30 percent interest for late payments at Bank of America

Credit card

Just because there are new rules for how banks raise interest rates on credit cards doesn't mean Bank of America and others won't still do so. Photo: MoneyBlogNewz/Flickr.com/CC-BY

Just because there are new rules for how banks can raise credit card interest rates does not mean banks will not raise them. Bank of America, for instance, has been reported as raising interest rates to 30 percent for missing a single payment. The increased regulation is making some differences, but may not be as effective as hoped.

CARD Act causes default interest rates to increase

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 had a noble aim, which was to make the way credit card companies dealt with their customers and the interest rates on the cards issued to them clearer. One practice in particular was that of default rates, according to Daily Finance. When a customer defaults on their credit card, the interest rate assessed on past and future balances is raised, even if payment is late by a day. In 2009, default rates averaged around 25 percent, but are currently averaging closer to 30 percent. Bank of America is already raising default rates to 29.99 percent on the future balances of customers who are late on payments.

Card issuers have been compliant

Default rates can no longer be charged on past balances unless the account is 60 days in default or more, and banks are complying with laws. However, that is small consolation to card carriers who rely on credit cards to help them cover unexpected expenses. Credit cards are a method for people who don’t have or want to use cash to avoid having to miss payments or resort to other types of short term loans in a pinch, but a 30 percent interest rate makes for a slim margin of error. One missed payment and a car holder won’t be able to afford to rely on their card as a source of credit anymore, which is a common reason for people turning to other lending options such as car title and payday loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is supposed to begin regulating consumer credit products in a few months, according to CNN, but legislative bickering over the agency may gut it before it opens its doors.

Overdraft fees continue

People are still paying overdraft fees and buying overdraft protection despite the programs having been a cause of customer dissatisfaction, according to USA Today. It is estimated that banks and credit unions will collect nearly $38.5 billion in overdraft fee revenue for 2011. Overdraft fees average about $35 per occurrence when a customer is enrolled in overdraft protection, which not every bank customer wants to. Simply having one’s debit card declined costs nothing, and a transfer of funds from savings to checking in case of an overdraft costs far less than using a line of credit related to overdraft protection.

Sources

Daily Finance

CNN

USA Today

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