| August 17, 2009

Variable-rate credit card debt not seeing rate reduction benefits

A recently released survey by advocacy group Consumer Action shows that many consumers are not seeing the total benefit of being switched to a variable interest rate on their credit card debt.

The survey showed that despite a 2 percent drop in the Prime Rate, the average annual percentage on a credit card with a variable rate only dropped 1 percent compared to 2008. For this year’s survey, the average annual percentage rate on credit card debt with a variable rate was 13.2 percent.

“Credit card companies are expecting their customers to foot the bill for their losses, through steep increases in rates and fees,” Ruth Susswein, who coordinated the new survey, said. “When the Prime Rate falls, it is unfair not to pass along the savings to variable rate cardholders. It’s a game of heads I win, tails you lose.”

Many of these switches come in light of the fact that new government regulations are taking effect soon. According to provisions in the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure, card issuers are going to have to give further notice when changing fees or interest rates.
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