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What is up with the Credit Card industry?

Pete Brown - 04 April 2007

Last year, our credit card was bought by another large bank/credit card company. Today, they finally started to make some changes. As usual, those changes are not for the benefit of the consumer.

First hs a new minimum finance charge. You can opt out of that via mail (with a tight deadline for responding, of course), so we will.

The second one, for which your only recourse would be to dump the company, is a new Variable Payment Due Date:

"Your Payment Due Date may vary from billing cycle to billing cycle, based on such factors as your payment history. ... Make sure to check each monthly statement to determine its Payment Due Date and allow at least five to seven days for delivery by the U.S. Posal Service. Please take this into consideration if making arrangements for a bill payment service. It is very important that we receive each payment by the Payment Due Date. Failure to make a payment by the Payment Due Date is a default under the Credit Card Agreement. Late payments will likely result in late fees and the loss of promotional rates."

They also changed how they calculate late fees. It has been a very long time since I paid a late fee for anything, so I don't know what the change would mean, but I can't help but think that this, combined with the variable payment due date, is going to be very bad news for the people struggling to keep up with their debt. Switching the due date for payments on a statement-by-statement basis is absurd upping late fees at the same time is just a slap in their face.

It will also make setting my Outlook reminders an issue. I have Outlook set up to remind me at the end of every month to check the CC and make whatever payment may be necessary. With the new due date (which can vary by as much as 12 days according to their document), I'll have to deal with it more often than that. A real pain if you ask me.

With all the bad press and attention the credit card industry has received over the past couple years, and all the recent problems with people defaulting due to the sub-prime loans, you'd think that a credit card company would make an attempt to avoid looking like they're trying to outright screw the people who live in the credit and income margins.

Then again, maybe they're just trying to trip up those of us with low interest rates and great credit so they can eek more out of us. TBD.

posted by Pete Brown on Wednesday, April 4, 2007
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