Once you sign a financial agreement, you are legally bound to its terms. Your signature indicates you accepted
all limits, fees, penalties, interest rates and all charges associated with the financial product. While some of the terms are obvious and easy to read, such as your payment due date, other terms are not so clear. The “fine print” is the terms of an agreement that is printed smaller on purpose. Fine print often is designed not to attract
the customer’s attention. All of your current accounts, for example, had fine print and if you didn’t read those terms, it may cost you.
Financial products, such as credit cards and personal loans, may have fees tucked away in the fine print.
These charges are commonly called “hidden fees” because most customers don’t read the fine print and don’t realize the fees apply until the charge appears on a billing statement.
Hidden fees include late payment charges, over the limit fees and other specific fees related to the financial
product type. For example, a person transferring a credit card account balance to a new card may incur transfer fees. Service fees may apply to payment methods, such as a fee for making payments by telephone and rush payment fees. Credit cards with a cash advance option usually have cash advance fees. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the total
money advanced. Creditors may charge a fee for transactions made in a foreign county, a particular concern if you’re planning a trip.
Before you sign a financial agreement, check the fine print for hidden fees. The print may be found at the
end of the agreement or appear right before you sign if you’re applying online. A credit product with various extra fees or service charges may not be the best deal for you, even if the interest rate is low. Compare credit offers by the clear terms and the fine print to find the less expensive option. If you decide to take the credit product,
make note of the terms you read in the fine print.
Pay special attention to the fine print for a credit product with an introductory interest rate period. Credit
cards and loans with an initial low interest rate often have terms that allow the creditor to apply the maximum interest rate if you are late on payment or violate another term. The maximum rate may be in the fine print, so make sure you can afford the interest hike before you agree to the terms.
Check the agreements for all your current accounts to avoid incurring extra fees. You may have already been charged
fees you didn’t know about. Take note of all the fine print on your current accounts to save yourself money and unexpected charges.