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Know your rights under the CARD act

Here's the most obvious statement of the decade ? credit card companies make a lot of money. And they do it by charging late fees and interest when their card holders don't pay off their balance every month. But cardholders know what they're getting into so they have no one to blame but themselves, right? Not necessarily. It's no secret that credit card companies engage in some tricky maneuvers to keep you guessing about your APR, due dates and fees.

That's one of the reasons Congress decided to pass the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, legislation meant to protect cardholders from some of the more egregious tactics. Here are some of the rules it enacted:

  • Credit card companies are now not permitted to increase your APR until you've had the card for a year unless:
  • They informed you when you opened the account.
  • You neglect to pay the minimum balance for 60 days or more.
  • You fail to adhere to the rules of any "workout" program for people who struggle to make payment
  • The APR gets raised beyond the company's control
  • Credit card companies must now disclose:
  • Rate increases
  • Any alterations to the original agreement
  • How long it will take you to pay off the balance
  • Any fees or due dates
  • Any penalty APRs
  • A statement showing fees and interest paid throughout the year
  • Companies cannot consider your payment late if the statement was sent less than 21 days before it is due

If you're struggling to make payment, it might be a good idea to speak with an attorney about your options.

Source: findlaw.com, "Credit Card Rules and the CARD Act," retrieved May 15, 2015

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