. With their financial clout, big banks packed the legislatures of a few low-population states and had banking laws there amended to allow them to legally enter the loan sharking business. What would land the Mafia in jail is now fine in several states so long as it is a bank breaking your ribs for late payment.

Allow health insurers to sell across state lines and the same will soon be true for health insurance.

Judi's avatar

American Express charges the merchants a little more so they don’t charge you as much. No interest if you pay it off every month and good rewards programs.

JLeslie's avatar

I guess now there is some new tricky stuff in fine print, but I have never paid any interest or fees for a credit card, except my credit card that gives me frequent flyer miles, I pay a yearly fee for that benefit. I have absolutely no idea what interest or penalties my cards have, I have never paid attention to that, because I always pay on time, I recommend you do to.

mrlaconic's avatar

Go to a small credit union, that just has a few branches in your general area. They are more willing to explain things then banks.

Jeruba's avatar

There’s also the option to read all the fine print carefully and ask about anything that you don’t understand.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jeruba I have been reading the fine print, on several sites like the one @YARNLADY suggested, and they all had shady little clauses in there (which is why I asked the question). I couldn’t find a single one that behaved as a simple card with reasonable terms. Finally, I followed @mrlaconic‘s advice to check out a local credit union, and I found one that looked very straightforward and reasonable. It’s a bit absurd how difficult that was to find.

Jeruba's avatar

Absurd, @gorillapaws, but not surprising. There’s a predatory mentality behind them that seems to be a high concentration of the attitudes we find in business and commerce generally these days, multiplied many times since the advent of the Internet made it so easy to con, deceive, and victimize. I hope the service you found proves to be an exception.

shirleylopez's avatar

If I understood the question correctly, I think what @gorillapaws want is a standard credit card, which is the very basic, no frills. Your purchases is working on a revolving credit limit; when used up, wait till you pay the month’s balance and the card is ready again for purchases the next month. As far as I know, this type of card is offered by several banks.

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