In what could ultimately be a game-changer in the credit card industry, it appears credit card companies are considering charging customers a new sort of annual fee – for paying off your balance each month. The information is coming slow, but I did find a good article by USA Today, Latest Bank Fee is for Paying Off Credit Card On Time Every Month, that runs down a few of the cards and their new tactics.
Credit card companies, and their defenders, will of course point to the new Credit CARD Act, which will limit revenue opportunities for credit card companies. However, in my mind, this is yet another customer-losing reaction to the impending legislation. You can blame the law of unintended consequences and thank the government, or you can blame the credit card issuers and close your accounts.
In the past, any time I’ve mentioned closing all my credit cards and living on cash, I get dozens of comments extolling the benefits of using a credit card. There are reward programs, and added consumer protection policies, and of course the convenience factor. To sell their position, fans of credit cards always pointed out that you could simply pay off the balance every month to avoid interest and fees. What if that isn’t true in the very near future? Does that change their opinion? Does it change yours?
Just when I start to get comfortable using my one remaining credit card (I use it to run through gas and utility payments and pay it off at the end of the month), news like this comes out and makes me skeptical of credit card companies all over again.
At what point do we just make ourselves immune to the whims of bank CEOs and government officials and say to heck with credit cards? Just shred ‘em! Well, I am getting pretty close to that point. If the issuer of my last card decides to play these fee games I’ll take a pair of sharp shears to it and live on cash. Come to think of it, I doubt I’d miss them.