Banks Start Charging Fees for Paper Credit Statements

Despite recent credit card reform, credit card companies aren't giving up all their tricks.

If you're anything like most Americans, you've probably been receiving a glut of mail from credit issuers in recent months - most of it notifying you of rather big term changes like higher interest and steeper penalties for exceeding your credit limit. But if you look at these notices carefully, you might notice another seemingly insignificant fee - a $1 or $2 charge for receiving paper statements.

At first glance, it might not seem like much. But if this indicates a new trend, we could end up paying $12-24 - or more - a year for each credit card, just for receiving statements the way we've always done. With many of us still struggling to make ends meet, we'd be better off switching to paperless statements and electronic payment.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. We'll save the price of a stamp, while banks will save the cost of buying paper and printing statements. But going paperless does require a little extra work.

First you'll need to set up an online banking account - luckily, most banks offer free online banking. Then you'll link your checking account to each of your credit cards. You will need to notify your credit card issuers that you want paper statements to be turned off - when you go paperless, they should start sending you electronic statements via e-mail.

Sometimes it can be easy to miss statements if you receive a lot of other e-mails. If you find it's a problem, consider setting up an e-mail account just for banking or - even easier - setting up automatic payment for your bills each month. Of course, this requires that you keep enough in your bank account to cover what you're spending.

Worried online banking sounds like too much work? Your best bet is to simply stop relying so much on credit. Save the cards for emergencies and use cash instead - you'll cut back monthly bills and interest. That said, giving up credit might not feel like an option if you're drowning in debt. When most of your paycheck goes to pay creditors, it's easy to get in the habit of using credit - i.e., money you don't really have - to pay for the other bills, driving you further into debt.

Fortunately, there's a way to break the cycle - bankruptcy. A bankruptcy plan can help you pay down debt affordably while also protecting your from actions like foreclosure and lawsuit. Find out more with a free one-on-one debt analysis with a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. Because the best form of credit card bill is no bill at all.

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