For the first time in more than 20 years the average late payment fee for bank credit cards declined in March to $35.01 compared to $35.07 for the prior month. Most of the top issuers charged a late fee of $39, however the fee is now assessed based on the outstanding balance which has helped drive down the average. Over the past ten years late fees have soared by 133% from $15.01 to $35.01 following a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. On June 3, 1996 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that card fees should be treated the same as interest rates when it comes to the preemption of state laws. Previously the Supreme Court ruled commercial banks may charge interest rates on credit cards subject to the limitations imposed by the bank’s home state or issuing state, not the cardholder’s state of residence. The ruling gave the same protection to fees associated with a bank credit card program.