Navigating New Credit Card Rules Do's and Don'ts

February 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Monday, February 22, 2010 is the beginning of a whole new ball game in the world of personal credit and debt. The rules for the credit card companies may have been tightened to assist borrowers.

But it will be up to you to rein in spending and keep an eye on all the tiny lines of print on your monthly bills. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility And Disclosure Act was written to help Americans get out of debt by changing the rules lenders used to keep you in debt.

Cindy Robinson is one those it is intended to help. She had high credit bills with very high rates as she paid them down, "People have lost their jobs and they should be trying to help people and not make in harder for people that are struggling right now."

From now on your monthly credit card statements will have new information to guide you. The CCARD Act requires:

  • It must show how long it will take to pay off your balance
  • Banks can't move your 'DUE DATE' at will
  • They can't charge you for being over you limit unless you agree
  • Or raise your interest rate without notice
  • And if they do, they can't keep it there if you pay on time for 6 months
Debt counselor, Martha Lucey says read every line of fine print on your latest statement, "You probably received a disclosure statement recently that you should read and see what the changes are in any of the charges associated with your account.'

Next she says is a 'come-to-reality' check for you and your family, "Make a plan that may include some short term cuts that are gonna help them be healthier financially in the long run." She also told us that you don't want to close your inactive or paid off credit card accounts. You lose good credit history and could possibly damage the good credit rating you have now, "Because it decreases your length of credit history and it will decrease your overall credit score."

And by working together she says families can reduce the financial pressure together, "It's also a good time for families to take stock in what they're spending and think about whether reducing their credit card debt is going to better for the family in the long run."

As for getting professional help? Lucey more sound advice, "Make sure to choose a "free" credit counseling agency. But also check out every agency you are considering for its standing in the Better Business Bureau."

She also suggests you to check out the details of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.

If you are thinking of closing an account that you have paid off she suggests taking a look at the website listed here. For about 15 bucks you can determine how closing or leaving up a paid account might affect your Credit Score in the future.

Martha Lucey's Do's & Don'ts

Don't

  • Skip the fine print
  • Opt-in for over-limit charges
  • Close inactive accounts without some thought
  • Wait to react if you miss a payment
Do
  • Pay on time
  • Be on the lookout for new creditor charges
  • Use the information provided to you
  • Talk with your family about credit
  • Get help if you need it

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