Credit card rules changes

Seven On Your Side
March 18, 2009 3:18:08 PM PDT
The Chase card holder's credit card bill suddenly doubled. It was just one of the many changes happening to scores of credit card users. But we have a way for consumers to avoid getting blind sided. "It doesn't make sense." Cynthia Tagliaferri's minimum monthly credit card payment more than doubled from $400 hundred to more than $900.

Cynthia is one of 400,000 Chase card holders who had their minimum monthly payments go from 2% of the balance to 5%.

"2% to 3%, that I think is fair," she told to 7 On Your Side's Tappy Phillips. "But 2% to 5%, I question that."

Chase did give Cynthia an option, she could keep her original minimum payment but her interest rate would nearly double from 4.99% to 7.99%.

"I give money to the government and they are now choosing to give money to the banks to help them out. So I don't find that this is coming back to help me out at all. And I know that I am not alone," said Cynthia.

Money Magazine's Donna Rosato says Cynthia is NOT alone. "Credit card companies are tightening up their standards because they are losing money."

Now many of the major credit card companies have suddenly raised interest rates on card holders, too. Others are trying to drop customers altogether.

"American Express, for example, is paying people or giving people $300 gift cards as an incentive to pay down their account and close their account," says Donna.

Your best ally to combat these changes? Donna says it's easy, keep your credit score in the mid to high 700's. "You should always try to negotiate, if you have a good credit score and a good payment history you can have some leverage with the bank."

Cynthia told us she's going to pay off her Chase credit card debt in full. Consumers should know these credit card changes are perfectly legal. But the rules are going to change once more consumer friendly credit card regulations go into place - but that won't happen until 2010. In the meantime, keep your credit card debt low and your credit score high. Chase told the amount of customers affected is very small. They were chosen because by Chase because they had high balances on their credit card. ----

Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone