Credit Card ABC is your convenient one stop directory of all things Credit Card related




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A Glossary of Credit Card Terms

Annual Fee: Some credit card issuers charge an annual fee to help offset costs that they incur in maintaining accounts.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR):  The yearly interest rate or percentage that the cardholder pays on their outstanding balance in the form of interest.

Balance: The amount owed by the cardholder to the issuer.

Balance Transfer: The process of moving an unpaid credit card balance from one issuer to another, usually to a card with a lower annual percentage rate to lower interest charges.

Cash Advance: Using a credit card to obtain cash on the spot at a bank or an ATM. The amount of the cash advance is deducted from the cardholder's available credit line. A fee is often charged when obtaining cash advances. In addition, the interest rate is usually higher than on purchases and there is typically no grace period.

Credit Bureau: An agency that checks credit information and keeps a complete file on people who apply for and use credit.

Credit History: The record of how a consumer has paid accounts in the past, used as a guide in deciding whether the consumer's credit worthiness.

Credit Limit. This is the maximum amount you can borrow using your card.

Credit Rating:  A financial institution's evaluation a person's credit worthiness. Credit ratings are based on the person's history, capacity to repay, and capital.

Cosigner: A cosigner agrees to repay any credit card debt if the applicant cannot. This is usually a parent or other family member or a close friend.

Credit: An arrangement between a lender and a borrower whereby a lender lends money to a borrower, and the borrower agrees to pay it back.

Credit Card: A type of payment card that involves a revolving line of credit that is issued to the cardholder. They provide flexibility, allowing you to pay your whole bill at once or over time in increments. If you do not choose to pay your balance in full each month, you will be required to make at least the minimum payment and to pay finance charges on the remaining balance. Credit cards are issued by banks, credit unions, and some retailers like department stores and gasoline companies, among others.

Credit Line: Also referred to as your credit limit. This is the maximum amount you can borrow using your credit card.

Credit Score: This score is computed based on information in your credit report and helps lenders to make judgments about granting you a loan or a credit card. Negative information on your credit report can lower your credit score and harm your ability to get future loans, rent an apartment or even get a new job.

Debit Cards/ATM Cards: Debit and ATM cards are types of payment cards that provide a convenient and secure alternative to cash and checks. They allow you to make a purchase and to access your bank accounts anywhere through the use of an ATM machine.

Finance Charges: The price paid to a lender for the use of borrowed money. Interest is charged as a percentage of your outstanding balance (purchases and charges reduced by payments or credits posted). This percentage, or interest rate, can vary from card to card.

Fixed Rate: An APR that does not change in response to interest rate changes and conditions.

Grace Period: A period of time — usually 20-25 days — when you're not charged interest for purchases you've made. For example, if the billing date on your credit card bill is May 1 and you have paid your prior balance in full, you may have until May 20 to pay your new balance in full. If you do, you will not be charged interest. If your payment arrives after May 20 — or if you don't pay the entire balance — you may be charged interest from the date of purchase as posted. Some accounts have no grace period, which means interest is charged on purchases from the date they are posted.

Interest: The fee paid for the use of money. Interest may be paid, for example, by an individual to a bank for credit card use, or by a bank to an individual for holding a savings account. Interest is expressed in terms of annual percentage rate (APR).

Introductory Period: The time period during which the Introductory Rate applies to balances outstanding on your account.

Introductory Rate: A special APR that applies for only a limited period of time. Sometimes also called a teaser rate.

Issuer: Institutions that provide a credit line to a consumer through a payment card are called issuers. Issuers can include banks, credit unions or savings and loan associations, and retailers such as department stores or gasoline companies.

Online Banking: Online systems allow customers to plug into a host of banking services from a personal computer by connecting with the bank's computers over the Internet.

Rewards Program: A point accumulating program based on purchases or transactions made on your card. These points can be redeemed for the particular program you enrolled in (e.g. airline, gasoline, etc.) Banks may charge annual fees to participate in rewards program.

Secured Cards: Secured cards are a great first step for those with little or no credit history. This type of card requires that a security deposit be made in order to establish a credit line. Your credit line will typically be equal to the amount of your deposit.

Transaction Fees and Other Charges. A card may include other costs. Some issuers charge a fee if you use the card to get a cash advance, make a late payment, or exceed your credit limit. Some charge a monthly fee whether or not you use the card.

Variable Rate:  An APR that periodically goes up or down based on fluctuations in market interest rates as reflected in a published index (e.g., the prime rate published in the Wall Street Journal).


Also see: (Understanding Credit Reports & Scores)




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