JPMorgan Chase & Co. is raising some credit card balance-transfer fees to 5%, the highest among the nation's largest banking companies, citing growing regulation and costs after the government adopted curbs on the industry.
The biggest credit card issuer disclosed the increase in a notice mailed to customers this month that referred to "new federal regulations." The fee hike will take effect in August, about six months before a law designed to limit interest rate increases, fees and marketing practices takes effect.
The rate increase also affects cash advances, and fixed rates will become variable, the notice said. The company did not specify the current average fee for balance transfers, and JPMorgan Chase spokesman Paul Hartwick would not say how many customers are affected. The notice says the company may choose to offer a lower transfer fee; Hartwick would not say how customers might qualify.
"In the current economic environment, our costs of doing business have been impacted by increased losses," he said by e-mail. "We are increasing balance-transfer fees to reflect the increasing costs."
JPMorgan Chase's 5% fee tops the 4% that Bank of America Corp. adopted June 1, citing rising costs.
"This is the highest balance-transfer fee in the industry," said Bill Hardekopf, the chief executive officer of LowCards.com, a Birmingham, Ala., research firm. "It is setting a … precedent that I'm afraid other issuers may follow."