Credit and Debit
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A couple of years ago, Congress passed an act to make credit card companies behave more responsibly in the manner in which they treat people; to make sure they don’t deceive them about rates and fees, to give them plenty of notice about upcoming rate changes, and to fully disclose terms…

In other words, to make sure that they don’t trick people. Because so many Americans have gotten in over their head with credit card debt—whether it’s from being clueless about credit cards, an irresponsible spender, or jobless—card issuers have to do certain things to help customers clearly understand the terms of their cards… like:

• Make sure people’s statements include certain things like late payment warnings or how many years it’ll take to pay off a balance if you only pay the minimum payment, or show the different interest rates they charge for different things (cash advances cost the most).

• Clearly notifying customers before they raise a card’s interest rate due to over-the-limit status.

• Or when Sally Spendheavy stopped paying her credit card payment because she lost her job and the bank raised her interest rate to 29.99%, they had to wait more than just the few days they used to wait before to hiking it on up.

Ms. Spendheavy has $11 grand in credit card debt and her rate before the increase was 18%. The hike will cost her an extra $125 a month in interest. No more dinner and a movie for her.

According to this new law, your rate can’t be hiked for a year after you get your card, unless you…

• Have a variable rate (an interest rate that goes up and down following a major published rate like the prime, which is bank’s best rate for its best customers)

• Have an introductory rate (which must last at least six months)

• Are 60 days late paying your bill

Here’s some fine print: your rate can go up at any time after the first year.

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