Well, if there ever was any question about who holds sway in the halls of Congress, the outcome of the effort to regulate the credit-card industry to provide a little consumer protection. Who owns Congress? Big industries with deep enough pockets to hire persistent, heavy-hitting lobbyists, that’s who.
Have you received your notice from American Express yet? Mine came a couple days ago: a flatly worded announcement that late fees and interest rates are going up.
Not that I care: I don’t carry a balance on any credit card, and though I charge almost every purchase as a matter of convenience, I make it a point to pay well in advance of the due date.
Betcha this isn’t the last we’ll hear from AMEX on the subject. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that American Express and other major card issuers are canceling hundreds of cardholders’ accounts without explanation and without notice. In many cases, the canceled accounts are deemed inactive because the cardholders haven’t used them in some months. But at least a few accounts, including one reported in that W. St. J. article, belong to people who use their cards, never miss a payment, and pay off balances monthly.
Over at Freep, commentator Brian Dickerson calls the new legislation “regulation a regulated industry can love.” He points out that Congress rejected the only provision that would have given consumers any meaningful protection—a cap on the already usurious interest rates card issuers can charge. Says Dickerson:
In the end, card issuers preserved both their right to charge whatever the market will bear and their right to abruptly cancel a cardholder’s credit without advance notice.
Uh huh. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Politics is money, money politics.
Yep, I sure did say it before!