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Credit card gripes still rife

By Janna Herron ·
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

Consumers still have beef with credit cards despite sweeping changes from new regulations.

The Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators last week released a survey that outlined the top 10 consumer complaints last year. Credit and debt, including credit cards, ranked No. 2.

Auto complaints took the top spot.

What's interesting is that credit card gripes appeared so high in the year that many parts of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 went into effect. The act was designed to clean up credit card practices that had been commonplace, such as double-cycle billing and universal default on existing balances.

Maybe there's more to be done.

One consumer (who sounded the alarm to the New York Consumer Protection Board, or NYCPB) said he used 75,000 points on his American Express credit card to buy a Quantas Airlines flight. Because of a health issue, he canceled his trip, but American Express wouldn't refund his points. He noted that the company's fine print didn't state that a trip cancellation due to a medical emergency would mean forfeiture of points.

The good news? The NYCPB was able to get his points back. The lesson? Check your credit card issuer's cancellation policies beforehand and consider buying trip insurance, the survey authors recommended.

Other credit card complaints didn't involve the actual issuers and instead revolved around firms that promised to resolve credit card debt for an upfront fee, but failed to provide the services. In those incidents, consumers lost money to pay for the fee, but still were saddled with credit card debt.

If you're struggling with any kind of debt, seek out a reputable, nonprofit credit, debt or housing counseling service through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at or toll free at 1-800-388-2227.

In case you were wondering, here's a rundown for the rest of the top 10:

3. (tie) Home improvement/Construction
3. (tie) Retail sales
4. Utilities
5. Services
6. Internet sales
7. Household goods
8. Landlord/Tenant
9. Fraud
10. Home solicitations

The CFA, NACAA and NACPI surveyed more than 252,000 consumer complaints from 31 agencies in 18 states.

What are your biggest consumer complaints? I'd love to hear them.

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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