Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Less than a year after the passage of new laws limiting banks' ability to impose certain fees on credit and debit cards, Bank of America Corp., Discover Financial Services, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other lenders are using different tactics to boost their fee income, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Some are raising minimum payments on certain customers' accounts in order to increase late penalties. Others are ramping up credit-protection insurance programs and charging customers for coverage without permission. Still others are pushing aggressively into high-fee prepaid cards, which are exempt from most of the new rules. Banks already have rolled out a slew of new fees since the passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. Among other things, they have revived annual fees; shortened billing cycles; levied new charges on cards with low credit limits; increased balance-transfer, cash-advance and foreign-exchange fees; and begun aggressively marketing "professional cards" not subject to the restrictions of the Card Act. The Federal Reserve responded on Oct. 19 by announcing proposals that would ban hefty activation fees and prevent issuers from raising interest rates on promotional card offers until a borrower is more than 60 days late.