Consumer Payment Card News

Big Squeeze

While the U.S. might not be able to drill its way out of the energy crisis, credit card issuers are gearing up to drill cardholders as way out of the financial crisis. American Express and Citibank have already announced they will start squeezing more interest charges and fees out of some cardholders next month. American Express is raising interest rates by as much as three percentage points and Citibank is planning to raise interest rates by at least three percentage points for about 20% of its U.S. card accounts. Citi reportedly is targeting customers who have not had an increase in at least two years. Citi cardholders will be notified of the changes this month and then have until the end of January to turn down the higher interest rates. If they decline the rate increase, they will pay down the balances on their accounts under the current pricing terms and will be able to use the card until it expires. American Express also plans to increase the conversion rate for charges made in foreign currencies by one percentage point. Look for more credit card issuers to follow the re-pricing trend over the next three months. Also, watch credit card statements for changes to your credit limit.

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