Thursday, 08/20/09, Public Square

creditcardsOn May 22, 2009, the Credit CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Barack Obama.  The first of the changes enacted take effect August 20, 2009 — today!  Other provisions of the act take effect February 2010.

Although both consumers and credit card companies are discovering and attempting to take advantage of ‘loopholes,’ some new rules should help consumers manage credit.

Key provisions of the CARD act:

  • — Prohibits retroactive rate increases unless the cardholder is at least 60 days behind in paying the bill. If a person does fall behind and the rate on past buys is increased, lenders must restore the lower rate after six months if the cardholder has paid monthly bills on time.
  • — Requires lenders to post their credit card agreements on the Internet.
  • — Requires that customers receive 45 days notice before rates are increased.
  • — Requires anyone under 21 to prove that they can repay the money before being given a card, or have a parent or guardian promise to pay off their debt if they default.
  • — Prohibits over-the-limit fees unless a cardholder elects to be allowed to go over a limit.
  • — Requires lenders to say how much time it would take and how much money in interest would be paid if only the minimum monthly payments are made.
  • — Requires that gift cards remain valid for five years.
  • — Bans “pay-to-pay” fees, which are charged when someone pays the bill by phone or on the Internet.
  • — Includes unrelated provision that would allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Here’s an article that ran in the local Wichita Eagle.

End of public service announcement.  🙂  What do you want to talk about?



Filed under The Public Square

39 responses to “Thursday, 08/20/09, Public Square

  1. “— Requires that gift cards remain valid for five years. ”


    “Includes unrelated provision that would allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. ”

    See this is what happens when you let pet projects sneak into unrelated bills

  2. David B

    These are a lot of long overdue and helpful reforms!

    What a difference a handful of Democrats can make!

    These commonsense changes were proposed and ignored for so many years!

    This is a good success.

  3. David B

    heehee.. except the gun in the parks thing.. those stinkers!!

  4. WmacW

    They always have to sneak something unrelated into a bill, don’t they?

    Two days left until Monster’s first day of school! I can’t believe how big he has gotten. I miss my baby (mainly because the baby was MUCH easier than the little boy, haha).

    My brain is not yet functioning well enough this morning to have any real conversation. I may try to stop back in later when I am feeling more capable.

    • It’s easy to look back (now that my two sons are 36 and 37) and smile at each stage. There is one you have to look forward to! Around the time they begin to notice girls are different and they aren’t admitting yet that the differences are anything good, but they’re noticing. It almost seems they practice on Mom. Suddenly they are gentlemen and protectors of the ‘weaker’ sex. They comment on your appearance, your cooking, they notice when you buy a new blouse or cut your hair. This seems to be about 11 or 12 and lasts a couple of years. It doesn’t take them long to get the courage to direct their attention to the young girls.

  5. Ted Kennedy is coming to grips with his own mortality. The Boston Globe reports that the senator, who is suffering from brain cancer, has written a letter to Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo asking that the law be changed so that Patrick can appoint a temporary senator to serve the state during the 5-month gap between Kennedy’s potential death and the ensuing special election. The governor had this authority until 2004, when the legislature changed the law to prevent then-Governor Mitt Romney from filling John Kerry’s seat with a Republican, should Kerry win the presidency. Kennedy never liked the new law, but is particularly averse to it now, as Senate Democrats try to rally the troops in advance of a health-care vote. Kennedy and his advisers adamantly denied that the timing of the letter corresponded to any immediate worsening of the senator’s condition.

  6. I’m not smart enough to know what the effects of the credit CARD legislation is going to mean, but I can see there are going to be negatives.

    We aren’t big users of credit cards around here, mainly because we can’t afford to use credit. It does have to be paid back, and we have enough to pay current but none left over. So we pretty much have to pay off something before we can add anything new. We bought a car on credit just over a year ago, when it pays off we might be able to look at another credit purchase.

    We have a MasterCard because I’m not sure life can be lived without a credit card. We buy maintenance meds in a 3-month supply via internet. I do some Christmas shopping online… My kid and grandkid gurus tell me not to use the debit card that is attached to my banking account for online purchases, so I use the credit card. We first applied for a credit card because we wanted to rent a car — can’t do that without one! So life as we live it requires a credit card. Not always, but most of the time we pay the balance in full monthly. We’re not good customers as they rarely make much money off us.

    A few weeks ago we had a letter from our credit card company saying —

    We are increasing the variable APR for purchases.
    — This APR will equal Prime Rate plus 8.99%, with a minimum APR of 14.99%.

