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New Credit Card Laws – New Details

It is no secret that the new credit card legislation will have a drastic effect on how banks and other financial institutions operate their business. The changes on your account can be likened as a double-edged sword. On one hand, certain changes can help you manage debt easier and attain debt management help. On the other hand, the new laws may also be confusing to consumers who are used to seeing the same charges on their bill every single month. To help you better manage your credit card charges; below are specific changes that had been implanted:

Interest Rate – in many banks, the annual percentage rate (APR) on existing balances will not increase if you pay late or exceed the credit limit. It will only increase if to the default rate if you fail to pay for the new transactions when it is due. It is also important to take note that consumers are encouraged to review their account periodically to determine if their APR should be lower than it is.

Grace Period – the grace period for repayment is more generous with the passing of the new credit card legislation. It can potentially help you reduce the amount of finance charges you need to pay. In addition, overlimit fee will no longer be charged. Be sure to check the terms of your card for further details.

Payments – the amount you pay in excess of the minimum payment due will now be applied to the highest APR balance first. This is a welcome change from previous practices because it helps you pay off high APR balances a lot sooner.

Payment Processing Time – another important change to the new bill has to do with the payment processing time. Mailed payments can now be processed on the same day as long as the banks receive it before their cut-off time.

Credit Card Reform – New Law Effective Tomorrow

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.

Credit Card Act of 2009 – The Effects

Last May 22, 2009, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 was put into effect. Otherwise known as the Credit Card Act of 2009, this law was put into place to stop banks from taking advantage of consumers. It is basically designed to end the days of “unfair rate hikes and hidden fees.” Unfortunately, the actual effect of this law was not exactly what the President and Congress have hoped for.

Since it was signed into law, the big banks have thought of innovative ways to get around it. Major credit card insurers significantly revised their terms and conditions of use. Numerous consumers reported that instead of going down, some companies have even raised their fees, increased their interest rates, and restricted credit card benefits in anticipation of the Credit Card Act going into full effect.

For example, Chase has increased the minimum required payment to 5 percent from 2 percent. Meanwhile, other card companies have increased the balance transfer fees to 5 percent though it used to be offered for free in the past. In addition, credit card limits continue to go down while interest rates continue to climb. All these raise a crucial question – how did a law that was designed to protect the consumers have an opposite effect?

There are two issues in the provision we should look into:

Interest Rate Hikes – the new law significantly hinders the ability of card companies to increase their interest rates on outstanding balances. There are only three circumstances in which the balances can be increased: (1) when introductory rate ends, (2) minimum payment remains unpaid 60 days after the due date, (3) and when the underlying index that was used to determine the interest rate changes (variable rate).

Given this, it comes as no surprise that credit card companies would take advantage of the loophole extended to them in the system. Fixed rate credit cards are now becoming outdated as card issuers try to minimize their risk. Variable rates will insulate their portfolio from unnecessary risks while ensuring their continual profitability.

Balance Transfer – there are currently a lot of no-interest balance transfer offers in the market today. But the new law changed all that. Previously, when a consumer makes purchases at regular interest, his payments above the minimum are allotted to the no-interest balance transfer. As a result, consumers will actually pay interest on his purchases (those with regular interest) until the whole balance is paid.

From a policy point of view, the Credit Card Act is good because it requires excess payments to be allocated to the loan with highest interest rates. But consumers are actually paying a steep price for this now because the introductory 0 percent offer is no longer offered as widely as it once was. And the balance transfer fees have steeply gone up.

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