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Just the Credit Facts, Please

by . (Posted in: Credit Cards / Personal Finance News)


UNITY® Visa - The Comeback Card™

Intro APR: 9.95%*
APR: 17.99%*
Annual Fee: 39*
UNITY® Visa - The Comeback Card™

UNITY® Visa - The Comeback Card™

Think you know everything there is about credit cards? Familiar with the many – MANY – statistics? Take a look at some of the bits of information that you might not have known. They’re broken down into no particular order, but we’re sure there are a few that will result in raised eyebrows.

Did You Know…

The American Express Centurion credit card has a $2,500 annual fee and an initiation fee that’s even higher. When it was first introduced, it was done so under a mysterious guise with an invitation only caveat. It’s still offered only by invitation and only to folks with and impressive net worth.

The Discover Card’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that it blew onto the scene in 1985 but was missing one important dynamic its competitors had: an annual fee.

The first American Express charge card was introduced in 1958. Believe it or not, folks were more than a little leery of borrowing money via a small card, especially realizing the money had to be paid back with each billing cycle.

That same year, BankAmericard blew onto the scene. It was offered by Bank of America and is today the familiar Visa card we all know and love. That name change occurred in 1976. And speaking of Visa, it stands for “Visa International Service Association”.

Still, neither the American Express or Visa were the first credit cards ever offered. Diner’s Club issued its first credit cards in 1950 to less than three hundred customers. It was hardly a universal credit card; it could only be used at a few restaurants within New York City.

Both Visa and MasterCard are owned by banks while American Express is its own company. Discover, of course, was first issued by Sears and is now part of the Morgan Stanley family.

Since the beginning, it goes against all credit card agreements with merchants for them to require you to provide certain information, including your phone number and address. It’s against the law for any company to not process a transaction if you don’t provide it when asked. Also, a merchant can’t require your provide a driver’s license before processing a transaction.

Did you know that a vendor can’t require a minimum purchase amount for processing a credit card transaction? Debit card transactions are different, especially recently since the costs to merchants for processing those transactions are on the rise.

Before entering into the charge card business, American Express began in the mid-1800s as an international shipping company. Its main competitor was the United States Postal Service.

While it doesn’t happen as often today as it did in recent years, a business can require you present a credit card before accepting a check, but it cannot use that credit card number to get its money from you if your check doesn’t clear your bank. These days, payments are usually deducted from your checking account the moment you hand the paper check over.

We always tell our readers to read the fine print and compare offers. Here’s something you might not had considered: Call the credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. You might be surprised at how willing a credit card company is to meet your request, especially if you have a strong credit score.

Also, we tell readers to always double check any changes to the terms and conditions associated with their credit cards, but even if you don’t, the moment you use your credit card after those terms and conditions change, it’s a sign to the card network that you accept those changes. See? It pays to read the fine print.

This has caused more than a few problems for credit card customers across the nation. Hotels and rental car agencies will request authorization from your credit card company for the approximate amount of your anticipated stay. Those companies then leave those temporary holds in place for up to two weeks – even if you make your final payment with another credit card or payment method. Not only that, but when you use a credit card at a gas pump, the pump might authorize the purchase around $50 first. So if you have less than $50 left on your limit, the pump will reject your purchase attempt. Paying inside can prevent that from happening.

With the imminent arrival of the new technologically advanced credit cards, this may be a non-issue in a few years, but the expiration date on your credit card really doesn’t mean much. It’s there because the credit card companies need a reminder to send out a new credit card since they take a beating. They know that a magnetic strip is good for just a few years. The fact is, you can still use your credit card if you know the new expiration date, which is often the same one you have now, with a new year.

So there it is. Consider yourself a better informed consumer.

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