Anyone who is or has been credit invisible understands the initial feeling of satisfaction that comes when you've qualified for and received your first credit card. It feels good, and it should! But you also have to temper it with some caution.
"Be sure to check your card agreement for fees and other restrictions."
Whether you're fresh out of a college or a hard-working professional who's just opened the creditor's envelope and activated the chip-equipped plastic inside, here's how to read the plethora of small-print language that's also included:
Fees and interest in the Schumer Box
Named for the still-serving U.S. Senator who lobbied for card companies to be upfront about major fees, the Schumer Box is in bold type atop the credit card agreement. Per NerdWallet, it contains: the annual percentage rate (for interest collected on purchases), transfer and foreign transaction APRs, the penalty APR and a note to visit the Federal Reserve's website for credit card tips.
There's more, just below Sen. Schumer's namesake: Annual and/or monthly fees, cash advance and foreign transaction fees (in addition to aforementioned APR), penalties for late payments or breaking your credit limit and potentially a returned-payment fee.
Scan the terms and conditions
This part of the credit card agreement is where the type gets darn near microscopic, but you have to read it closely. CreditCards.com noted that limits to bonus or cash-rewards programs are often found here, as well as other restrictions. However, these stipulations can also include details on warranty programs and fraud protections - which you definitely want - so it's not all legalese-cloaked doom and gloom.