Makin' Money

The credit card sky isn’t falling

Chris Farrell May 10, 2011

Remember the dire threats by bankers and their lobbyists about how credit card reform would harm consumers? We were repeatedly warned that the high cost of regulation would cost banks revenue and force them to raise rates and fees on their customers.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act was passed almost two years ago. The folks at Pew research wanted to see what has been the effect of the legislation on cardholders. The researchers compared credit card solicitations from January 2011 to those from previous years.

Here’s what they found:

Interest rates have held steady.
Penalties cost less.
Overlimit penalty fees have become increasingly rare.
Annual fees and other charges have changed little.

It sure looks like the reformers were right. The consumer came out ahead with credit card reform. As the report says “consumer credit cards have become safer and more transparent while interest rates and fees have stabilized since the Act’s new reforms have taken effect.”

The results are part of an ongoing research project.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.