Credit Glossary

Annual Fee
This fee is charged once a year for maintaining an account with the issuing bank and for special services.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
This is an annual amount used to compute the finance charge on an outstanding balance.

Available Credit
Available credit simply means the amount of unused credit available to a user. Subtract the outstanding balance from the total credit line to compute this amount.

The credit card balance is the outstanding amount of money owed to an issuer.

Billing Cycle
The billing cycle is the number of days within a billing period. It includes the day after the previous close date through the current closing date of the account.

Cardholder Agreement
The cardholder agreement contains the terms and conditions of your credit card account and includes important information such as the rate, fees, and other cost information associated with your credit card.

Cash Advance Fee
Credit cards allow you to obtain cash but this comes with a costly fee since there is no grace period with it, plus the interest accrues (usually 2-5%) the minute the money is withdrawn.

Credit is money which a lender gives to a borrower on the condition of repayment over a certain period of time.

Credit Bureau
A credit bureau is an agency that checks credit information and keeps files on people who apply for and use credit. They legally produce a credit report — a record of a consumer’s debt and bill paying behavior — which is provided to lenders and other institutions.

Credit Line
A credit line or credit limit is the maximum amount of money you can borrow using your credit card. If you exceed this amount, a fee may be imposed for going beyond your credit limit.

Credit Score
The credit score or credit rating is a numeric summary of your credit report. Lenders use it to measure your risk and determine whether they can trust you with a loan.

Finance Charge
The finance charge (also known as interest) is the fee given to a lender for borrowing money. These fees may be imposed when you do not pay off your outstanding balance in full.

Grace Period
A grace period is the time between the date of the credit card billing statement and the date that the full payment must be received before interest begins to accrue on new purchases.

Interest Rate
The interest rate is the percent, charged per unit of time, that a bank charges a customer for borrowing money. See Annual Percentage Rate (APR).

Introductory Rates
Credit cards may offer lower introductory Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) as promotional offers. However, after a specified period, the rate will usually go back up to the standard rate. Read the credit card’s terms and conditions so you know how long the introductory rate will last and what the standard rate will be at the end of the promo period.

An issuer is a financial institution or bank that issues credit cards to customers such as Visa or MasterCard.

Minimum Monthly Payment
The minimum monthly payment is a dollar amount that must be paid each month to prevent a credit card account from being delinquent. The amount is based on a percentage of your outstanding balance or a minimum fixed amount.

A PIN is a Personal Identification Number — a secret number customers can use to access their accounts using ATMs.

Secured Credit Card
This is a credit card requiring a user to pledge or deposit collateral into an account to receive credit.

Unsecured Credit Card
This is a credit card that is not secured with collateral. Customers can qualify for unsecured credit cards if their credit rating is high and their credit history shows responsible payments.

General Disclaimer: The articles on this website are for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.

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