Credit Score Articles

Banks adding credit card fees to counteract restrictions

While the new Senate bill designed to protect consumers from credit card companies' costly practices has taken away billions in revenue, lenders are looking to make that money back.

Most commonly, they will do so with old practices: annual credit card fees, monthly checking account fees and product bundling.

"What you're essentially doing is squeezing the balloon, (so fees) are going to pop up somewhere else," Bart Narter, senior vice president at bank research and consulting firm Celent, told USA Today.

Narter added that in response to the new laws, more of these fees will roll out in the coming months and will generally be viewed as more fair by regulators. Previously, he said, banks relied heavily on overdraft fees to drive revenues and keep checking free, but now that the mechanism has been taken away by regulations, this is how the banks will make up the lost money.

While this new policy is somewhat concerning to consumer advocates like Leslie Parrish of the Center for Responsible Lending, she said it's not as bad as it might seem, noting that lenders having to disclose such fees is, "a good thing for consumers."

But without a consumer protection bureau, banks will figure out ways to circumvent the new regulations at some point, say advocates. Gail Hillebrand of the Consumers Union told the newspaper there is nothing in place to prevent banks from clearing transactions from most expensive to least so as to empty accounts more quickly and in doing so get more overdraft fees.

According to an article on AOL News, under the CARD Act of 2009 paying more than the minimum on a credit card balance can not only eat away debt more quickly (and in doing so limit the amount of fees a lender can potentially charge), but can also boost one's credit score.

Paying more than the minimum also eats into charges with the highest annual percentage rates on a card. One provision of the CARD Act states that all money paid above the minimum must be applied to charges with the highest APR first.

"We want Americans to know that the new law's changes to credit card practices can work for them," Joshua Frank, the CRL's senior credit card industry researcher, told AOL. "We urge credit card customers to make the most of this new law by paying as much as possible above the minimum."