LAST AUGUST, the U.S. Congress
passed the Credit Card Accountability,
Responsibility and Disclosure Act (or
Credit CARD Act) of 2009. Going into
effect February 22, 2010, it is expected
to have dramatic benefits for consumers struggling to pay their monthly
balances. Here are some highlights.
Grace periods. Card companies must provide
at least 21 days for cardholders to pay after the statement is issued, up from the current legal requirement of just 14 days.
Interest rates. Companies must notify cardholders of any increase in interest rates at least 45
days before the new rates take effect. The law also
limits the powers of creditors to increase rates and
impose fees. The extended grace period also postpones late-payment rates going into effect, keeping
a lid on exorbitant penalties.
Minimum payments going up. A higher percentage of the balance will now be due at each payment. However, the new law prevents issuers from
raising minimum payments at any given time by
more than 100 percent, meaning the issuer can’t
hike the minimum from 3 percent to more than 6
percent at a given time.
While the new law may be good for consumers,
credit-card companies criticize the law for its effects
on corporate profits. Many have sought to bolster
their profits by introducing annual fees or raising
interest rates on their credit cards before the law goes
into effect. Pro-industry experts argue that credit-card companies must find a way to make a profit.
They claim that an annual-fee-free account amounts
to a free service provided by the credit-card companies; such a free service, they argue, means losing
revenue because these companies must bear the burden of processing the transactions.
American Express’ decision goes
further than legislation Congress
enacted earlier this year that would
limit, but not eliminate, monthly fees
on gift cards. American Express began
selling gift cards five years ago, and it
now sells more than $1 billion worth of
cards a year.
Note: Costco Cash cards have no fees.—Ed.
■ Gift-card fees
■ Smoking and
A REAL ESTATE broker
and property manager who
managed three condos in
Colorado for me suddenly
closed his business, keeping almost $6,500 in rents
for September 2009, and
converted or diverted
funds in the security
deposit account. What
recourse do I have other
than filing a lawsuit?
American Express has now eliminated monthly
fees on its popular gift cards in a move that is likely
to prompt its competitors to do the same.
American Express says that consumers have
been enthusiastic about the cards as an alternative
to store-based gift certificates because the holders
can redeem them anywhere American Express is
accepted, but many complained about the
monthly fee that kicked in after 12 months and
eroded the balance.
Smoking voids computer warranty
If you’re a smoker with a Macintosh computer,
your warranty may go up in smoke! In at least two
reported instances, Apple voided the
warranty and refused to provide
repair service on Macs exposed to
Apple has decreed that smoke
residue inside a computer presents a
health risk and a “biohazard,” and in
both reported cases customers
were denied service, despite
having a valid warranty.
Apple says that repair centers have the authority to
decide whether to service
smoky computers, citing
Safety and Health
that include nicotine in a
list of hazardous substances that could damage the health of someone
exposed to them.
However, this is not
listed anywhere in the
Apple computer warranty’s fine print. That means
an aggressive consumer
might be able to put up a
good fight and win the
right to repairs. C
There are several things
you should consider doing.
Hire a private investigator
to find out his whereabouts.
Report him to the police in
the town where the condos
are located, since the inci-
dent took place there and
could be considered a
robbery. Report the
incident to the
of Real Estate’s
department as a
of funds. They
might also have
tion for him. You
should also report
the loss to the Internal
Revenue Service, as
lost income. And even
though you don’t want
to file a lawsuit, I
believe you should con-
sider getting a local
with a backup in Utah.
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate (
He is a frequent guest on radio and television stations. Consult your local
listings for dates and times.
© 2010 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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