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Tricky Credit Card Fees

When the Credit Card Act of 2009 was introduced, the consumers hoped that this will be the end of abusive practices. But with credit card companies the way they are, it seems like clients were too optimistic. Today, consumers should only look at their latest credit card statements to know that they’ve been had, again. Bank and other card issuers have created new ways to collect millions from users. They have also expanded the fees and coverage to squeeze every penny from credit card users.

According to Joshua Frank from the Center for Responsible Lending, “Credit card issuers are going to more than ever try to find ways to make extra profits”. A lot of changes were made in the way charges were calculated. All this resulted to a burgeoning balance in the cardholder’s account. Meanwhile, other abusive practices were also put into place even before the Act was passed as a result of the recession. If there’s one ting they have in common, it’s that none are “explicitly prohibited by the Credit Card Act.”

Changes to be Aware Of:

Hidden Rate Adjustments

Cardholders with fixed-rate card need not worry. But variable rate cardholders, which majority of the market is comprised of, should be cautious. Previously, the charges were pretty straightforward. Card issuers will choose the highest prime rate in the current cycle as the starting point. Now, they have changed the terms so they can select the highest rate in a 90-day cycle. This will cost cardholders $720 million per year.

New Fees and Expanded Charges

Rate changes are not the only tricks that interests credit card companies. They also found a loophole in charging penalty fees. Some of these so-called “penalty” fees are so extreme, it looks silly. Except that you won’t be laughing when you’re the one hit with these charges. Some of the fees you need to look into carefully these days include the late fee, minimum finance charge, inactivity fee, and cash advance fee.

More Taxes in the Pipeline

As if life wasn’t hard enough, legislators now want to charge Americans what else but more taxes. A nationwide tax on all goods and services is being considered to plug the runaway federal deficit. The war in Afghanistan, bank bail-outs, and even the aid to many third-world partners are definitely taking its toll. The question is, would it be right to impose taxes on individuals who have nothing to do with the deficit anyway?

Many members of Congress want to junk the proposal, preferring to cut back on spending or impose higher taxes on the rich. The former might be the best idea. Taxing the rich might sound attractive to some but it might not be good over the long term. It will pull the upper class downward instead of lifting up the poor and the lower middle-class to achieve equity in the economy.

But while it is easy to say that it is just not right to impose additional taxes on struggling Americans who are already dealing with a tough labor market and health care costs, it might be inevitable. Bad decision making has made it necessary. According to Charles McLure who worked for the Reagan administration, “We have to start paying our bills eventually.”

The favored tax route is the value-added tax (VAT). Currently, the US system uses the sales tax wherein only the final product or service is taxed. The VAT system will impose taxes on every step on the production chain. Though this system works well in many other countries, it might erode US competitiveness further because it will drive the prices of everything upwards.

The current system should generate enough revenue to sustain the economy but it doesn’t. Curbing unnecessary expenses might provide is important because it will improve the economy without eroding the country’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. However, with the problems today and with the cost of US health care being sky high, it might no longer be enough.

Among the legislators who invoked the VAT system include Nancy Pelosi, John Podesta, and two former Fed Chairmen: Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan. Their decision might be right given the current conditions but it wouldn’t have been necessary if legislators and regulators haven’t made such as mess of things in the first place. Why should Americans have to pay?

High Credit Card Rates before the Holidays

Just when you thought things cannot get worse, it did. Millions of Americans who are already struggling with the economic downturn and credit card debt have received notice that their credit card companies are raising interest rates – just in time for the holiday season. Many have seen their rates doubling, some even tripling. Cash-strapped individuals are looking at more debts ahead.

The situation is worse for certain individuals. Those who are used to longtime fixed rate will see their interest rates soar to double-digits because of the shift to variable rates. Most of the activities such as giving consumers lower credit limit, interest rate hikes, and the increase in minimum monthly due are tied to the new federal policies set to start in late February. These measures will hinder banks from continuing their predatory practices.

As a result, the trend these days pose very little options to the ordinary consumers. According to customer surveys, consumers are now faced with unpleasant alternatives ranging from closing accounts to accepting tight credit terms. Rasmussen Reports conducted a survey which also revealed that around 50 percent of its respondents experienced rate hikes in the last six months.

At a time when banks are seen as the villain, these measures are greeted with censure. The legislative director of Consumer Federation of America said that “It seems like they’re hurting the customers they need the most.” Right now, the industry has already lost the trust of clients but they are still coming up with tricks to milk more money from struggling clients.

One method that was uncovered includes making notices of interest-rate hikes look like junk mail. Their purpose is to encourage consumers to throw these letters out without reading them. Everyone is affected by the current trend – whether you have a poor credit rating or the highest.

Credit History and How It Affects You: Weekly Round-Up

A lot of people make financial mistakes that they wish they never committed. However, making unwise decision is a fact of life and individuals need to deal with the consequences of their action. Financial mistakes are usually reflected in a person’s credit history. It will enable them to take loans from banks and other institutions at a reasonable price.

Financial know-how should start when a person is quite young. The problem is, young people usually don’t know what their getting into when it comes to spending. That’s the reason why there is a recently passed policy that stops credit card companies from issuing cards to individuals below 21 years of age or until they can show proof of income. Young people with co-signers who can vouch for them can also apply for a credit card. In this week’s weekly round-up, we compiled a list of blogs that talks about the new regulation, provides tips on how to start your credit history right, and how to fix the financial mess you got yourself into:

Mary @ Mint Life updated readers about what’s happening in the credit scoring industry in the blog post “Reading, Writing, and…Credit Scoring?” The article is focused on helping kids develop their financial sensibilities to make better choices in the future. Aspects of money management for kids such as opening a savings account are discussed. In addition, kids today face more challenges because of the financial crisis so their credit score is more important than ever.

Ryan @ The Better Credit Blog wrote an article titled “10 Ways to Get the Upper Hand When Dealing with a Debt Collector”. It is a fact that most people experience being at the end of the phone line when a debt collector is calling. This situation is difficult for most people and this article talks about the issues people need to deal with. For one, collectors are trained to play with your feelings and emotions. Look at the call at this light to get an upper hand.

Finally, Ilyce from Think Glink posted the article “Credit Reporting Agencies and Your Debts”. It basically sums up how credit reporting agencies come up with your credit score. It is written in a Q&A format and provides some relevant information for readers.