WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published February 22, 2010, 09:03 PM

Changes To Your Credit Card Policy

If you have a credit card, you will be noticing some changes to your bill.

If you have a credit card, you will be noticing some changes to your bill. The new CARD act takes affect today, and it's supposed to transform the way credit card companies do business. Lawmakers say the new rules will end some of the most deceptive tactics and outlaw unfair fees and huge interest rate hikes.

Many of the regulations are also geared toward those under age 21 or university students.

Rachel Barbot is focusing on her studies at UND, but while she's taking classes, she's also building debt. Still, Barbot does not have a credit card.

Barbot says, "It's just one more thing to worry about…having to pay off bills like that. It's so much simpler for finances if you just have one account."

However, other university students in the United States have not used the same tactic...building debt on their credit cards that they can't handle once graduating. That’s one of the reasons Congress passed this sweeping credit card reform. Students now have to either have a co-signer or evidence that they have enough income to make monthly payments to open an account. Companies are also no longer allowed to lure students on campus by offering free gifts to sign.

Alice Hoffert of UND Enrollment Management says, "It's tough to find a downside to this credit act from a student perspective. If it's going to curb some of this misuse by credit cards that is unintentionally caused by students, that's a positive thing."

Those older than 21 will also be affected. Some of the major changes are that credit card companies can't move your due date to trick you into a late payment. They can't charge you for going over your limit unless you agree, and they can't raise your interest rate without 45 days notice. Still UND officials advise students to look elsewhere to solve financial problems before getting a credit card.

Hoffert says, "Fully utilize the federal financial aid programs. Those are the resources and the institutional resources that are the most appropriate ways to finance an education. The use of a credit card and the interest that involves is not a way we would recommend for the financing of higher education."

Credit card companies are already looking to make up money that will be lost because of the new regulations. One of the ideas, charging those who don't even use their cards, may affect more college students than previous policies.

UND Student Kylie Smith says, "I rarely use my credit card. I just don't want to be in the situation where I don't have the money to pay for it."

Some consumer groups are not too happy because the new law puts no limits on the interest rates banks can charge and allows them to add new fees on paper transactions or purchases made overseas.