Amy Greenstein is one of many Americans who's carrying less debt these days.
She says, "I pay off my bills immediately, 'cause I can't stand paying the extra interest."
A survey of Americans by the Consumer Reports National Research Center says the average credit card balance is down to about $3,800... $1,100 lower than in 2009. But this doesn't mean people are happier with credit card companies.
Greg Daugherty with Consumer Reports found, "In fact, it's one of the lowest-rated services we've ever analyzed, right down there with computer tech support."
Federal reforms now require a mandatory 'minimum-payment warning' on all bills. It spells out the consequences of making only the minimum payment. In this case, a four-thousand dollar debt will take 24 years to pay off and end up costing more than eight-thousand dollars.
Greg says, "23% of the people we surveyed said it has encouraged them to pay off their balances quicker."
But Consumer Reports says there are still 'Credit Card Gotchas' as banks try to make up for lost revenue.
"Interest rates are the highest they've been in almost 10 years, and fees have also climbed."
First Premier Bank MasterCard is one of the worst offenders, charging as much as 59-point-9 percent interest. That's on top of a $75 annual fee and a processing fee that can be as high as $95.
But Consumer Reports has found two cards worth considering that don't charge any fees. They're the PenFed Promise Visa, which offers a 7-point-49 A-P-R for three years, and the Simmons First Visa Platinum, which offers a
7-point-25 variable A-P-R.
If you feel you've been treated unfairly by your credit card company, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
And if you want to get a card that offers a lower rate, before you switch cards, Consumer Reports says call your card's customer service department. If you're turned down by the first person who takes your call, politely ask for a supervisor and try again.
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