Whom to tell when your credit card is about to expire
Q: One of my credit cards, a MasterCard, will shortly be reissued with a change in the annual expiration date. I have several monthly bills, including a membership fee with a gym, that are charged automatically to this card. Do I need to notify these creditors about the expiration-date change? The account number stays the same.
R.M., Scotch Plains, N.J.
A: According to Alex Lau, a spokesman for MasterCard, cardholders should report any changes in their cards, including changes in expiration dates, to merchants or creditors who have recurring charges. "This is to ensure that there is no interruption in services," he says.
If you make installment charges with other credit cards such as Visa or American Express, Mr. Lau recommends you check with those issuers to see if the rules are different.
Q: I am a college student. My Visa card expires in just a few weeks, but no replacement card has arrived. I'm concerned because I use the card for at least one monthly (recurring) charge. I asked my parents to check with the bank. The bank refused to talk to either of them. What do I do to make certain I get the replacement card?
G.D., New York
A: We called several banks in the New York area who told us that they generally will not provide private financial information to noncardholders, even if they are relatives. Contact the card's issuer yourself and tell them that your replacement card has not arrived.
Q: I am in my 50s. My coworkers tell me I should have catastrophic health insurance. Is there a salary or net-worth range you should be in to make the cost of catastrophic insurance affordable and necessary?
J.S., Queens, N.Y.
A: Regardless of salary or net worth, catastrophic insurance may be unnecessary as long as you have regular health insurance through your employer, says Randy Clerihue, communications director with the Health Insurance Association of America in Washington.
Find out the lifetime cap on claims against your health insurance, Mr. Clerihue says, For most people, it's around $1 million. "Few persons ever [have enough medical bills to] reach that cap," he says, "If your cap is low, say $500,000 or less, or you are near your cap, you might want to consider catastrophic insurance."
Finally, if you don't have health insurance, consider buying a catastrophic policy to protect your assets. "Use the highest possible deductible," Clerihue says.