Well, you can’t say they didn’t warn us.
The banks threatened to go on a rate-raising, fee-hiking, rule-writing rampage if Congress approved the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility Act of 2009.
It did, and the result has been an unending stream of letters from my credit cards making good on that threat.
But I still find it ironic that the most recent arrived the day after the first few provisions of the law intended to protect me from the credit card industry’s worst abuses took effect on Aug. 20.
It was a typically muddled, if not deceptive, letter that indicated it wasn’t through kicking us credit card holders around.
It began innocently enough:
Customer privacy and security have never been more important. We want you to know that we’re doing more to protect your privacy and make your account secure.
But buried in the mumbo jumbo about privacy changes I soon discovered:
Account policies are once again changing.
That’s never good.
Enclosed with the lovey-dovey intro letter about protecting my privacy was a fine-print pamphlet outlining new rates and new rules, all to my detriment.
- The Overdraft Advance APR changes to Prime Rate plus 21.99%, and that’s applied to current and future balances. In July, that percentage would be 25.24%.
- Balance transfers and will carry a fee of 5% of whatever you’re transferring or advancing (up from 3%.)
- The bank has the right to deny any balance transfers or cash advances even if I have more than enough available credit for the transaction.
- In fact, the bank is suspending balance transfers unless it expressly allows me to make one.
- If it chooses to do so, that balance transfer will be treated like a cash advance. It will accruing interest charges immediately and at the higher interest rate imposed on cash advances (as opposed to purchases).
- And finally, the astronomical default rate will be imposed on my credit card balance if I make a late payment “on other accounts or loans with us or one of our related companies.”
Ok. Enough already. I get it.
You’re a bad ass and the government’s piddling effort to protect me from our abusive relationship has only turned you into a bigger bad ass.
You’re going to impose every draconian fee and rule your army of lawyers can think of before most of the new restrictions take effect in February, and there’s nothing I or any of those pitiful consumer-huggers in Washington can do about it.