Credit Card Companies Are Circling the Wagons

As the economy continues its downward spiral companies and individuals are doing whatever they can to reduce the damage to their pocketbooks. As families tighten the purse strings and eliminate unnecessary spending, many companies are doing whatever it takes to retain consumer business. It makes sense to try and keep your customers happy when you rely on their purchases to sustain your business. One industry not playing by the current rules is the credit card industry.

While they may be interested in keeping your business, their main concern at this time is collecting their money that was so freely dispensed over the last several years while limiting the amount of money it lends out today. As more and more people fall behind on their payments, credit card issuers are becoming more aggressive in an attempt to limit their loses. If you use credit cards, more importantly if you carry a balance on your account, it is important you are aware of the changes taking place in the credit industry.

Lending institutions are making changes in the following areas:

  • Raising interest rates. It used to be that interest rates were largely determined by your credit worthiness. That is no longer the case. Both new and existing customers can expect increased interest rates regardless of payment or credit history.

  • Higher credit score needed to obtain credit. A credit score that would have guaranteed approved credit a year ago is not going to cut it in the current economic climate. Lenders are requiring better than average credit scores to limit their risks.
  • Reduced credit limits. On both new and existing accounts, lower credit limits are being applied to accounts. You read that correctly, even if you have an established relationship and a perfect history with your lender, they can lower your available credit at their discretion.

  • Strict enforcement of terms and conditions. If you have a problem with your online bill pay and your payment doesn't go through, do not expect a courtesy refund for fees accrued. If you are late, even by a day, your interest rate will go up and you will be assessed a late payment fee.

  • Higher minimum payments. Many individuals have already seen an increase in the required minimum payment within the last several months. If you have not yet seen an increase, prepare yourself for one in the future.
What can you do to reduce the financial damage these changes will surely bring? The only sure-fire way to reduce your risk is to not carry a balance on your card. If you are deep in debt and paying off your account is simply not an option, you should look into other debt relief programs that can help you on your path to financial freedom. The only way to protect yourself in today's economy is by reducing your debt all together.