Two days before the Federal Reserve Board is to adopt rules restricting certain credit card practices, a consumer advocacy group urged regulators to go further.
The Center for Responsible Lending on Tuesday published reports on card companies' interest rate and cash advance practices, arguing that consumers could not possibly be expected to understand the details of either set.
One report said most borrowers who are being charged penalty rates on their credit cards are unaware of it. The use of penalty fees increased 69% from 2003 to 2007, the study said. About 11% of all cardholders pay penalty rates. Some rates are raised to penalty levels if a borrower is one day late on a payment, and the new rate is applied to past charges, the report said.
The other report said most borrowers do not know that the payments they make toward a card balance containing both purchases and cash advances will go toward purchases first, leaving them paying the higher interest rates on cash advances.
Though the Fed is set to tackle that issue — among others — when it adopts the credit card rules Thursday, the consumer group said regulators should limit the amount by which an interest rate can be raised and require card companies to give clear reasons for raising rates.