Tuesday, Feb. 27
Posted 11:30 a.m. Eastern
A fee for not using a card?
Lloyds TSB, a large bank in the United Kingdom, announced on
Friday that it would begin charging cardholders who don't use
their cards much, or at all, 35 pounds per year for "low
usage." The bank sent letters to 50,000 customers announcing
the change, and the news was rocketed around the country by
My first reaction to that news was, if this bank does it, American
credit card issuers will, too.
My second reaction was, people who don't use their cards much
will just cancel their cards. But won't that negatively
affect their credit scores? We've always advocated paying
off credit cards and putting them in a drawer rather than canceling
them, because canceling cards does pull down one's credit score.
That's because it removes that amount from your total available
credit and might upset your ratio of available credit to used
credit, a key factor in determining one's credit score.
A closed account, however, remains on your credit history.
canceling a card, you should pull your credit reports and
get your score so that you can consider the impact one less
card will have.
At the Senate Banking Committee hearings last month, Michael
D. Donovan, a partner in the law firm Donovan Searles and an
advocate for consumers, suggested that credit card issuers charge
an annual fee to those who don't use their cards much or
who pay off their balances. This was to offset losses the companies
would have if they did away with certain fees for those who
carry large balances.
As one who pays her balance every month -- a "deadbeat,"
as the industry calls us -- I wouldn't want to pay an annual
fee because I handle credit responsibly. If that were to happen,
I imagine everyone who pays off the balance monthly would immediately
start using debit cards instead of credit cards.
Would you pay an annual fee for the use of a credit card, even
if you paid off your balance every month? Let us know what