Credit card tips for 2010

Eyewitness News

January 5, 2010 8:31:23 PM PST
No one really enjoys reading the fine print. But in 2010, when it comes to your credit card, you'll want to pay attention to what you get in the mail from your bank. Credit card users are being hit with a record number of fees.

Some people can't imagine life without credit cards, but millions of Americans have swiped their way into a financial hole.

And it's the type of credit card debt that may only get worse with new fees.

"2010 will probably be the year people hate their banks for the fees they're going to be forced to pay," Wall Street Journal reporter Robin Sidel said.

Sidel says credit card companies are imposing a wide range of new charges on their customers. For example, some banks are changing fixed rate cards into variable rate cards. There are inactivity fees if you don't use your card enough. And there's even a $1 fee for a printed statement.

"I spoke to this guy who got the $1 fee," Sidel said. "He said it's $12 a year and it's driving me crazy. And I'm going to cut up my card."

By introducing new fees on credit cards, banks are racing to find new sources of revenue ahead of a law that takes effect in February. That law's intended goal is simple - to protect consumers from deceptive credit card practices.

Experts say you can counter new fees by paying attention to those credit card disclosures you get in the mail. And if that's not enough, simply call the credit card company. Steven Burman is the president of a non-profit that helps people eliminate their credit card debt.

"What I would suggest is call customer service and just have them go through the bill," he said. "Look at all the fees."

But that might not translate into a bank waiving their new fees. Some say credit card companies are doing everything they can to make their investors happy. And their customers are unhappily footing the bill.

CLICK HERE for more on Steven Burman's non-profit Credit Advocate Counseling Corp.