A Reason to Check Your Credit Card Mail

Rates go up, but sometimes you can opt out.

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Rita Cheng, a financial advisor, recently received a letter from her credit card company informing her that, as soon as she renewed her credit card, her interest rate would jump from 8.99 percent to 14.99 percent. Cheng, who's been a customer since 1990, says she's never paid late and has an outstanding credit score.

When she called to opt out, the rep told her there was nothing she could do to get out of the interest rate jump. "I was thinking, 'This is crazy. Where is the justice in the system?'" Cheng says. But she didn't give up. She called again and managed to get her rate dropped to 2.99 percent for nine months and then back at the original 8.99 percent. That way, she didn't have to bother applying for a new card with a different company. Cheng points out that her experience can serve as a warning to others. "Imagine if I was too busy to check my mail and this just happened. I would have been locked into the new agreement without opting out."

The lesson: Always open the mail that comes from your credit card company, and read the fine print. If you see something you don't like, call to complain. My husband often makes fun of me because I'm so quick to complain to companies, but it's saved us a lot of money.