New credit card changes

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There's good news tonight for anyone who uses a credit card. New regulations went into effect today that make it easier for consumers to keep up with their credit.

The main focus of the changes - giving you more of a heads up before payments are due or rates go up. Credit card companies now have to send billing statements 21 days before they're due, instead of 14. They also must give 45 days notice before raising your interest rate.

It's the first phase of legislation signed in May by President Obama that aims to empower consumers to better control their credit.

"I think just the increased disclosure, less fine print, fewer surprises, that's really what's going to protect consumers the most," said Bruce McClary of Clearpoint Financial.

Bruce says that as the new rules go into effect, credit card companies will make adjustments of their own to protect their interests.

"We're going to see interest rate increases for some, credit limit decreases for some, and it's just a measure of the credit card companies taking steps to avoid any kind of heightened risks going forward," said Bruce.

As always, he says it's important to know what is in your credit card contract.

"I think the fewer surprises there are, the easier it'll be to manage your credit so that it works for you instead of against you," he said.

Avoiding those surprises is a key element in navigating the new credit landscape now taking shape.

"Hopefully the lesson learned and the pattern going forward will be that consumers are more aware of how they use credit, how they apply for credit, and just their overall outlook of how credit affects their lives," Bruce said.

Next year, more key provisions of the legislation will go into effect - including limits on the rates companies can charge on existing balances.

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