Credit Card Bill of Rights

Both the US House and the US Senate passed a bill to restrict credit card practices and eliminate sudden increases in interest rates and late fees.  Here are some of the major provisions of the bill and how it will affect you (via

  • Creditors cannot increase the annual percentage rate (APR) during the first 12 months of opening up an account.
  • Creditors are required to provide consumers with a 45-day advance notice of changes in rates and significant contract changes. Rates that change due to a change in the index that the rate is based on are excluded from this 45-day notice requirement.
  • Promotional rates need to be in effect for at least six months from the beginning date of that promotion.
  • Creditors need to provide a 30-day advance notice of an account closure.
  • With certain exceptions, credit card issuers are prohibited from charging a finance charge based on the double billing cycle method.
  • Creditors are prohibited from charging a fee on an outstanding credit card balance at the end of the billing period if the fee is attributed to the interest accrued on an outstanding balance that was fully repaid during that preceding billing period.

Read the full summary of provisions.

As of this blog post the President had not signed it but he has promised he will.

Interest Rates to Stay Low for “Extended Period”

The Federal Open Market Committee met today and decided to keep the Federal Funds Rate between 0% and 0.25%. Below is a quote from a very good analysis on Businessweek:

The FOMC stuck to its target range for the federal funds rate at 0% to 0.25%, and signaled that rates are likely to remain at exceptionally low levels “for an extended period.” This reference stopped short of giving a timeline of 18 to 24 months for the current policy, as anticipated by some market participants.

So, money will remain cheap for the immediate term. This doesn’t necessarily affect mortgage rates but the heavy government involvement in the mortgage market ensures that mortgage rates will continue to remain low as well.

Who Qualifies for Mortgage Assistance?

WSJOnline has a very useful chart and great article today on who qualifies for the recently announced mortgage rescue plan.

Mortgage Assistance

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