We have all seen the movies where the bad guy pulls out a contract that is a mile long and filled with pages of fine print. The person signs away without looking and next thing you know he’s sold his soul or given someone their house.

It just goes to show that the old adage “always read the fine print” is just as true today as it ever was. When companies provide you with a loan or credit card agreement, the main contract has all of the required stipulations, but at the very bottom is “the fine print.”

It contains the entire business details that the loan company doesn’t want you to see. Most people simply overlook the fine print and sign the contract. Once this happens, you are legally bound by the restrictions of the contract.

Unless the fine print contains stipulations that are illegal, you are going to have to honor the contract terms even if you find out later the fine print creates a problem.

Hidden Fees

One of the most common subjects of a contract’s fine print is about hidden fees. The main area of the contract will go over your loan amount or credit amount, payment dates, etc., but companies often leave the fees associated with the account for the fine print.

It may contain the over the limit fees for the account, late payment charges, transaction fees, processing fees and other fees that you may not be thinking about when you get the contract. No one intends to be late on their payment or plans on going over the limit, but it happens and the fine print will tell you how much it’s going to cost you.

Other Trivial Details

The fine print can contain almost anything. You may think you’re getting a credit card with a great rate, but the fine print says it’s only for six months. It could contain a clause that allows the credit card company to up your interest rate if you are late on a payment.

You can protect yourself by simply taking a careful look at the contract before you sign it. By law, the loan and credit card companies are required to disclose any and all fees and clauses that can have an effect on your account.

If you just take an extra five or ten minutes to sit and read through the fine print, then you can make sure that you won’t be taken advantage of. If you are working with a loan company face-to-face, then you can ask questions and see if the contract can be changed if you’re not comfortable with the terms.

In the event that you can’t talk to someone or they are unwilling to budge on the terms of the contract, then you can either refuse to sign and be no worse off or sign and at least know that you are aware of all aspects of the contract.