If you have a Citibank or Chase credit card, you’ve probably gotten one of these checks in the mail like I just did:
It sounds too good to be true, someone just sent you a $20 check for trying out some insurance? Sure! You know these people are just hoping you forget and start paying these random fees for who knows how long. I’m very paranoid about these things, but I also love free money. I’ve definitely cleared more than $100 on these checks. So here’s my standard procedure when I get one of these things to minimize time and worry.
1. I only do this for cards that have no balance and are in my safebox. This way, I know if I get a bill there’s something up. You don’t have to search for a random charge hidden in your purchases.
2. Make sure you understand what you are getting, whether it is for a free trial where you don’t pay for a full month, or get a full refund if you cancel in 30 days. Some of these news ones just give you the check for signing up, but you have to pay the fees no matter what.
3. Make sure the insurance is something like 69 cents for each $100 in balance, etc. In other words, make sure that No Balance = No Fees.
4. Including the cancellation phone number and the date that you cash the check, schedule the following for 14 days out:
- PDA or Outlook Reminder (if you use these)
- E-mail or text msg reminder from Yahoo or Google Calendar (free).
- Post-It Note. This is bad for me deadline-wise, but at least I know I’ll run across it again sooner or later.
5. When you get one of these reminders, call them! If they offer you some more stuff, you can decide whether it’s worth your time. I usually extend it if I don’t plan on using my card again for a long time (Remember, no balance = no fees). Re-schedule reminders as needed. So far, I haven’t paid any fees yet. I probably would have if I did the trial for cards that I actually use, though. Reminder, they are counting on you to forget!
p.s. No, the insurance isn’t worth it.
By Jonathan Ping | Credit Cards | 9/1/05, 3:32pm