Saturday, August 28, 2010

Final Rules Under The Credit CARD Act Provide Boost to Consumers

The final act of a three-part set of credit card reform rules is now in effect.
New rules go into effect to get rid of high fees and penalties on credit cards.

So what's the last installment of The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which took effect Aug. 19?

Less painful punishment

All penalties and fees must be reasonable and proportional to the violation for which the penalty was assessed. The good news here is that penalty fees, typically $39 will likely drop to $25 and there could be fewer of them, experts say.

A get out of jail card

The second big change is that credit card issuers now must re-evaluate, every six months, any interest rate increases they have made to see if factors have changed that warrant a reduction in the rate. So, if you do the right thing, like paying on time, you could resume paying your original, lower interest rate.

Some nasty loopholes remain though

While this sounds like good news for consumers, Nick Bourke, director of the Pew Health Group's Safe Credit Cards Project, says there is a huge loophole. "The Federal Reserve refused to regulate penalty interest rate charges. Consumers have a limited right to cure the penalty and return to their original rate. But if a penalty rate is imposed and you don't immediately pay on time and do so for six months, you may be faced with paying that higher rate forever," says Bourke.

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