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Credit cards: Less rewarding?
As new federal regulations take effect, credit card issuers are raising costs and trimming rewards

"Rapacious banks" aren't taking credit-card-rule changes lying down, said Brian Dickerson in the Detroit Free Press. The Federal Reserve’s “pro-consumer credit card regulations” kick in Thursday, and the “so-called Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights” takes effect early next year. But “check you mailbox” before you celebrate -- before the new rules kick in, credit card issuers are raising interest rates, fees, and canceling cards without notice.

Some of these changes are “unfriendly,” but “unfair? I’m not so sure,” said Carla Fried in CNNMoney.com. Chase, for example, is raising the minimum payment to 5 percent of your credit card balance, from 2 percent. “Tightening the payment screws” when unemployment is at a 25-year high may seem cruel, but higher payments mean paying off your debt a lot faster.

"More consumers are rebelling" by switching to debit cards, said Kelli Grant in SmartMoney, but that’s “just fine with banks”—they earn more when you use a debit card, and they “pile on the overdraft fees” if you’re not careful, so “set up your own overdraft protection.” Also, credit cards have much better fraud protection and more generous rewards.

Actually, “credit card rewards programs are suddenly less rewarding,” said Nancy Trejos in The Washington Post. Banks are citing the looming regulations to make cardholders pay new fees or use more points to redeem airline miles, or to curtail the amount of cash back on purchases, or otherwise dull the “perks.”

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