What You Need To Know About New Credit Card Rules Credit cardholders, listen up: On Monday, new federal regulations will take effect, changing the relationship between you and your card issuer. Here, a look at some of the key provisions.

What You Need To Know About New Credit Card Rules

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: Joining us to explain is NPR's senior business editor Marilyn Geewax. Welcome, Marilyn.

MARILYN GEEWAX: Good morning.

: So lots of us have plastic in our wallets. I'm thinking credit covers just about everyone over 11. What's going to be different tomorrow?

GEEWAX: A few of the new rules took affect last year but major provisions are being phased in on Monday.

: Now, you know, as we know, it's not easy to get Congress to act. So they must have had a lot of complaints from credit card holders.

GEEWAX: So the new law is supposed to fix some of those problems. And there are studies that estimate the new regulations should save consumers about $10 billion a year.

: Well, I'm sure a lot of people are eager to hear just how. How does the law do it?

GEEWAX: And then the billing due date is going to have to be the same day every month. It's no more of that suddenly moving it up three days to trick you and get you to pay the late fees.

: You know, this seems like such a reasonable step. What is the criticism?

GEEWAX: Remember, before in the 1990s, credit card issuers often would have what they'd call a membership fee. Every year, you'd have to pay whatever, $50. and those went away. Now they might come back. There could also be things like inactivity fees that get imposed.

: Wait just a minute. Fees for inactivity, meaning if you don't use it...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: ...you get charged, too?

GEEWAX: Just for keeping the account open. And they have paperwork to do, so they might just charge you fees for not using your credit card. But, you know, this is a free market. If you don't like the terms that you're offered, but people really need to shop around. And one example is credit cards issued by credit unions often have better terms. So shop around and get the best rate that you can.

: Is there anything in this law to cap interest rates? I just remembered some of those ginormous interest rates, which caused such outrage.

GEEWAX: Well, yeah. No, there isn't. As long as the issuers let you know in advance that interest rates are going to go up, they can raise them as much as they want. And that's just part of this free market idea that if interest rates go up across the board, well, then they'll probably go up for card as well.

: NPR senior business editor Marilyn Geewax, thanks for explaining this one.

GEEWAX: Well, you're welcome.

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