Americans love their credit cards. Did you know that the average American household has not one credit card, not two credit cards, but five credit cards? According to the Federal Reserve, the average credit card debt is about $15,000. This is unsecured credit card debt only. These figures don’t include auto loans or student loans or home loans. It’s easy enough to get into credit card debt, but usually not quite so easy to get out of it. That’s because the credit card industry has some dirty little secrets they don’t want you to know about.
In the good old days, if you wanted to buy something you found out how much it would cost, you saved up the money buy vcc, and you bought whatever it was that you wanted. Not in today’s “instant gratification” culture. Now you don’t need the money to buy whatever you want, you just need a little plastic card – and apparently most families have five of them to choose from!
You probably have the best intentions when you use your card. You’re just a little tight this month, or you are in-between paychecks, or just as soon as your tax refund comes in, you’ll pay off your credit card balance in full. That’s what’s best for everyone, right? Wrong!
Your credit card company doesn’t want you to pay off your card – ever. If you pay off your balance when you receive your statement, all the credit card company gets is a measly percentage they collect from the store called a merchant fee. But, if you pay just the minimum balance, then it’s a whole different ball game. That’s where they make their real money. That’s why when you get your statement there is a very prominent box with the words “Minimum Payment Due”. If you only pay this amount, they get to charge you interest. In fact, they are banking – quite literally – on you using the card again for more purchases since the minimum payment due is so affordable. Did you know that a $10,000 purchase at 19.98% interest will take you 37 years to pay off? Care to take a guess at how much interest you’ll pay on that $10,000 in the meantime? You might want to sit down. Over the 37 years, you will pay almost $19,000 in interest alone!
Have you ever noticed that your credit card due date seems to move around? Some credit card companies are no longer on a 30-day cycle, but a 21-day cycle. The likelihood of you being late with a payment is pretty good. When that happens, they get to charge a late fee. This is usually around $39. In 2004, the credit card industry took in approximately $13 billion in late fees and penalties. How’s that for an additional income stream!