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Fed News   Fed announcement: June 24, 2009
  While rates haven't changed, will the Federal Reserve's  
  Open Market Committee use other means to boost the economy?  
Winners and losers

Credit cards
 

When the Federal Reserve meets, we all have questions: What does it mean to me? Is my credit card company going to sock me with another rate increase? Bankrate is here to help. We've looked at five categories -- mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, credit cards and certificates of deposit -- to determine if the Fed's moves made you a winner or a loser. Here's a look at credit cards:

 Winner: Credit card debtors

The Federal Open Market Committee chopped the benchmark federal funds target rate at least 75 basis points. As a result, the prime rate will sink to a low not seen since the 1950s.

Most variable-rate cards are tied to the movement of the prime rate. A lower prime rate could spell good news for credit card shoppers. "Anytime the Fed takes a cut like that, it should have a positive effect on the advertised rates for variable-rate cards," says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com.

While some rates could come down on variable-rate card offers, existing variable-rate cardholders may or may not see their rate decrease. It depends on your credit and the terms of your account, as well as how the bank is managing its card portfolio. "I would suspect that the vast majority of folks out there are not going to see the benefit. You're still going to see a significant number of consumers that will benefit, but I think most won't," says Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com and author of "How You Can Profit from Credit Cards."

Arnold says that if your card is still pegged to the prime rate, if it doesn't have a floor and if the issuer hasn't switched you to a fixed-rate product, then you might see your APR decrease. He cautions, however, that any rate decrease may be short-lived if your risk changes. Banks are lowering limits, raising rates, closing accounts and applying fees to those deemed high risk or unprofitable.

 Take action

Bring up your credit score to keep lenders at bay. Reduce debt, send payments on time and use sock-drawer cards every six months to keep the accounts open. Avoid closing accounts unless they present a spending temptation or charge fees. Canceling a card will never raise your credit score.

Read more about who wins or loses by clicking on the tabs at the top of this story.

-- Posted: Dec. 16, 2008
 

 RESOURCES
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