smart spending

Give thanks for these consumer tools

Credit card bills: more time, more convenience, lower fees
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Credit card bills

Tool: Card issuers must allow at least 21 days between mailing your bill and the due date, thanks to provisions of the Credit CARD Act.

What it does: "You now get enough time to pay your credit card bill," says Hillebrand.

And that bill must be due on the same day every month. "They can't move it around," she says.

The act also limits late fees. Fees can't exceed the minimum payment, and unless the issuer can demonstrate that assessing fees is excessively costly, fees are limited to $25. A second fee within six months could go to $35.

How to use: Make sure card companies are following the rules. And call them -- and their regulators -- if they aren't.

Get the most out of it by: The same rules allow you to select your recurring due date. Set it for a time of the month when you know you'll have the cash to pay that balance.

Why consumers are thankful: A set due date, control over that due date and a reasonable billing period gives consumers more power to successfully manage card bills.




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