Get Gephardt: Your credit card can up your interest rate without telling you

Sep 27, 2022, 10:29 PM
Photo illustration (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)...
Photo illustration (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — If your credit card company raises your interest rate even just a little bit, it could have a significant impact on how long it takes you to get out of debt. A relatively new law means your credit card company can do just that and they do not even have to give you the heads up.

Last week, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates again in the hopes of putting the brakes on inflation. Fed officials signaled there could be additional rate hikes to come. While many of the headlines focus on what this will mean for big purchases, like a home or car, it is worth noting that anybody who carries credit card debt is probably paying more, too.

“I think that a lot of people don’t realize that even your existing credit card debt, the rate on that is changing because of what the Fed is doing,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst with Bankrate.

You might not realize it because your credit card company doesn’t have to tell you Rossman said.

After the CARD Act went into effect in 2010, nearly all credit cards adopted a variable structure – where they can legally increase the rate you pay when the Fed raises rates, and they are not required to notify you.

“So, in other words, your credit card rate now is probably three full percentage points higher than it was back at the start of March,” said Rossman.

It can really add up over time, especially if you are only making minimum payments.

Bankrate conducted a survey and found that most people who carry credit card debt, 70%, got there because they either had some sort of emergency or inflation has made it impossible for them to make it paycheck-to-paycheck anymore.

“It’s probably not a shopping spree, it’s probably something very practical,” said Rossman. “But it’s one of these things that’s easy to get into and hard to get out of.”

About half of all credit card holders carry debt from month to month. If you are one of them, chances are you are paying more for that debt than you were a few months ago.

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Get Gephardt: Your credit card can up your interest rate without telling you