Living with credit, Protecting yourself

A convenience check truth: They’re dangerous

Daniel Ray

I’ve noticed that my credit card issuers lately have filled my mailbox with a lot of those “convenience checks” that let you borrow against your card’s credit limit. You’ve probably noticed it, too: They hope to tempt us into using that credit line to spend a lot on the holidays.

So here’s a holiday reminder: These are nearly always a bad financial choice. If you spend one, it’s treated as a cash advance, so it has no grace period; interest is charged from the moment it’s used. The checks themselves invite identity theft, since each one is just like a credit card being sent in the mail.

Oh, and that reminds me of one more thing: These days, shredders make a very thoughtful gift.


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  • casey

    I hate those “convenience checks.” I tried to get my credit card company to stop sending them to me, but twas to no avail. Instead, I’ll opt for the “paperless” bill, which means I just get a PDF of the bill (and of the convenience checks).
    Also – mail theft is one of the least common means of identity theft (The FTC reported that only four percent of victims cited stolen mail as the source of personal information)… though I suppose one can never be too careful.

  • Dan Ray

    Very true — it’s not all that common, percentage-wise.
    But let’s have some fun with math, shall we?
    In November, the FTC came out with its latest identity theft study. It says that 3.2 million Americans suffered a misuse of their existing credit card accounts. Four percent of 3.2 million is 128,000 people.
    That’s the population of the city of Fort Collins, Colo.