Dirty Credit Card Secrets and Video

Too small a grace period, or none at all. Historically, credit cards offered a grace period of about 30 days. If you paid your balance in full during that time, you were charged no interest on your purchases. But card companies don’t make money on good customers. As such, the length of many grace periods is starting to wane.

Some credit cards don’t offer a grace period anymore.

Cash advances. Regardless of your terms, you almost never get a grace period for cash advances, which means you begin paying interest on them right away. Adding insult to injury, the interest rates on cash advances are typically higher than the ordinary rate on card purchases.

You may be tempted to put your credit card in the ATM and get cash, but it’s very expensive.

Interest rates on cash advances can climb as high as 30 percent, similar to the fees assessed after a late payment.

Credit card fees. Fees in general have headed skyward in the past few years. You can be charged onerous fees for misdemeanors such as late payments or overstepping your credit limit.

The average late payment fee in January 2002 was $28.58, up from $11.60 in 1994. The average over-the-limit fee during the same period was $26.92, up from $12.47.

Financial Contributor Vera Gibbons spoke with us about secret credit card company rate hikes.