Price of plastic going up

November 21, 2008 4:33:56 PM PST
While costs are going down on goods all over the place, you still may end up paying more for them. The reason lies in the way you pay. You can't walk down any aisle in any store without seeing the sales, but if you pay with plastic, get ready to shell out a bit more for your goods. That's because the credit card companies are now raising rates and fees for almost every customer, no matter if your credit is in great shape or if you never miss a payment.

Most consumers we spoke with have not heard about the coming increases.

"I'd like to know about it first because I probably would not use my credit card as much anymore," said credit card user Vandy Lampkin.

If you use a Citibank or American Express card, those companies are raising rates by two or three percentage points. American Express is also raising rates on cash advances and increasing late payment fees. Chase is also raising the rate it charges for cash advances and its overdraft protection.

And Chase is even going up with its default rate. The default rate kicks in when you go over your credit limit. Chase customers who have been carrying a large balance for more than two years will also see a new $10 monthly fee and those card holders will also see their minimum payments going up by five percent

"It's costing me more to actually get things," said credit card user Adriana Estrada. "For example, if I want to get something and it is on sale and I use my credit card, it's not going to cost me the sales price."

However, there is something credit card users can do to stop the fee increases, but it may not be the most practical advice. Some credit card companies allow consumers the option of keeping their current rates, but those consumers must pay off the balances and cannot use their cards again.

For some, the changes will make them be a bit more selective when using some cards.

"You have a minimum payment and of course that minimum payment is going to go up and I think that is something you have to consider," said credit card user Deana Argaez.

The credit card companies have to notify you when they change the rates, but typically people think they are junk mail and simply don't read the information. So if you get something from your credit card company, read it because the rates could be going up and you won't know until you see the new rate on your bill.

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