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Bill Radke: If you have a credit card, then you have some new protections today — the Credit Card Accountability Act takes effect. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports it’s just the beginning of new rules on how credit card companies can charge fees and raise interest rates.
Mitchell Hartman: Here’s my Visa bill, and there’s an $11 charge for not paying in full last month. It’s due September 4th. So my bank is complying with one new rule: I get 21 days before they hit me with a late fee. Also, if they change the interest rate or fees, they have to give 45 days’ warning.
PEDRO MORILLAS: And not only that…
Pedro Morillas of the California Public Interest Research Group.
MORILLAS: If you say ‘I disagree with this increase in my interest rate,’ you have the option to cancel the card and set up a payment plan with them at the current rate.
Morillas says another big change happens in February. That’s when card companies have to alter how they calculate interest payments. They’ll also have to limit rate increases.
MORILLAS: They’re not going to be able to change your interest rate because you’re late on a payment to another credit card company.
These companies have already launched preemptive strikes on the new restrictions — hiking fees on things like cash advances, reducing credit limits, and canceling some cards altogether.
I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.
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