New Credit Card Rules Cap Frustrating Fees

August 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Business owner Erik Beauvais says he’s always tried to pay off his credit card bill in full every month, smart spending helped him save money to open his own chiropractic studio, Hub City Health Studio in Spartanburg a few months ago.

But even this responsible consumer has had a bone to pick with credit card companies.

“They were going to drop me if I didn’t use it every so often, so that wasn’t too cool,” said Beauvais, who closed the account himself.

Now people like Beauvais won’t have to make that choice. New rules under the card act will stop companies from charging inactivity fees after August 22nd.

An even bigger savings to people who are hit with late payments is a cap on late fees.

Today your late payment fee may be about $40 whether you owe a $20 minimum payment, or a solid $100. But starting Sunday, that will be capped at $25.

The cap is increased to $35 dollars only if the card user has been late within the last 6 months.

Mark Pruett, an Associate Professor of Management at USC Upstate’s Johnson College of Business and Economics is quick to warn consumers that a cap on fees doesn’t solve the core problem, consumers spending too much.

But he is pleased to see another new rule that stops double charging..

“I think the biggest benefit for consumers is that the multiple charges will go away, you will no longer get a late fee and an over-limit fee for the same transaction,” said Pruett.

Still he adds, these changes mean less money for credit card companies and warns they may devise new ways to make a buck of our plastic spending habits in years to come.

With all the changes, consumer advocates recommend you pay extra close attention to your statement this coming month. You’ll likely notice some new inserts and it’s a good idea to read them.

Here’s a few more changes you’ll see starting August 22nd:

  • The company must explain any increase in the card’s annual percentage rate.
  • If that APR is raised, the credit card company must re-evaluate the increase every six months and reduce the rate if your payments are back on track.
  • And if a charge exceeds the account’s credit line, credit card companies can no longer charge an over the limit fee that is larger than that amount.

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