Consumer Payment Card News

Card Changes

Tis the season to start cranking up the dials on credit card rates and fees. Watch your mail closely as most of the top issuers are revising penalty interest rates, and fees for such things as late payments, over-limit situations, and cash advances.

Starting in April, Bank of America will charge you an interest rate of 29.49% (prime +23.99) if you miss two payments or go over the credit line twice in a twelve month period. BofA will also raise the cash advance interest rate to 21.49% (prime +15.99). Additionally, BofA will use the highest prime rate charged in the past three months as the basis for its monthly variable rate adjustment.

Chase is boosting its late fees for lower balances. Effective with the April billing cycle, the late fee will be $15 if the balance is below $250, and $39 if the balance is $250 or more. But if the default rate is in effect, then the $39 late fee applies regardless of the balance.

Discover will use three penalty interest rates for late payments or over-limits. Starting in April, any late payment will terminate all promotional APRs and trigger the rate to the standard rate or as rate as high as 16.49% (prime +10.99). If you make two late payments or go over the credit line twice within a twelve month period, then the APR may go as high as prime +15.99%. If you make three late payments or go over the credit line three times within a twelve month period, then the APR may go as high as prime +19.99%. Discover is also raising late fees for higher balances. The late fee for balances of $1,000 or more will increase from $35 to $39.

Citibank started increasing its late fee and cash advance fees this month. The late fee is now $15 for balances under $100, $29 for balances between $100 and $1000, and $39 for balances of $1,000 or more. Citi is also raising its balance transfer fee to 3% with a $5 minimum and $75 maximum and the cash advance APR to 20.49% (prime +14.99%) with a 19.99% minimum.

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