The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which you have likely heard at least a little about, goes into effect in February of 2010 and there are lots of great features to look forward to. One big change is that the rate you are charged for existing balances will not increase if you are just a few days late with your payment. In the past, if even one payment was a day or two late, your card issuer could raise your interest rate.
However, this doesn't mean you can be non-chalant about getting your payment in on time because if you are late, the issuer can raise the rate they charge you for future transactions. And, if you are more than 60 days late making a payment, the card issuer is free to raise the interest rate on your current and future transactions. If this happens to you, you should know that if you make payments on time for 6 months after the late payment, your rate will return to the original Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
Also, when you make a payment that exceeds the minimum payment required, the excess amount will now be applied to the balances with the highest APR. So if you are carrying a balance and some of the balance is at a 6.99 percentage rate and some is at 12.99 percent, any payment that exceeds the minimum payment due will be applied to the balance at the 12.99 percent rate.
Finally, your payment date will now be the same day each month and that day will be at least 25 days from the closing date of your statement. Having the same date every month should make it easier for most people to get the payment in on time. And, if you want to have a specific payment date, say the day after your paycheck gets depeosited, don't hesitate to contact your issuer and ask them to change the date. Most will be happy to accommodate that request.
The specific rules that will apply to your card will be sent to you shortly if you haven't already received that information. Be sure to read the information sent by your issuer very carefully so that you are completely familiar with the new rules.
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