By Susan M. Keenan …©2010

While most credit card holders should see some benefit from the changes taking place due to the passing of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009, some consumers are going to experience higher annual costs for keeping their credit cards while others are going to find it more difficult than ever to even obtain a credit card, even if it has a low limit of credit attached to it. While this might not have been one of the intended results, nonetheless, it is going to happen.

The roughly 40% who pay their credit card bills in full each payment cycle might stand to become losers in the coming months. How can this be? Well, credit card companies and banks have been scrambling to make up the revenue they are about to lose due to limits on interest rate changes and the elimination of the universal default clause. They aren’t about to give up a large chunk of profit without at least making some type of effort to recoup some of it, no matter who they get it from.

Payment Statement Fees

Some credit card issuers are incorporating monthly statement fees of one dollar for any cardholder who opts to receive a paper statement rather than an electronic one. Know who this is really going to hurt?

The thousands of senior citizens who haven’t yet found a need for those new-fangled machines that everyone else seems to love, computers, are going to be some of the ones picking up those fees. Your mother, father, great aunt, reclusive Uncle Harry, and just about anyone over the age of 70 is more likely to pay this fee than the rest of the population who can blithely say, ”Send my bill electronically.”

Of course, you have consumers under the age of 70 who simply do not trust the Internet after reading all of those stories about identity theft. These people are also going to opt for paper statements and pay the one dollar fee that is going to line the pockets of big banks and credit card companies.

Plus, there is also going to be a certain number of consumers who simply prefer paper statements for whatever reason. While they might not be happy about paying that extra one dollar each month, they are likely to pay it anyway for the convenience of receiving a paper credit card bill statement.

Annual Membership Fees

While most credit card issuers have been charging annual membership fees for years, many of them have waived these fees for credit card holders who requested that they do so. Unfortunately, some credit card companies and banks are rethinking this strategy. They stand to bring in billions of dollars annually if they simply start charging all credit card holders an annual membership fee of $25 or $35 a year. Of course, consumers can still request the opportunity to have this fee waived, but that does not mean that it is going to happen.

Inactivity Fees

Although the implementation of inactivity fees seems to be off to a slow start, consumers should expect more and more credit card issuers to start issuing inactivity fees. Banks and credit card companies want consumers who are going to use their credit card accounts and they are going to start to punish those consumers who don’t with an inactivity fee. Banks are even toying around with the idea of implementing this charge against bank patrons who hold inactive accounts in their banks.

Whether or not you should simply close the account in order to avoid the inactivity fee is a personal decision. A card holder’s credit score needs to be taken into consideration here. After all, if you hold ten inactive accounts or more and you suddenly close them all, think about the resultant effect upon your credit score. You are decreasing the overall amount of credit that you have available to you all at one time.

Can you afford to take the hit to your credit score? If you have an excellent credit score or you aren’t planning on obtaining any new credit anytime soon, you might be able to take the hit. However, in general, the rule of thumb guideline here states that consumers should avoid closing more than one account every three months if they don’t want to experience any impact on their credit score. Only you can make this type of decision based upon your personal circumstances.

The Under-21 Credit Card Holder

The feel of a fresh credit card in the hand of a college student is no longer going to be a rite of passage for some students. Tougher guidelines have made it impossible for the under-21 crowd to obtain a credit card account so readily. Gone are the days of free t-shirts, water bottles, and yes, even electronic devices that were given to those college students who signed on the dotted line for a credit card of their own.

Banks and credit card companies are no longer permitted to target college students with enticements designed to get them to sign on the dotted line. In general, this could be a good thing as some young adults have not yet learned how to avoid excess when it comes to new experiences. Unfortunately, young adults with a history of being responsible are going to find it to be just as difficult to obtain a new credit card before the age of 21 unless they can find a willing co-signer such as a parent or guardian.

Consenting to Over-the-Limit Fees

In the past, credit card issuers did not need the cardholder’s permission in order to charge them an over-the-limit fee for charging more than their credit card limit allowed. Unless consumers agree to the over-the-limit fee, they cannot make any purchases that go above their credit card account limit and the transaction will be denied. The credit card companies and banks are most likely the losers with this one as many consumers are not going to agree to this type of fee.

The best way for credit card holders to protect themselves over the coming months is to thoroughly read every single piece of documentation that arrives at their mailbox from their credit card issuers. Additionally, since fees and interest charges are listed on credit card statements, it is essential to continue reading these statements thoroughly in order to discover any changes that your account has undergone.

Intro: The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 has gone into effect. What does it mean for you? Are consumers going to take any hits for these changes as the credit industry lashes back with changes of its own?

If you are struggling with credit card debt, contact Debt Fix to find the right debt solution for you.