Credit card charges hiked up to 50%
By Ankit Sharma
Aug 27, 2008
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If you have a credit card (and most of us do), then get ready to lighten your pockets with heavier bills.

Over the past week, nearly all banks - right from PSU giant SBI to private sector players like ICICI and HDFC. And not to be left behind, the foreign players such as Deutsche Bank and HSBC - have either raised or are in the process of raising the "finance charges".

Presently the rate, which ranges between 35 to 50 per cent is being charged from credit card holders. These rates are charged on payments made after the expiry of credit-free period. The credit- free period normally extends from 15 days to 2 months. This charge exceeds three times the prime lending rates of less than 15 percent for most banks.

Last month, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) said that "charging of interest at rates in excess of 30 per cent per annum from the credit card holders by banks for the formers' failure to make full payment on the due date or paying the minimum amount due, is an unfair trade practice," yet banks are on their constant spree to increase interest rates on credit cards.

These asterix marked fine printed charges ranging between 30 to 40 per cent till now have managed to find space only in some corner of the statement hardly visible to the reader. To top it all, there has been no definite limit to which these rates could be increased.

Banks state that as the market is in its low liquidity phase, it becomes essential for them to raise their finance charges. This hike of about 10 percent in the credit cards charges have been due to the increase in the risk involved in the current scenario. On the other hand, auto and home loans where risk involved has been much lower show an increase of only 0.5 to 1 percent.

All said and done, it's still possible to beat plastic providers at their own game if you play your cards right!

The best way to handle your credit card is pay off every monthly bill in full. By timing your transaction right, you can not only avoid paying any interest but also enjoy between 45 and 59 days' interest-free credit period.


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