credit card interestA credit card company offer says you get to take a month off for your loyalty. It sounds like a great offer, but this is hardly a gift.

Credit card offer gives you a month off

Americans took a huge step forward when the CARD Act was passed making it obvious how much credit card debt you owed and how long it would take to pay off. The big box that appears at the top of your credit card statement makes it obvious how much interest you’ll pay if you make just the minimum payment. Consumer credit counselors say the CARD Act changes to your billing statement have brought more people through their doors asking for help with a budget.

Given all this positive momentum, you can imagine my surprise when my credit card company put a notice in a recent bill alerting me to skip my payment. It said, “Go ahead, take the next month off.” Really?

The notice went on to say, “Well, at least from this month’s payment.* It’s our way of thanking you for our loyalty. To take advantage of this offer, simply enjoy the month off and don’t send a payment. If you choose to decline, just send in a payment like you would any other month. It’s that simple.” As you continue reading, the print gets smaller and smaller.

The smallest print that is referenced above with a * says, “Interest charges will accrue if you do not pay y our balance in full each month.” Isn’t that nice? The bank is letting me skip a payment so they can make money off my balance. That’s not really a gift at all.

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Minimum payments don’t really break the bank. They’re higher than they used to be, but still low considering the balance some people carry. It’s yet another trick banks are trying to try to recoup money lost due to sweeping credit card reform the last few years. Don’t fall for it. It’s not a gift. This will cost you.