October 29 2009, 11:24 AM
Gee thanks, Mark Udall and Betsy Markey. But where were you during all those months when people were complaining that credit card companies were jacking up their rates? And what were you thinking, Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, when you gave credit-card banks all that time to adjust to new consumer protections that would prevent companies from increasing interest rates on their customers without notice? That's more or less the tone of this Wall Street Journal article, which highlights lawmakers' latest efforts to stop banks from gouging consumers before a law goes into effect three months from now. "At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, jacked up rates can quickly create crushing debt," Dodd says in a statement. The Journal responds: "If customers are being taken to the cleaners, it is because lawmakers like Mr. Dodd sent them there," adding that Dodd's words are, in essence, political grandstanding. Moreover, the Journal concludes that new legislation is unlikely because it, too, would probably hurt consumers. Still, lawmakers are trying, including U.S. Senator Udall and U.S. Representative Markey (pictured), both Colorado Democrats, as The Denver Post reports. Meanwhile, if you're pinched by a credit card, or considering applying for one, perhaps the best way to help yourself is to abandon the big commercial banks for a responsible credit union, suggests Forbes, citing a new study by Pew Health Group. The study finds the median interest rates for credit cards from the nation's largest credit unions are 20 percent lower than those for bank-issued cards.