Monday, November 9, 2009

Out Of Control Credit Card Rates Add To Consumer Woes

It is bad enough that millions of Americans are out of work or employed in lower paying jobs, struggling to make bill payments. A number of credit card companies are adding salt to the wound by charging exorbitant interest rates on outstanding balances. In fact, they are beginning to take on loan sharking characteristics by charging as much as 36% to customers, as well as doubling the minimum monthly payment required to avoid penalties, making payments nearly impossible for some people.

Although President Obama signed a new law last May for credit card reform, the companies are making every possible effort to maintain their bottom line income. Under the new law, issuers will be curtailed from raising rates on existing
balances. However, customers are seeing new annual fees and inactivity charges that were not imposed before. At Bank of America, some clients were told that their no-fee credit cards would be subject to a new annual fee. At Chase, some clients must pay 5% of their monthly balance as a minimum payment - up from 2%. That translates to a 150% increase!

With other negative changes such as diminished rewards programs and shrinking credit limits, along with a record number of bankruptcies and declining buying power, the vice has tightened yet another notch to squeeze the American consumer by choking off the credit lifeline.

C. Cohn


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