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New Credit Card Rules Take Effect To Protect Consumers

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Credit card (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Credit card (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — New rules went into effect Sunday for credit and gift card users. The new regulations are designed to protect the public from abusive practices by card issuers.

“I’ve been nickel-and-dimed to death,” Upper West Side resident Diane Fanizza said. “I’m disgusted, and it’s about time.”

Hidden fees and tricky expiration dates have tormented credit card customers, prompting the federal government to crack down.

Now, banks cannot raise interest rates without explaining why, and have to reevaluate an increase every six months.

Penalty fees are capped at $25 in most cases, and double penalties – including double whammies of late payment and going over your credit limit – have been eliminated.

Inactivity fees have been dropped as well. Consumers are glad that the new rules have taken effect, but they’re not entirely convinced.

“I say hooray, but I’m still a little skeptical,” Queens resident Daniela Costarelo said. “They’ll find some undercover way to get you to pay more.”

“They always find a way to sneak in some kind of fee,” said Harlem resident Mercedes Conejo.

New rules have also been put into effect for gift cards.

Last year, Americans spent $88 billion on gift cards, but at least $5 billion of that went unused. A new federal rule extends the expiration date.

“In the past, it might have been a year or less than that, and now it has to be five,” Rebecca Jarvis, business and economics correspondent for CBS News, said. “Now, you have five years before the card expires.

If you get a gift card that expires within those five years, it’s important to remember that the money is still in there. Just return to the company or store, and you can get a replacement card for free.

This was the final phase of federal legislation called the Card Act.

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