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Your next credit card statement could be a shocker. For the first time, you may see just how much that card is costing you. Say you pay the minimum on a $3,000 balance with a 14 percent interest rate. Your creditor will be required to let you know it could take about a decade to pay off the amount. “Jaws will drop,” David Robertson, publisher of the industry-tracking Nilson Report, tells The Associated Press. “I don’t doubt for a nanosecond that it’s going to give a lot of people a sinking feeling in their stomachs.” As of today, key provisions of the new, sweeping protections for credit card customers go into effect, following months of preparation by companies, including hiked interest rates for many customers with seemingly good credit, notes The Denver Post. In October, Citi Bank hiked Robin Lehmann’s interest rate to 23.99 percent, from a manageable 16.99 percent. “It’s not fair, especially for a longtime customer with the good credit rating I had,” says the Aurora resident.
Now, under the Credit CARD Act of 2009, companies will no longer be able to take consumers by surprise with higher interest rates unless card holders have a variable-rate card or are 60 days late on a minimum payment. Over-limit fees aren’t allowed unless consumers agree to them and long-standing practices, such as double-cycle billing and retroactive rate hikes, are now banned. “Yet even as the tougher rules ban certain practices that have cost card-using consumers billions of dollars through the years, card companies are assembling a new arsenal of fees designed to keep the revenue rolling in,” reports the Orlando Sentinel.