by beconrad

As the long awaited credit card reforms President Obama signed into law take effect, consumers will need to watch their mailboxes and their credit card statements for new fees, new terms and new charges.…  Credit card companies are already trying to make up the revenue they expect to lose as a result of the legislation, and they are ramping up a variety of existing fees — and implementing new ones — in an attempt to squeeze more dollars out of their existing customers.

Citibank and American Express have already begun introducing annual fees to cards that used to be free from such charges, and other credit card issuers are expected to follow suit in the weeks and months ahead.…  That means credit card customers will need to be extremely vigilant about reading what may look like junk mail.…  That junk mail may contain important information about the implantation of new annual fees, the elimination of reward programs and other unpleasant changes to terms and conditions.

Ironically, the people who stand to lose the most as a result of the new credit card reform legislation are the customers who always pay their bills in full. Credit card companies have a name for these customers — they call them deadbeats, due to the fact that they derive no direct revenue from those customers.…  As reform moves forward and credit card issuers are prohibited from engaging in some of their most egregious behavior, those companies may seek new revenue streams from customers who pay in full every month.

For instance, some credit card issuers have quietly begun implementing card inactivity fees on seldom used accounts, so cardholders would be well advised to look through their wallets (and their sock drawers) for cards that have not seen use for quite some time. Closing unneeded accounts is one way to avoid unwanted fees, but it may be better to contact the issuing company first to ask about any new charges that may apply.…  Often simply using the card once or twice a year will be enough to keep those fees at bay.…  If the charges are unacceptable, customers can always vote with their feet and move on to a new card issuer.

There is no doubt that many consumers stand to gain enormously from the reforms President Obama and his allies in Congress worked so hard to implement.…  But as with everything in life, there are tradeoffs to be made.…  There are bound to be losers in credit card reform, and those losers are more likely to be loyal credit card customers than the credit card companies themselves.