Today, Congress sent President Obama the much talked-about bill setting in place new rules for the credit card industry.
The new restrictions will protect debt-ridden consumers from many of the surprise charges common in the industry, like over-the-limit fees and a charge to pay the bill by phone. People under 21 also will find it difficult to get a card.
In addition to outlawing other hidden/unexpected fees, the bill puts into place a measure that will allow credit card holders who miss a payment and see their rates rise to lower their rate back to the original level if they pay on time for six consecutive months.
Of course, there are expected to be some negative consequences:
As banks scramble to make up for the lost revenue, cardholders who pay off their balance in full each month could see annual fees become the norm and lucrative rewards programs canceled.
Annual fees? No more thank you points? I have a feeling that competitive forces will still push credit card companies to offer perks to desirable customers. But I also have a feeling that the lost revenue from the now out-lawed fees will be recouped through various shifts and alterations of still-legal fees and rates. As long as so many of us rely on credit cards, the companies who offer us the credit will find a way to remain profitable.