Personal Finance

Credit or Debit? 5 Financial Horror Stories

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It seems like everyone in the United States has some type of plastic card these days. Whether you are going to college and need a credit card, or you are an adult who has used a credit card for years, credit cards and “buying on credit” are part of our economy and culture. In fact, it seems like even children are receiving debit cards these days. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were an estimated 183 million credit card holders at the end of 2011. That number is ridiculous when you think about the current world population. There are many examples of how people used their card to rack up some pretty interesting credit card receipts.

The security of your credit and debit cards can really affect your financial well-being. After all, you don’t want to discover that your credit score has dropped or that your debit account is overdrawn. We rounded up a few of the most outrageous credit and debit card stories the Internet had to offer. Let them serve as a reminder to take the necessary steps to protect your plastic—and your finances.

1. Through the Roof Interest Rates

Type of Card: Credit

Horror Story: Outlandish Interest Rates… 79.9% to be exact!

We’ve all heard of people who have high interest rates on their credit card because they have bad credit. However, not many people could say that they had a 79.9% credit card interest rate without any warning. According to CNN Money, Toni Riss from Texas discovered she would be paying a lot more in credit card interest than she originally expected. On top of that, she said, when she tried to cancel the card, it took more than 6 months to finalize it.

2. No Credit Cards for Dead People

Horror Story: You are alive. However, your credit report says you have passed away.

Okay, it’s not like everyone gets approved for a credit card when they apply. However, it’s not every day that a living person would get denied a credit card due to being proclaimed dead. That is what happened to Rita Katz when she tried to apply for a GAP credit card, according to a roundup by Bankrate.com. Apparently, there was some confusion, because Rita was clearly alive and ready to make some serious GAP purchases.

3. Jacked by the Waitress

Type of Card: Credit

Horror Story: Waitress takes your tab, your credit card information, and a pretty nice tip.

You know those times when you can’t decide how much you are going to tip. To some waiters it doesn’t matter, especially to the ones who take your credit card information and write their own tip, according to a story in AOL Jobs. Be careful whenever you give out your credit cards. And always check your credit card statements for unexpected charges.

4. Paperless Billing Confusion

Type of Card: Credit

Horror Story: Paperless bill pay brings confusion on due date of payment.

Everyone wants the easiest bill pay option. For this reason, paperless billing has become the new thing to do. It’s quick, easy, environmentally safe, and more secure. You would think that there wouldn’t be any problems with these types of bill pay options. However, just make sure you are aware of your institution’s “Terms and Conditions” and due date for payment. You do not want to think your payment is due one day and be late. That could cost you a lot of money in late fees and higher interest rates.

5. $71 for McDonald’s

Type of Card: Debit

Horror Story: Overdrafting can make a small purchase BIG!

What would you do if your child spent $71 at McDonald’s? Pretty sure you wouldn’t be too happy about it. They might come back saying it is their own money to spend, but there is no excuse for $71 at McDonald’s. This is what happened to one young lady. Little did she know that her less than $5 McDonald’s bill would turn into a $71 tab, according to a roundup in Business Insider. You should always be on top of your budget to ensure that you don’t overdraft your account—and teach your children to do the same.

Hopefully you’ve never been in circumstances like these, and that you never will be. It takes consistent effort to keep yourself financially safe, from credit card fraud and from getting caught in a fee trap. Make sure that you always read and understand the terms and conditions of your cards, pay your bills on time, and keep a close eye on your statements. It only takes one little mishap to get you in serious trouble. And if you don’t look out for your financial well being, no one will.

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