How to Get Back at Your Creditors


September 2021 Issue
Everyday Cheapskate by Mary Hunt

Late fees, punitive interest rates, over-limit fees, loading up your credit report with negative information—it’s enough to make you scream! It’s not that your creditors are doing anything illegal. You just didn’t understand the power you gave them when you accepted that credit card. It was buried in the fine print. And now, it seems like they’re staying up all night looking for new ways to stick it to you. If you’ve just about had enough, maybe it’s time for you to turn the tables and get back at them.


According to industry research organization R.K. Hammer, in 2016, credit card companies hauled in $163 billion, 30% of which was derived from annual fees, late fees, and over-limit fees. You’d think they would be pretty satisfied with all that interest you send them each month. But no. They want more. The days when issuers allowed 10 or 15 days for a payment to arrive after a due date before charging a fee are long gone. Now, those fees kick in if you’re even five minutes late, and can be as high as $39 per occurrence.

Get back at your credit card company by making the decision right now to never pay another dime in late fees. Be quick with your payment. Send it in the prepaid envelope that came with your statement—or pay online. Don’t enclose a note, use a paper clip, decorate it with stickers or do anything that will pull it out of the fast track and into manual processing.


Your credit card account most likely has a credit limit. But running up a balance that is anywhere near that limit is deadly for your credit score. The rule of thumb is that you should never be using more than 30% of your credit limit. For example, if your limit is $1,000, you should never have a balance of more than $300. Zero balance is even better!

Get back at your card company by creating a wide margin between your balance and your limit.


Your card companies are playing the odds. They know the more you use your cards, the better their chances that you’ll go nuts and rack up a big load of debt. When your balance becomes greater than the amount you can pay off in a single month, they’ve got you. They’re doing all they can to encourage that to happen.
Get back at your company by not adding new purchases to your burgeoning load of debt. You’ll do yourself a favor and get back at them at the same time.


All of your creditors know what’s in your credit report. They read it regularly. You should too. Part of your agreement with them is that they can check up on you whenever they like to see how you are handling your financial affairs.

Get back at your creditors by staying ahead of them. Manage your credit report by reading it regularly. You can get it for free at If you don’t understand what it says, ask. And if you see something on there that you know to be untrue, dispute. But don’t stop there. If your creditors are punishing you for things on your credit report that were not true, don’t sit back passively. Dispute those errors. Don’t back off until they reverse the action.


Probably nothing will benefit you more than bringing your balances to $0. It’s like getting a tax-free raise because you get to keep all of that money you’ve been sending each month to your creditors.

Get back at your creditors by refusing to send them one more penny in interest or penalty fees.

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living. © 2021

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