Despite New Rules Consumers need to be Alert to the Changes and Charges that can occur with Credit Card purchases and Interest.

Certain provisions of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act) effective February 22, 2010 put new rules on credit card companies. While these rules offer more protection for consumers – such as a 45-day notice of pending rate or fee hikes, no rate increases for the first 12 months after opening an account and other restrictions on rate increases and fees – the Illinois CPA Society warns you to never let your guard down when it comes to your credit cards.

Some fees have already been raised in anticipation of the Act’s provisions going into effect, and fixed rate cards may have been unilaterally changed to variable rate cards by issuers. Be on the alert for more changes. Despite the new rules, credit card issuers may get creative, so watch for these tactics:
• Additional new fees, such as one for inactivity, or increasing existing fees for transactions or transfers.
• Charges for services that had previously been provided at no cost, like paper statements.
• Adjustments on terms for loyalty or reward cards, making it more difficult to accumulate points or placing limits on amounts you can earn and how you can make use of them.

The Society recommends taking a few basic steps to protect against costly charges, fees and errors:
1. Read everything you receive from your credit card company, especially the “Terms and Conditions” section on your statement.
2. Carefully review your statement each month; check every line item, looking for charges and fees you don’t recognize or that differ from your last statement.
3. Ask Questions. If there’s a fee you don’t recognize, or wording you don’t understand in the fine print, ask for an explanation.
Also consider calling the credit card company to see if you can get a better rate or special allowances for being a good customer.
4. Continue to be wary of special offers and rates. Variable rate cards which fluctuate with the prime rate are still available, and although marketing is restricted on college campuses, credit card companies may still offer freebies and enticements to potential customers.
5. Pay as much as you can each month to avoid high fees and penalties, and to protect your credit history.
About the Illinois CPA Society
The Illinois CPA Society, founded in 1903, is the fifth largest state CPA society in the nation, with more than 24,000 members. It is the premier professional organization that represents CPAs in Illinois. During its over 100 years of existence, the Society has advanced the highest ethical and financial standards of the profession, and has been a leader in educating the public on financial issues. Have Questions, comments or feedback ~ contact: Judi Kulm, Communications & Media Manager
312-993-0407 ext.251

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