The new Credit Card Act of 2009 is meant to protect you from the various tactics credit card companies use to separate you from your money.
- They have to give 45 days' notice of a rate hike;
- They can't impose increases in the first year of a new account; and
- Promotional rates have to last at least six months.
The law also restricts interest-rate increases on old balances, and limits fees and penalty interest.
Unfortunately, the Act doesn't resolve everything. Beware: You won't get advanced warning of a rate increase if it's based on a variable rate, such as the prime rate. And much to our dismay, the law didn't impose an interest-rate ceiling. Now might be a good time to start weaning yourself off the little buggers and become a cash-only woman.
Interested in learning more about credit card reform? Check out CreditCardRreform.org, a website sponsored by the Consumers Union -- an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers.