New Plastic Protection

Self-SabotageThe 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, a website sponsored by the Consumers Union — an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers.

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