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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Credit is particularly important after a diagnosis. 

Credit cards are about a good deal more than the advertised interest rate and credit limit. Before you take a new card, also look at:

  • Fees such as sign-up, annual, participation and monthly maintenance fees.
  • What triggers a change in the interest rate.
  • Whether there are any introductory bonuses of cash, miles, lower interest rates or points. 

The features that may be particularly troublesome are likely to be in the fine print. It is advisable to take the time to read the fine print carefully - or ask a family member or friend to do it for you.

For a discussion about the following subjects, click on the link:

NOTE: If you recently completed bankruptcy or have bad credit, you can rebuild it using a secured credit card. Look for a card with low fees. Make payments on time for a year or more. Then apply for a regular credit card. To find secured cards, see offsite link

What To Look For When Checking A Credit Card Offer

When reviewing a credit card offer, consider the following:

What is the source of the offer?

Look to see whether the offer is for a bank card or a merchant card.

  • Although there may be references to VISA or MasterCard, it doesn't mean the offer is from a bank issuing those cards. The offer could be from an independent marketer.
  • Cards from merchants such as department stores or oil companies are generally only good with the issuing merchant.

If you have questions about a particular company, contact the Better Business Bureau at offsite link.

What is the credit limit?

Most offers are stated as "up to" a specific limit. That doesn't mean you will automatically qualify for the limit. Call the company and explain your credit history. If you have it, mention your credit score. (For information about credit scores, including how they are determined and how to get yours, click here.

How much is the interest?

Look at:

  • What is the interest rate?
  • Is the rate only a low introductory rate? If so:
    • When does it go up? 
    • To what rate?
  • When does interest start accruing? (in other words, when does the company start earning interest?)
  • Is there a separate rate for cash advances?
  • Is there a separate rate for balances you transfer to the account?
  • What happens to interest if you make a late payment?
  • Do you have to make a purchase each month to keep the interest rate?

What fees are there?

Is there:

  • An application or processing fee? (There are credit cards with no application or processing fees.)
  • An annual fee? (There are credit cards wiith no annual fee.)
  • A fee for transferring a balance to the card? A fee to transfer a balance from this card to another one?
  • A sign up fee? A participation fee? A monthly maintenance fee?

How much are the late fees? When do they start?

What is the minimum you can pay each month?

Given the unpredictability of health, there is no way to know when a financial crunch may appear suddenly. If the worst happens, what is the minimum you have to pay each month to keep your credit in tact?  (To learn how to deal with a financial crunch, click here.)

When is payment due?

Credit cards come with dates by which payment is due. Generally you can contact the credit card company and change the date to fit with when you are most likely to have the money to pay.

What happens if you charge more than your limit?

  • Although it seems logically that a credit card company will not let you charge more than your limit, most companies do allow this practice. In fact, they usually also charge a fee when you do. If so, how much is the fee?
  • If there is a late fee, does that count toward your limit? If so, if you are close to your credit limit, a late fee could push you over. 

Does the company offer credit life, disability and other credit insurance? 

While standard advice may be that credit insurance is too expensive, that advice applies to a person with no health history. Given your history, these insurance products can be very valuable.

With some credit card companies, credit insurance is only offered when a new account is opened, or if and when the company solicits new insurance business. Find out if these coverages are offered. If so, at what cost? To learn more, see Credit Insurance.

If reading the fine print is confusing, call the company and ask a customer service representative to explain it to you. If the opinion differs from what you've read, ask for the explanation to be sent to you in a letter.

What are the perks?

If any of the following perks are of interest to you, check to see if they are included in the credit card offer:

  • Points that you can use for (i) mileage on a particular or all airlines and/or (ii) for other purposes such as purchases
  • Cash back for each dollar you spend
  • Extended warranties on items you purchase with the credit card
  • Lowest price guarantee
  • Insurance for items with you in a hotel if you charge the hotel to your card
  • Luggage delay or loss - or even damage to your luggage
  • Avoid checked baggage fees
  • Free admissions (such as to museums)
  • Concierge services to help with restaurant reservations, travel arrangements  and getting tickets to events.
  • Medical assistance outside the U.S., including transportation to a medical facility and/or home

Don't leap into a new credit card without reading the next section.

What Should I Be Careful About With Respect To Credit Card Offers?

There are almost as many things to be careful of as there are individual card companies. Most importantly, never assume that because a card offer is somehow linked to a bank name it is reputable.

  • "Pre-approved" does not mean what you think it does. 
    • All those "pre-approved" applications you receive in the mail do not mean that if you sign on the dotted line, you automatically receive the credit card. 
    • If the offer sounds to be good to be true knowing your credit history, it probably is.
  • Look at the text and the fine print for:
    • Fees such as sign-up, annual, participation and monthly maintenance fees.
    • What triggers a change in the interest rate.
  • With reward cards:
    • Check to see how easy it is to redeem the rewards.
    • Consider your payment habits. If you do not  some banks take away a month's pointss if you miss a payment. They may charge you a reinstatemnt to get them back (which may be worth paying if you spent a lot that month). 
    • Be careful of reward cards linked to benefits like frequent flier mile programs. Reward cards typically impose an interest rate that is 1 percentage point higher than that of other comparable cards. Plus you may have to spend a lot before getting anything in return. And, if the reward is something like airplane rides, keep in mind how increasingly difficult it is to find reward seats on full airplanes.
  • Look out for "universal default provisions" in your credit card agreement. Universal default provisions means your card issuer can impose a higher rate on your account if you are late with a payment to another creditor.
  • Sometimes companies include a provision that they can apply your payments to the parts of your credit card debt with lower Annual Percentage Rate rather than the higher rate debt. For example cash advances usually have a higher rate than regular credit card charges. To keep the higher debt outstanding is in the best interest of the credit card company -- not yours.
  • When you receive a new card and accompanying paperwork, read the documents to be sure they say what you were told. If they don't, return the card -- without using it first.

NOTE: You can avoid late payments by arranging to have your bill automatically paid from your checking account. If you do, check each statement to assure that all the charges are yours.

Where To Find Credit Card Offers

A variety of web sites help you sort through available credit cards. For instance, consider: