Several months ago, I took my own advice about how to choose a credit card and signed up for an American Express card from Costco. This is a business card and not a personal card. (I carry only one personal credit card.)

In early October, I complained that I wasn’t willing to activate the card until I had read and understood the enclosed agreement, which was the equivalent of 63 normal typewritten pages. Many readers have written to ask for a follow-up, but I haven’t been able to give one. I didn’t read the agreement until Christmas break.

It took me about an hour to work through the document. As far as I can tell — I’m only moderately proficient in that arcane language known as legalese — everything here is pretty standard except for one fee. Here’s the quote from the contract:

ATM Fee: We will impose a fee each time a Card is used to obtain cash or any other services from an ATM. This fee will be 3% of the amount of the cash withdrawn or other services obtained (including any additional fee imposed for use of the ATM by its operator), with a minimum of $5. This fee will be added to the Cash Advance balance.

Holy cats! A $5 minimum fee? I’ll never use that card in an ATM.

Fortunately, the other surprises in the contract were actually good. There’s a provision that says I’m not liable if I do business with a nearby company that tries to rip me off. The card automatically doubles warrantees (up to a year). It even includes some theft protection. These are things I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read the agreement.

I was satisfied with the contract, so I activated the card. But if I’d found anything that made me wary, I would have simply cut it up and then called the company to let them know I didn’t want the account. I admit that I shouldn’t have taken three months to do this, but the important thing is that it’s done.

Remember: nobody cares about your money more than you do. Always read any contract that you sign or agree to.

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