    The letter went on in language I now recognize as parts of this new legislation of which the first parts go into effect today, including that I may ‘opt out.’ It told me if I opt out of the changes I could continue to use my account under the current terms until the end of current membership or expiration date on card whichever was later. If I opt out when my account expires it will be closed! No longer may I charge, and if there is a balance on this date the account is closed I will continue to pay it off under current terms. Basically, it would turn into another kind of credit account than what it had been!

    I was shocked! First, this card has never been ‘variable,’ but fixed, and most important our (up to this point!) fixed rate was 5.99%!

    So, I called and opted out.

    That means, I have a credit card until 9/30/10 — the expiration date printed on my card.

    And since closed accounts have some kind of negative connotation on your credit report, maybe I’ve also negatively affected my credit score?

    I still receive the multiple mailings from everyone who wants me to apply for their card. Now, I look at them before throwing them in the trash, since I have need of a credit card. Guess what? So far, none is what credit cards used to be. Variable is now normal, annual fees are now normal, and all kinds of other unattractive and costly features of having a credit card are normal.

    Things changed, and I see that many of the reforms will protect consumers as the legislation intended. But I also see the credit card companies are making changes so they aren’t affected negatively and those counteract the positives of the protection consumers got from the CARD bill.

    Is it possible for Congress to do something good for the people? Has BIG BUSINESS become so entrenched that they actually control everything about our country?

    • wicked

      One of my credit cards went from fixed to variable a year or two ago. The other raised their interest rate a few months ago and went variable. I’m sure the latest was because of the new laws. Are any cc’s fixed anymore? Most I’ve seen aren’t.

  7. I want to add that after my knee-jerk reaction of opting out, and telling them exactly where they could put their variable rate, and their increase and… Did I mention I didn’t handle this in the most graceful way? Anyway, after I did what I did, I thought about it. And I could have taken some time to think, could have waited to see what those credit-card offers that come regularly and are thrown away without reading actually said. Ya know, so I could see whether this was out of line or not. I could have always paid off the balance monthly avoiding paying any interest no matter the rate charged. There were things I could have done better. There always are. I’ll never learn.

  8. jammer5

    It’s Thursday? Whew, for a minute there I thought.

  9. 6176746f6c6c65

    The new law does provide several safeguards to the consumer, but at a price which is that which you have discovered. I suspect that this was the cost to get some protections into the law.

    I would have preferred that the effective date of the new provisions would have been the date the bill was first introduced (much as is done with tax legislation) so there could not have been the games played as they were. I believe the safeguards would not have passed, however, under my preferred action.

    Big business= big dollars (think PACs, e.g.). Follow the money.

    • Yes, safeguards mostly for those who for whatever reasons (and I’m acknowledging there are absolutely valid reasons!) used credit more than they should have. I’m glad for those protections! There are more people today finding, at least temporarily, they have need of credit for such things as eating. The more you need help, the less help there is available!

      See, those who are most disadvantaged always have opportunists to help them get deeper into financial ruin. Someone wants to rent them furniture and appliances that end up costing them a bazillion dollars more, someone offers them payday loans that cost two bazillion dollars more than others pay…

      • wicked

        I was surprised to receive a guaranteed card offer from a company involved in the fiasco of my divorce. Because of traveling, I needed a credit card. That was before debit cards, which I’ve used since then for car rental. I did the cash thing a time or two at hotels, and let me tell you, that can be a royal pain. I took the card offer, which had a low limit and was all I needed at the time. Since then, we’ve used it for other things, recently that doctor visit, and when times were tough, I did the unforgivable and charge groceries. Even though the interest rate was raised, it’s still within reason.

  10. jammer5

    I agree, 6. In Washington, money talks the loudest, and if it appears the money won’t be there for the next election, politicians fold.

    Big business=bought politicians.

  11. A bombshell from another Bush administration tell-all: Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says in his upcoming book that President Bush manipulated the terror-threat alert system for political gain. Ridge says that he was pressured to raise the alert level on the eve of President Bush’s reelection in 2004. “Journalists, including myself, were very skeptical when anti-Bush liberals insisted that what Ridge now says is true, was true,” Marc Ambinder writes. “We were wrong.”

    • wicked

      Well, fnord, you’re much quicker and more well-versed on this than I was. A big DUH from me. 🙂

  12. I read the above at Politico. I remember those warning seeming real convenient at the time.

    I think Karl Rove would do anything. I sure hope they elect to cook his goose over the firings of Justice Dept attorneys. I wonder how many other things they are going find?

    I worked the polls during the 2004 election and some guy was chatting on his cell phone as he left the polling place telling someone on the other end that his vote went for Bush, “because he can keep us the safest.”

    Isn’t manipulating people with fear the very definition of terrorism?

  13. This guy contends there was a corelation between Bush’s poll numbers and the times when terror alerts were trotted out.

