Went in to pay my AMEX card as I usually do each month (on time), and saw this gem of a notice highlighted in my face as I went to click the “pay” button:
“If we do not receive your Minimum Payment Due by the Payment Due Date of 09/08/17, you may have to pay a late fee of up to $38.00 and your APRs may be increased to the Penalty APR of 29.99%.”
Umm.. WHAT?? A Penalty APR? 29.99%?? Is that a warning or a threat to your perfectly-paying loyal customer for the past 7 years straight? I know I never give you any interest fees, but damn – didn’t know it was going to be like that.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been learning all about these “penalty APRs” lately as we’re putting together our list of favorite credit cards we’ll be releasing here on the blog soon, but the whole time I just assumed this stuff was for other people – not me. You know, for those going on benders left and right and maxing out their cards on lottery tickets and bling while they live in their vans down by the river.
But for ME? J. Money?? Pshh… Who do you take me for?
Answer: someone who will apparently be paying $40 late fees and 30% interest rates if they F up at any time! Haha… (And new companions of all those van dwelling party friends it seems too ;))
Of course, good luck trying to pry away my credit cards when they make my life simpler and reward me with niceties like free cash back, but it’s a good reminder to continue staying vigilant as ain’t no one immune to this nonsense out there.
In fact, here are some other reminders to keep in mind as well if you’re trying to stay on the good side of the Credit Card Police. Because here’s the crazy part – all of these fees are perfectly legal!!
- ALWAYS – no matter what – pay at least the minimum owed on your cards every single month. Don’t give them a chance to bend you over – do whatever it takes! UPDATE: Good tips in the comments today y’all – especially on setting up automatic payments to at least take care of the minimums in case you forget! I always forget that one as I manually log in and pay off my balances each month (to force myself to double check everything!).
- If you DO slip up, which you will – because you’re human – call them up right away and
begput on your sweetest, most sexiest voice, and ask them to please waive it for you as you’ve been a loyal customer and plan on giving them more and more of your hard earned money over time. If they say no, ask to speak to a manager and then repeat (if the manager says no, hang up and try again!).
- Make sure you’re aware of all these sneaky stipulations your card can attach! I’m not sure if this is a new thing for AMEX or if it’s always been there and I’m just now noticing it (you know when you start seeing stuff over and over again once you learn about it for the first time?) but whatever the case, know that not *all* credit cards implement these types of penalty rates. So it may make sense to start searching around for a new one if the potential downsides outweigh the temporary inconvenience of switching. Which leads us to the last item…
- Make sure you REALLY know yourself well! If you know you’re going to miss out on payments, or have a good chance of blowing money before you’ve even earned it, stay as far away from credit cards as you possibly can. There are plenty of other ways to get through life without them, and despite what companies or “experts” say, avoiding debt is much more important than your credit score or extra rewards. Don’t even risk it!
As for me and my AMEX card, well, I won’t be canceling it anytime soon as I still trust myself enough to play by the rules, but they’re not gonna win any Best Friends award anytime soon… And one day they just may find themselves on the cutting block if need be!
The credit card game is getting real out there, fam. Watch them backs.