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Credit Cards' New Fee Tricks

Credit card companies are going to lose out on $12 billion a year thanks to a law that goes into effect Monday, but they’re already figuring out ways to make that money back—measures that could cost the average consumer even more. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, passed in May, requires cardholders to be notified of how long it would take to pay off their balance if they pay just the minimum each month, prevents them from going over their limit without a previous agreement to pay a penalty, and allows interest-rate increases on new purchases only. Banks are grumbling about the new rules, which come as many are still trying to rehabilitate their balance sheets in the wake of the financial crisis. To compensate, credit card companies will be raising annual rates and adding new fees. Citigroup, for example, now offers a card with a 10 percent interest rate—which spikes to 29 percent if the cardholder doesn’t pay on time.