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5 evil things credit card companies can (still) do

The credit card reform bill tries to help cash-strapped customers, but companies are coming up with new ways to boost profits.

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The bill
The bill
President Obama discussed credit-card reform in Rio Rancho, N.M., in May.
Credit card companies are socking it to consumers left and right.

They're hiking interest rates to as much as 36% and doubling minimum monthly payments, frustrating customers who are already cash-strapped and credit-crunched.

In an effort to curb these abusive practices, President Obama signed into law a credit card reform act in May that's rolling out in three parts over 12 months.

At the same time, credit card companies have been hard at work coming up with new ways to boost profits while sidestepping the reforms.

"Card issuers are making sure they can make up the lost money in new ways," said Bill Hardekopf of Lowcards.com, a research company funded by a commercial debt collector.

The first part of the law, which took effect in August, requires banks to give customers more notice ahead of major changes to their accounts, like rate hikes. Starting in February, limits will be imposed on when issuers can raise rates on existing card balances, and on new cards. In August 2010 some credit card penalty fees will be will reined in.

But no legislation can fully shield consumers from the credit card industry's ongoing efforts to boost the bottom line.

The worst part? "All of these hikes are taking place simply because they can," Hardekopf said.

NEXT: 1) Rate hikes
Last updated October 26 2009: 3:56 PM ET
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