By now, since I’ve been a lazy beast, you’ve probably heard about the restrictions that the Senate passed last week on credit cards. It’s designed to stop the evil credit card empires from taking advantage of the poor, misguided public. Let’s have a look-see shall we?
According to my buddies at the MSN Moneycentral (love them!) the Truth in Lending Act will affect the following:
- Limited interest rate increases
- Kill universal default
- Highest interest balances paid first
- No more double-cycle billing
- Minimum payments payoff time spelled out
- More time to pay monthly bills
- Clearer due dates and times
- Limits on over-limit fees
- Subprime credit cards for people with bad credit
- Promotional rates
- Card for young adults
That means that we’re instantly saved from the credit card companies’ nasty ways of doing business aren’t we? I like the sound of all of that! But really, you have to know by now that there is ALWAYS a catch. Great credit card offers are becoming harder to find. Only 3 months ago I got notices in the mail every week from Discover offering a promotional balance transfer rate of 0% for one year. As of least week I see that they now say 6 months. Rewards cards are now raising the threshold for getting rewards or dropping programs altogether.
I love that the government likes to think of my financial well-being, but let’s all be honest here, we caused most of the problems that people have with credit cards ourselves. Yes, I’m admitting it. It’s my fault and it’s your fault too. We stopped looking at credit cards as what they are – open ended loans! We never read the fine print and were surprised when the credit card companies acted just like they said they would and charged us fees – some I will admit were just crazy (like raising your credit card interest rate because you missed or were late on a payment to another credit card from a totally different company).
Grab the bull by the horns and take responsibility for where you are with your credit cards and begin paying them off! That way, when the credit card company raises your rate from 10% to 18% like Bank of America just did to me, you can laugh and rip up the access checks since your balance is zero and you don’t use that card anyway since it’s for emergencies where you can’t access your emergency fund. Suckers!