Money: Know your rights when applying for a credit card

(NC) Are you applying for your first credit card? Maybe you’re looking to get a card that better suits your needs. Do you know what rights you have? Here’s a snapshot:

When you apply
When you apply for a credit card with a bank, they must provide you with certain information. They must clearly set out the key features of the card in an information box that must be at the beginning of the application form or a separate document that comes with it. This includes details such as the card’s interest rate and other charges such as annual fees.

With the card
When you receive your credit card, it must have a credit card agreement with it. Read the agreement carefully to understand your responsibilities and the terms and conditions of the card. If there’s something you don’t understand, contact your bank.

Once you have your card, your issuer must send you a statement, at least once a month, after the last day of each billing cycle.

When terms change
Your bank may make changes to the features or the terms and conditions of your credit card. If so, they must provide you with the details of these changes in writing. They must do so at least 30 days before the changes take effect. They must also get your express consent before raising your credit limit.

There are some exceptions to this rule, such as a decrease in the interest rate, that do not require advance notice.

When your balance drops
Your bank must send you electronic alerts when the credit available on your credit card falls below $100 or an amount you’ve set. Your bank will send these alerts to you automatically. You don’t have to sign up, but you may opt-out at any time by informing your bank in writing. This could be done by email.

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