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Fed details credit card law changes

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WASHINGTON (3/10/10)--Most consumers are aware that credit card laws changed recently--that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, more than half (65%) don’t know the specifics, according to a January survey by the Consumer Federation of America and Credit Union National Association. To help consumers comprehend the new credit card protections, the Federal Reserve launched an interactive website in late February. Consumer’s Guide to Credit Cards explains credit protection laws and more. In addition to running through key changes of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act in English and Spanish, the site offers:
* A guide to the interest rates, charges, and fees section of credit card offers, with rollover interpretations of a sample offer; * Sample credit card statement, with rollover definitions; * Repayment calculator; * Video with five tips on using credit cards wisely; and * Glossary of common credit card terms.
Consumers will find valuable guidance--almost hidden on the site--under “5 Tips for Getting the Most From Your Credit Card.” The tips, succinctly put, are:
* Pay on time; * Stay below your credit limit; * Avoid unnecessary fees; * Pay more than the minimum; and * Watch for changes in the terms of your account.
This last point is essential. Since the first phase of CARD Act protections in 2009, large banks that issue cards have been adjusting terms to maintain profits. With the second phase of protections now in force, be alert for new fees and more rate changes. Better yet, instead of waiting, compare bank card terms with a credit union credit card. Since your credit union is a not-for-profit financial institution, any gain on credit cards is returned to members in the form of lower loan rates and better savings rates. For more tips on managing credit cards, listen to the “Credit Card Reform” audio file in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.