    • wicked

      I saw a link today, but didn’t check it out, where Ridge said he was pushed to raise the terror alert just before the 2004 election. Maybe I should go hunt for that…

  14. jammer5

    And now for something really funny:
    From wonkette:
    “I posted a very serious article recently in about witchcraft in the White House, and later realized that your website had made a farce out of it. I saw that your staff and readers made a lot of extremely cruel comments about me and my story. Why are you people so rude? Does anybody take anything seriously anymore?

    Do you really, truly, seriously think it is OK for a president to use a forged birth certificate? Do you actually believe it is appropriate for a man who was raised a Muslim to pretend he is a Christian and go to a church for 20 years with an anti-American preacher? Do you really want a president who was brainwashed by communists since he was a child, up through university, to hate America to be our president? Do you think that it is fine if a family member of the president defiles the White House with voodoo? Don’t you know what fate could befall our nation as a result of allowing Satanic forces to gather over the White House?

    After 8 years of a president sent by God to lead the American people and rescue us from the horrors of 911 and Islamo-fascists, it now boils down to this? How incredibly tragic. You folks don’t really seem to understand the extreme peril that our nation confronts. Stop making fun of me. Take off your blinders! Wake up!”

    • jammer5

      Maybe I should have posted this under Okay, enough politics . . . Comments welcome

      • Except the poster is serious so we can’t laugh or think it’s humor.

        Honestly, did I have my head in the sand? I didn’t know, I didn’t suspect these people existed outside care facilities where they (and we!) were safe.

      • wicked

        Hey, fnord, you must hang around with the right (left) people not to have run into some of these nutjobs.

        Voodoo. Yes, I believe that’s the major “religion” in Chicago. 😉

    • wicked

      Oh, for crying out loud. Just how stupid can people get?

      What’s really sad is that people are blaming Obama for the poor state of the economy. Apparently well over a year before he was elected, he was manipulating it. Must be voodoo, huh?

      Anybody with half a brain knew the economy was on the downside, well before it got really bad. Did Bush try to do anything about it? Oh, hell no! As long as his buddies were packing money in their pockets (and those Swiss bank accounts), he was happy. Sent by God? I’m thinking their God has his (sorry, His) own Swiss account, and that’s where the money for the pearly gates came from. 😉

    • jammer5

      “Stop making fun of me. Take off your blinders! Wake up!”

      I say, “Take off your clothes and get l**d!”

      • wicked

        Tell me honestly, jammer, does that really work? I know my kids have told me to do that. Well, not the ‘take off your clothes’ part, but they seem to think sex cures all. Of course now that two have been married for over a year, they don’t tend to say that nearly as much. LOL

      • Probably if you’re doing it right, you’re not doing much of anything else for at least while you’re doing it. 🙂 Would that be called getting your mind off your troubles?

      • jammer5

        I have no idea, Wicked. I forgot 🙂

      • wicked

        LOL fnord! I don’t know though. They usually say it when I’m in a bitchy mood–which is most of the time these days–so I’d have to issue a Buyer Beware before trying anything. 😉

      • wicked

        Well, jammer, that makes two of us.

        As I tell my kids, it never helped before, why would it now?

        Besides, they’d die–DIE, I tell you–if they learned I took their advice.

        Kids. They should be banned.

  15. David B

    Sadly, closing credit card accounts (decreasing your available credit) LOWERS your FICO score and credit rating…

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. A usual with these guys.

    Something to keep in mind if you are planning to apply for a new mortgage or financing a new car…

    • wicked

      I have a very good friend who pays her bills with her credit card, then pays off the balance at the end of the month. Doing that lowered her credit score, because they don’t like cards that are paid off immediately. Of course they want that interest! That’s what keeps them in business. And what’s my savings worth these days? one point what percent? We’re being raped by the banking industry.

  16. jammer5

    “Sports fishermen take heed: A government test of fish pulled from nearly 300 streams in the USA found every one of them contaminated with some level of mercury.

    The U.S. Geological Survey’s research marks its most comprehensive examination of mercury contamination in stream fish. The study found that 27% of the fish had mercury levels high enough to exceed what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for the average fish eater, those who eat fish twice a week.

    But the findings in wild-caught fish underscore how widespread mercury contamination in the nation’s waterways has become. Previous research has found levels of concern in ocean and lake fish.

    “This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation’s waterways and protect the public from potential health dangers,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. ”

  17. David B

    I just held another squirrel funeral. They frolic and feed in my black walnut trees. When one commits suicide-by-road on my block, I put them beneath the ground under the walnut trees that nourished them. It’s not much trouble, and seems like the thing to do, rather than leaving them where they lie.
    Silly? I dunno. I just do it.

    mmmm… I think I’ll have a handful of nuts!