Credit Card Bill Poised for Passage

Legislation would end tiny print and surprise rate increases.


In general, Plunkett says, research shows that consumers pay attention to three things when they get a new card: the annual fee, any rewards, and the initial interest rates. But the problems that consumers run into relate to the much more complicated pricing policies, such as late fees, over-the-limit fees, and unexpected interest rate increases. "The best-educated consumers have still fallen victim to the traps and tricks," he says.

Meanwhile, credit card companies are increasingly worried about their own financial situations. Several issuers have reported charge-off rates, the percentage of loans that companies don't expect to get repaid, of over 7 percent. Analysts say that number could get as high as 10 percent by the end of the year.