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Credit cards ramp up on rate hikes

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Scott Jagow: Here in the U.S., Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has made it clear he may have to lower interest rates again to get banks lending and people spending. The only problem is that credit card companies are kind of working against that. They've launched a new wave of rate and fee hikes this holiday season. Here's Jill Barshay.


Jill Barshay: Many credit card customers have received notices this week that read more like "Bah Humbug" than "Happy Holidays." Some cards have boosted finance charges, cut the number days to pay your bill, and increased late fees.

Michelle Grabow: We saw American Express increase some of their rates significantly.

That's Michelle Grabow of Informa Research Services. She tracks credit card rates around the country. She says this is only the beginning.

Grabow: We're hearing international transaction fees could be going up.

Marc Sacher is managing director at Auriemma Consulting Group. He says banks are scratching their heads over how to make money from credit cards in these troubled times.

Marc Sacher: It's the fact that credit loss rates are so high these days. They need to find a way of offsetting those losses with increased revenue.

Sacher says banks are also under pressure from regulators to reduce their risks. That means banks may get stingier with your credit limit this holiday season.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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