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The Ways to Navigate through Credit Card Changes

[Sunday, February 20th, 2011]

A recent survey shows that 65% of credit companies and banks continue to cut spending limits and raise interest rates on the accounts of their customers. What’s more, lenders raise minimum credit requirements for new applicants, making it difficult for people to get new credit cards.

More and more consumers report getting interest rate hikes and a decrease in their spending limits. But the worst thing about this all is that account changes affect even those people with high scores. The question becomes: how to navigate through these account changes and stay financially afloat?

In this recession, consumers and banks are experiencing harsh economic pressures. While people are trying to make both ends meet, banks and companies are suffering unbelievable losses because of high charge-offs and rising unemployment. As for the issuers, they expect more looses associated with new restrictive credit card laws that will take effect in February 2010 and they’re not going to sit back waiting for the new laws to come. Increasingly, major companies and banks raise interest rates and some fees, not to mention spending limit cuts that result in serious financial difficulties for the card holders.

In this uncertain economic environment, the best way to navigate through credit card changes is being aware of these changes. First off, it should be said that lenders may or may not notify you about the account changes. According to the credit card reform, lenders will have to give you 45 days’ notice before slashing your limit. But for now, no laws restrict lenders and there’s no notification necessary for the account changes. So, how can you protect yourself from these changes?

First off, be sure to check your credit card statements regularly. If you notice some negative change, call your company at once. If it doesn’t work, keep tying and take to a supervisor to negotiate your interest rate.

When interest rates doubled, most consumers are apt to move their balance on a balance transfer card and cancel the accounts. Don’t hurry and take your time to weigh all pros and cons. If you’ve had this card for years, you may move the balance but you’d better keep this account open. The length of your credit history is one of the most important components in credit scoring formulas. What’s more, closing the old account may reduce your debt to available credit ratio. It may also negatively impact your scores.

It may sound weird but you may expect help from your issuer. The data provided by the Nilson Report shows that nearly 3 million consumers received debt relief through interest rate reduction or debt consolidation offered by the credit companies. So, if you cannot overcome your debts, your company may be able to meet you halfway and offer special credit help services.

And finally, be sure to keep track of your account changes and adjustments. Information is the best defense in today’s economic environment. So, try to make your payments on time and manage your credit responsibly.

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