Credit Cards: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The CARD Act takes effect today. Hooray! No more retroactive interest rate increases! Overdraft protection is opt-in! Fees have to be clearly labeled!

But the hills are alive with reports of what credit card companies are doing to make up for this. The New York Times reports that fees on international transactions are likely to go up without anyone telling you. Felix Salmon reports that banks are now pushing reward cards heavily because they have higher interchange fees. The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls (ground zero for credit card companies) reports that subprime cards now carry interest rates of 79.9%. The Washington Post reports that clever new fees are proliferating to make up for the old ones. And of course, as MoJo and a cast of thousands have reported, card companies have been busily raising rates on everyone for months in preparation for the great day.

Bottom line: don’t take your eye off the ball yet. Some of the most egregious abuses are gone, but new ones are bound to spring up. If you have any good stories of your own to tell, leave ’em in comments.

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Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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