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Issuers ignore fee limit

By Leslie McFadden ·
Monday, February 21, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Ever paid a fee to make a payment on one of your credit cards? In years past, card issuers could charge a fee for the payment method used by the consumer.

The Credit CARD Act, short for the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, seemingly banned most pay-to-pay fees, whether the consumer made a payment by mail, electronic transfer, telephone or other means. The law states that an issuer can still charge you if the payment "involves an expedited service by a service representative of the creditor." That is, you'll only pay when rushing a payment to avoid a late fee.

There is no dollar limit on the fee. There are also no specific guidelines as to what constitutes expedited service.

After doing some research, one of our market analysts told me that some of the top 50 credit card issuers are skirting this fee limitation. Some issuers are charging a fee for any agent-assisted payments made over the phone. One bank charges for same-day processing, whether the customer is making the payment over the phone or internet.

How to protect yourself

  • If available, use the automated phone service instead of a live representative. Or pay online.
  • Don't procrastinate. The bank may charge for same-day posts, or even payments that are made within two days of the due date.
  • Complain. Ask for a supervisor if you believe the issuer is wrongly imposing a payment fee. If you can't resolve the issue, you may contact the regulatory agency that oversees your issuer. Once it's up and running, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will handle consumer complaints about credit cards.

Have a question about the Credit CARD Act? Submit your query here and select "Credit Cards" as the subject.

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February 22, 2011 at 3:20 am

Issuers are ignoring whatever part of the Credit CARD Act they want. An issuer named Ch*s* ignored the rule for applying payments to the highest interest balance first. I contacted them multiple times and they repeatedly blew me off. The Act has no effect unless there is some real enforcement.