How to use a credit card? – Tips for the new users

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Receiving a Credit Card

Credit card issuers may send you an application or a solicitation or ask you by phone if you want a card – and, if you say yes, they may send you one. However, federal law prohibits issuers from sending you a card you didn’t ask for. Once you have requested a card from an issuer, they can send you a renewal or substitute card without your request.

Shopping Tips

Credit card users make sure you keep all these tips while using your credit cards.

– Always hold on to your receipts to reconcile charges when your bill arrives.
– Protect your cards and account numbers to prevent unauthorized use. Monitor your charge slips so that the amounts cannot be changed. Tear up carbons.
– Keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates and the phone numbers of each issuer to report a loss quickly.
– Carry only the cards you think you’ll use.

Cardholder Protections

Federal law protects your use of credit cards. Following is a summary of that protection.

– Prompt Credit for Payment – An issuer must credit your account the day that your payment is received. The card issuer provides exceptions if the payment is not made according to the creditor’s requirements or the delay in crediting your account won’t result in a charge.
– To help avoid finance charges, make sure to follow the issuer’s mailing instructions. Payments sent to the wrong address could delay crediting your account for up to five days. Look for the payment address on your billing statement or call the issuer, if you misplace your payment envelope.
– Refunds of Credit Balances – Pay more than your bill? When you make a return or pay more than the total balance at present, you can keep the credit on your account or you may write your issuer for a refund. A refund must be issued within seven (7) business days of receiving your request. If a credit stays on your account for more than six months, the issuer must make a good faith effort to send you a refund.
– Errors on Your Bill – Issuers must follow strict rules for promptly correcting billing errors. You’ll get a statement summarizing these rules when you open an account and at least once a year. In fact, many issuers include a summary of these rights on your bills.

If you find a mistake on your bill, you may dispute the charge and withhold payment on that amount while the charge is investigated by the issuer. The error might be a charge for the wrong amount, for something you didn’t accept, or for an item that wasn’t delivered as agreed. However, you still have to pay any part of the bill that’s not in dispute, including finance and any other charges.

If you decide to dispute a charge, write to the creditor at the billing inquiries address indicated on your statement. Include your name, address, account number, and a description of the error. Also, send your letter as soon as possible. At the least, it must reach the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. The creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days of receipt of that complaint (unless the problem has been resolved). At the latest, the dispute must be resolved within two billing cycles, but not more than 90 days.

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