My credit card company is offering me an additional card. Should I accept it?

Don't get lured into signing up for "fee-harvester" credit cards.

Probably not. Some credit card issuers offer you an additional card, even if you are in default on a card from the same credit card issuer. These cards are known as “fee-harvesters.” The offer may tout credit limits “up to $5,000” or more, but the consumer who applies often winds up with a much lower credit limit, often as low as a few hundred dollars. 

In the past, fee-harvester cards had so many high fees that consumers would be almost near the credit limit just with the fees, even before making a purchase. Although the 2009 Credit CARD Act limits fees during the first year you own the card—they cannot be more than 25% of your credit limit—the rule doesn’t apply to late charges, returned payment charges, or over limit charges. And it doesn’t apply after the first year. The end result: You’ll end up paying high fees on not just one, but two, credit cards.

Learn more about dealing with credit cards and credit card debt

Excerpted from Solve Your Money Troubles: Debt, Credit & Bankruptcy, by Margaret Reiter and Robin Leonard (Nolo). 


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