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Third Phase of Credit CARD Act Finally Arrives

[caption id="attachment_1624" align="alignleft" width="243" caption=" "]Photo by Andres Rueda[/caption]

Has it not felt like an eternity since President Obama first signed the Credit CARD Act into law? Here we are almost 15 months after the stroke of his pen, and we're still waiting for the final round of new credit card rules to take effect.

Fortunately, we don't have to wait much longer. Beginning August 22nd, here are five of the final key changes you should expect to see from your credit card companies:

Mortgage or Credit Card: Which Would You Pay First?

[caption id="attachment_1606" align="alignleft" width="300" caption=" "]Photo by Respres[/caption]

A recent TransUnion study found that the percentage of Americans behind on their mortgage but current on their credit cards increased nearly 55 percent between early 2008 and the third quarter of 2009.

And while the amount of consumers we're talking about is still relatively small (6.6%), I find the overall trend to be quite compelling. Clearly, consumers are beginning to think differently about the priority of their debts.

How to Close Credit Cards for Deceased Relatives

When a loved one passes away, the last thing on your mind is their credit card bills. However, in order to protect the deceased's estate from additional charges, fees, or even identity theft, it's important to remember that your loved one's credit cards will remain open and active until you take the following three steps.

Ask Creditnet: How In-Store Financing Can Hurt Your Credit Scores

 Dear Creditnet: I'm currently in the market for a new TV and Best Buy is offering 0% financing for three years. My question is when you open an account like this, how big of a hit does your FICO score usually take and how long will it take to rebound? I could easily pay cash for the TV up front, but the "finance" person in me says it's free money—why not take the terms?

Free FICO Scores Coming Soon!

[caption id="attachment_1562" align="alignleft" width="255" caption=" "]Photo by dbking[/caption]

There's a lot of free credit scores floating around the Internet, but as I've written about in previous posts, none of them are actually credit scores that matter. Often advertised by the credit bureaus themselves, these scores may give you a rough estimate of where your true FICO scores stand, but that's about the only purpose they should serve.

If you ever want to know your real FICO credit scores, the ones the vast majority of lenders rely upon when assessing your credit risk, the best option has always been to purchase them directly from myFico.com. And while this is still the case, many consumers will now have a way to get a peek at their FICO scores for FREE.

Don't get too excited though—it's not as great as it sounds. Here's how things have changed.

Ask Creditnet: Switching to a No Annual Fee Credit Card

Discover More

Dear Creditnet: I currently have a credit card that expires in August 2010. This card has an annual fee, and I'm tired of paying it every year.

Do I have to cancel my card in order to apply for a different card from the same credit card company with no annual fee?

Minimum Purchase Requirements Stink

[caption id="attachment_1524" align="alignleft" width="300" caption=" "]Photo by Andy Newson[/caption]

Ever stopped by a convenience store to quickly buy a drink with your credit card only to have the cashier point to a tiny sign taped to the wall that says "Sorry—The Minimum Credit Card Purchase is $5"? How inconvenient is that?

I understand all the costs small business owners must endure to accept credit cards, but as a consumer, I think minimum purchase requirements really stink. Credit cards are all about convenience, and businesses that choose to accept them in an effort to conveniently grow their revenues shouldn't be allowed to inconvenience customers by placing restrictions on when they can or can't use credit cards.

Expect the Unexpected

In mid-May, I had an experience that made me think about the importance of being prepared for the worst.  I live in Bangkok with my wife and infant son.  We moved back here a couple of years ago because my work focuses on Asian markets. Of course, we also wanted to live in a cheap, stable, tropical paradise.

Ask Creditnet: Dealing with Closed Credit Card Accounts

 

 

Dear Creditnet: I recently lost my job and won't be able to make next month's credit card payment. So I called the credit card company to discuss my options. Less than a week later, they closed my account without even notifying me. I was told by a customer service agent that it didn't matter whether I closed the account or they did because it affects my credit the same. Is this true? Also, is there a way to get this off my credit report now? Or should I just wait for it to go to collections and then negeotiate a "pay for delete"?

Surprise! Credit Card Issuers Can Still Jack Your Rates

[caption id="attachment_1486" align="alignleft" width="312" caption=" "]Photo by Kevin Zheng Li[/caption]

It amazes me that a lot of people haven't heard of the CARD Act yet. Perhaps I'm just biased because I spend a lot of time reading financial sites, but it seems like the CARD Act is one of those laws that's received an extensive amount of media hype since it was passed last year. How could anyone completely miss it?

I do happen to come across a friend or relative who knows what the CARD Act is from time to time, and when I do I like to ask them what change they think will matter the most to their wallets. Surprisingly, the general response is the same in almost every case—"no more interest rate increases on existing balances."

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