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Credit-Card Laws' Unintended Consequences

Stocks in this article: BAC C JPM

4. The scarcity of fixed-rate credit cards. Most issuers switched their fixed-rate cards to variable rates, since the CARD Act allows APR increases in variable-rate cards if the index used to calculate that variable rate increases. As an example, if the index for a variable-rate card is tied to the prime rate, and the prime rate increases by 1%, the APR on that card can increase 1%. Many issuers switched their fixed-rate cards to variable-rate cards so they could maintain their margins once the CARD Act was instituted.

5. Since any amount above the minimum monthly payment goes toward the balance with the highest APR, some issuers raised the minimum payment up to 5% on a number of accounts.

6. A decrease in the amount of credit card rewards or cash rebates. Reduced rewards could come in different forms: a cutback in the payouts of cash back cards; more miles or points needed for that free airline trip or hotel stay; or higher tiers required for consumers to receive the same level of rewards. If your payout on your rewards program does get reduced, you can always shop for a new credit card. Be sure to compare three or four possible rewards cards by looking closely at the terms and conditions.

7. A decrease in the number of credit cards awarded by retail stores. Providing proof of income when applying for a credit card will make it significantly harder for consumers to instantly qualify for a credit card. This will certainly impact the marketing efforts of the 10% to 15% discount on a purchase if you sign up for a store's credit card. Retailers rely on this marketing strategy to increase purchases and to build their mailing list of customers used for offering future coupons or early-bird discounts.

-- Reported by Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com.

Bill Hardekopf is the chief executive officer of LowCards.com, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."
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