Credit card changes for U.S. consumers

February 21, 2010 5:09:40 PM PST
New credit card rules take effect Monday, and they mean big changes for consumers.The changes are part of the Credit Card Act of 2009, which was signed into law last May.

The goal is to end what some call unfair and deceptive business practices.

Some of the key provisions are:

  • Issuers cannot raise interest rates during the first year of new accounts.

  • After that, cardholders must be notified 45 days in advance of any rate change.

  • For existing balances, rates can't be raised, unless the account is at least 60 days past due.

    However, cardholders can expect new fees.

    "We should now be ready to start seeing new annual fees on cards that have never had an annual fee, inactivity fees for cards that are underutilized, and we should also expect to see late fees increase. So, for people who are even one or two days late on their credit card bills, they're going to get hit with a dreaded late fee $35 to $39.

    For younger consumers, those under age 21 will need an adult co-signer to open a credit card or a proven income.