Aug 19, 2009
It seems that Americans who worked hard to maintain good credit will be the first hit when the Credit Card Act of 2009 becomes effective tomorrow. Already, lenders are increasing interest rates across the board. The lowest available rate is now currently pegged at 11.25 percent which is significantly higher from 8.85 percent just this January. Meanwhile, customers with less-than-stellar rating have to pay 15.75 percent, up from 13.75 last January.
According to experts, banks are setting the rates this high so they can go down from there depending on market situations in the future. Fortunately, these rates increases would no longer come as a shock to consumers. Congress has given them a leeway of 45 days to reject rate increases. Americans have the choice of paying outstanding balances at current rates in a five-year timeframe. In addition, banks need to mail credit card bills 21 days before it is due.
Various parts of the credit card law are already implemented. For example, fourteen banks have dropped double-cycle billing, where finance charges are calculated on more than a single billing cycle. Meanwhile, eleven major banks have stopped the “universal default” practice wherein rates are rates because of missed payments even with another company.
What is the Catch?
The catch of the Credit Card Law is quite apparent: increased interest rates. Eleni Constantine, the director of Pew Charitable Trusts said that it has in fact increased by 20 percent from December. While increase might seem reasonable, the level at which it was increased certainly isn’t. The borrowing costs for banks are decreasing because of market condition. By raising the rates on consumers simultaneously, they are actually deriving more profits due to larger marginal lending rates.
Overall, the gains in the new Credit Card law are certainly welcome despite certain complications. However, it is important to keep in mind that it has been designed to help consumers with high balances. People with relatively good credit should be aware of these changes and decide whether they still want to use their credit cards or pay in cash instead.
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