Why you should read the fine print of your credit card terms

If you are holding a credit card, you should be aware of its terms and conditions so you can use it responsibly and minimize any risk that could make you financially liable.

I realized I had to write this post after I read a new addition to my Citibank credit card terms and conditions.

Something caught my eye when I recently printed out my statement to pay my bill. A box at the end of my statement caught my attention: “Please be informed that effective immediately, should your credit card exceed the credit limit, Citibank has the discretion to approve any requested credit card transaction depending on your credit standing with the bank.”

Wait a minute! So the bank can approve transactions on my behalf even if that transaction causes me to exceed my card limit?

Seems convenient? Under some situations (like a sudden medical expense or foreign travel) when we need more than the usual credit limit, it may seem so. But medical emergencies don’t happen every day. And we don’t take foreign trips all the time, do we? Remember, all credit card terms apply to us for as long as we continue using the card.

In my case, Citibank’s new terms and conditions made me somewhat uneasy. Here’s what the actual new section says:

“5. DISCRETION (Effective June 2011)

Without giving any reason or notice, and without prejudice to the other provisions hereof, the Bank has the absolute discretion…(b) to approve any proposed Card transaction which may cause the card account to exceed its credit limit;… (d) to increase or decrease the Regular Credit Limit, Combined Credit Limit or Special Installment Limit;…”

Take note. ABSOLUTE DISCRETION.

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