What to look out for in credit card small print

13 June 2012

Have you ever bothered to read the small print that came with it, and do you read the terms and conditions before you apply for a new one?

There are numerous catches and loopholes in the fine print of your credit card agreement that you need to be aware of, otherwise you could end up out of pocket.


If the interest rate offered is described as a "typical APR" that means it will only be available for those applicants who have a squeaky clean credit record, everyone else could end up with a much higher rate.

Under EU rules, a credit card firm only has to provide the typical APR advertised to 51% of applicants.

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Credit cards offering a 0% interest rate on purchases can be very tempting but make sure you check the small print for any catches.

Some of these deals come with a minimum spend before you qualify for the 0% rate. For example, the Tesco card offers 0% for twenty five months but you only earn clubcard points if you spend on the card.


Another way credit card providers lure you into taking credit with them is with a 0% interest rate on balance transfers.

This can be a really useful tool when managing debt but make sure you check what the cut-off point is for making those transfers.

For example, the best buy at present is the Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer card, which offers 0% for 26 months on balance transfers, but you must transfer the debt onto the card within 60 days of applying for the card.


Cashback credit cards are riddled with loopholes in the small print. All of them have a maximum spend in order to protect themselves from a shopaholic bankrupting them. But, equally, many have a minimum spend, too.

For example, the Sainsbury's Cashback Low Rate card advertises that it offers users 5% cashback for the first three months.

In fact, the 5% cashback is capped at £50 a month. A further 5% cashback is subject to you spending £500 a month on the card (£250 of that at Sainsbury's).


If all the pitfalls are too much to bear, don't just stick your credit card in a drawer and forget about it. Some credit cards charge a dormancy fee if you don't use them regularly.

For example, all Santander-issued store cards, including Topshop and Laura Ashley cards among others, charge a fee of £10 if you remain in debit for three consecutive months.

So, be sure to read the small print about your card as it may turn out your flexible friend isn't quite as limber as you thought.

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