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2) New fees
2) New fees
Rep. Barney Frank hopes a new consumer protection agency can curb credit card fees.
Fees aren't just rising -- they're multiplying. Cardholders are getting slapped with fees they've never seen before.

The hitch: New laws can address only existing fees and business practices; they can't predict what credit card companies will do in the future.

"Theoretically, they could create a fee for names that begin with 'J,'" said Lowcards.com's Hardekopf.

In reality, customers are seeing new annual fees, inactivity charges and more. Not of these charges are unheard of, but many fees that were unusual are becoming commonplace.

Earlier this month, for instance, some Bank of America customers were shocked to learn that their no-fee credit cards would be subject to a new annual fee.

BofA spokeswoman Betty Riess said the fees are part of a company test that affects 0.5% of all consumer accounts, and that the fees range from $29-$99.

The charges will be levied in February, and Riess said customers were chosen "based on risk and profitability" but have the option to reject the fees by canceling their accounts.

Fifth Third Bank recently introduced a $19 inactivity fee for customers who don't charge anything for 12 months, and Citibank is hitting some consumers with a fee if they put less than $2,400 on their card annually.

To address this problem, House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has proposed a new regulatory body, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would approve new credit card fees. While the House Financial Service Committee approved the agency, it remains to be seen whether legislation will pass; lawmakers are battling over this and other reform proposals floating around Washington.

NEXT: 3) Higher minimum monthly payments

Last updated October 26 2009: 3:56 PM ET
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