credit cards

Card account changes abound

Tuesday, Feb. 9
Posted: 11 a.m.

Many of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act provisions go into effect on Feb. 22, but a new survey from Credit.com shows that issuers are still making unfavorable changes to existing credit card accounts. More than 43 percent of consumers surveyed in January 2010 reported at least one negative change to a credit card account.

More people reported seeing a negative adjustment to their account recently, when compared with the results of the June 2009 survey. The only area where cardholders did not see more negative changes was in lowered credit limits. According to the news release:

  • 11 percent saw their account closed (up from 6 percent in June 2009 survey).
  • 27 percent reported an increase to their interest rate (up from 19 percent in June 2009 survey).
  • 19 percent said their fees were raised (up from 14 percent in June 2009 survey).
  • 13 percent had their credit limits cut (down from 14 percent in June 2009 survey).
  • 15 percent felt a hike in their minimum payment percentage (up from 12 percent in June 2009 survey).
  • 11 percent had their rewards programs reduced (up from 9 percent in June 2009 survey).

The national telephone poll was conducted for Credit.com by GfK Custom Research North America from Jan. 29-31, 2010. The results are based on 1,000 interviews.

The Credit CARD Act does limit rate hikes and requires disclosure about new fees, but doesn't prevent most of these moves from taking place. It will be up to consumers to keep track of terms changes by reading their mail and reviewing their periodic statements.

If change didn't do you good

Unhappy with a recent adjustment to your account? If your account is now unusable due to the change -- say, a major credit limit crunch -- consider shopping around for a better card. Use our new balance transfer calculator to estimate the cost of moving debt to a new card.

Closing an account to retaliate can backfire in the form of a lower credit score. The reduction in available credit could ding your score temporarily and the account loss could eventually shorten your length of credit history.

For more information on how the law affects consumers, read Bankrate.com's 2010 Credit Card Guide.

Questions? Comments? E-mail plastic_rap@bankrate.com.

Read all of the Plastic Rap blog posts.

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