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As most major card issuers have jacked up late payment fees and over-limit fees to $29, South Dakota-based Green Tree Retail Services Bank has taken its fees to the $30 level. Like the 19.80% fixed interest rate of the 1980’s, the $29 late fee and over-limit fee has come to signify what the consumer market will bear. Green Tree, which markets the sub-prime ‘Conseco MasterCard’, also greatly raised its interest rate and increased its cash advance fee. According to CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com), the ‘Conseco MasterCard’ now carries a regular interest rate of Prime + 17.20% and a punitive interest rate of Prime + 20.20%. Last year, Green Tree charged a regular APR of Prime +9.4% and a punitive APR of Prime +12.40%, for the ‘Conseco’ card. The sub-prime specialist also bumped up cash advance fees from 3% with a $3.00 minimum to 3% with a $5.00 minimum. In the business card market Advanta still holds the distinction of charging the highest fees. According to CardWatch, Advanta’s no-annual-fee ‘Business MasterCard’ carries a $35 late payment fee and over-limit fee. Industry wide card issuers charge an average of $24.33 for a late payment and $23.65 for going over the credit limit, according to CardData (www.carddata.com).

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