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Credit Card Companies Responding to Legislation: Good and Bad News

Created: On July 21, 2010 @ 4:15 pm In

Consumers can have love-hate relationships with credit cards; they love the convenience and benefits offered by credit card companies, but paying high interest and fees makes it difficult to reduce credit card balances even when paying more than the minimum amount required each month.

Legislation designed to protect consumers is meeting with mixed reactions from credit card companies. Anxious to recoup losses associated with the new rules, some credit card companies are raising interest rates, increasing or imposing membership fees, and are reducing “niche” credit cards tied to retailers and services that reflect consumers’ interests and spending habits.

The economic downturn has caused some credit card issuers to slash credit lines and reduce or charge more for other financial services including checking and savings accounts. While consumers with good to excellent credit can negotiate with credit card issuers and financial institutions, consumers with fair or poor credit ratings may not be able to negotiate lower rates and fee waivers.

Good Credit? Here’s Some Good News

Effective debt management requires paying close attention to who and how much you owe. Credit card companies compete for business by offering low introductory rates to open a new account. These offers can also encourage transferring balances from your existing credit card accounts to your new credit card account. This can be a great way to reduce the cost of debt if:

  • You can pay off the debt transferred within the introductory period of no to low interest.
  • Transfer fees (typically 3 to 5% of each balance transferred) plus the introductory interest rate on the new credit card are significantly less than the annual percentage rate you’re paying on your credit card balances.
  • There are no membership fees or other fees that reduce your potential savings.
  • You can stop using credit cards once you’ve completed your balance transfers.

[1] Newsweek reports that some credit card issuers are lowering rates they charge during introductory periods and extending the length of the introductory periods, which can vary from six months to a year or more. This can help you pay off credit card balances at less cost.

Bad Credit? Consumer Credit Counseling and Debt Consolidation Programs Offer Solutions

[2] Credit counseling and debt consolidation services may be able to help if you cannot qualify for low cost balance transfer offers or debt consolidation loans. Credit counseling and debt consolidation services typically work with clients to find affordable solutions to repay credit card debt. This process requires reviewing your financial situation and determining how much you can afford to pay toward credit card debt.

Credit counselors can also help you design a cash based budget and negotiate the terms of your debt repayment plan with your creditors. These programs provide the added benefit of debt consolidation because you make one scheduled payment to your credit counseling service and they pay your creditors.

Article printed from DebtHelp.com Blog: http://www.debthelp.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.debthelp.com/blog/2010/07/21/credit-card-companies-responding-to-legislation-good-and-bad-news/

URLs in this post:
[1] Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/21/credit-card-changes-so-far-in-2010.html
[2] Credit counseling and debt consolidation: http://www.debthelp.com/debt-consolidation/credit-counseling.html