Beware Credit Card Convenience Checks

convenience-checks

“Supercheck” or super crappy?

I just received a set of credit card convenience checks in the mail yesterday from my bank. I don’t want to name names so I’ll just refer to the bank as “Mel’s Largo”.

A credit card convenience check is an easy but potentially expensive way to take a cash advance on your credit card. Easy because just about anyone will take a check. Expensive because a credit card cash advance APR (annual percentage rate) is almost always higher than the purchase APR. Hmmm. So their ploy is to get me to spend the same money but in a way that is more expensive for me.

Son of a…!

Anyhoo… So my bank, “Mel’s Largo”, sends me a set of “Superchecks” that I can use for “virtually any expense” (Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you “Mel”). These checks look like regular checks and they have my name and address printed on them, just like a checking account check. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Like other convenience checks attached to a credit card, the fees start almost from the moment I open the envelope. Using the checks triggers a 4% balance transfer fee as soon as the check is cashed. You think that’s not much? If I use one of these checks to pay off a store card balance of $1000, it’ll cost me $40. And, according to the little print, “interest and fees will begin to accrue” as well, once a check is cashed. Ow!

The credit card convenience checks I received include a low promotional interest rate for one year. After that, the interest rate cranks up to 25%! Minimum monthly payments are first applied to balances with the lowest interest rate – leaving the higher rate balances to grow unfettered, like mold in the mystery container at the back of my fridge.

Balances accrued from using these not-so-super checks are not eligible for rewards points, cash back, or rebates. Boo!

The accompanying marketing says I can use the checks for unexpected expenses or to pay an individual (Hello? Ever hear of freeĀ Person-to-Person Payments?).

And the final insult; I can still use the checks after they expire (Oh, how nice.) however, the low promotional interest rate will no longer apply (Ugh! Not nice.).

This is all there in the fine print but who reads the fine print on these things anyway? That’s right – nobody. So do yourself a favor and say no to credit card convenience checks, superchecks, and any other checks you didn’t request. Better yet, shred ’em.

Sorry “Mel”.

 

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About the Author ()

Melvin is the Smart Green Pig. "Smart" as in intelligent. Some would say "Super Intelligent" or perhaps "Genius". But also "Smart" as in surly and sarcastic, so watch your Ps and Qs! By the way, Melvin gets paid (quite handsomely) by SECU, so even though he's completely unbiased, some might think otherwise. Just sayin' (disclosin').

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