Consumers are happier with their credit cards now than they’ve been in years, due largely to a new federal law that curbs fee and interest hikes, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports. The number of people saying their credit card companies treated them unfairly has dropped by nearly half in the two years since the law was passed, from 22 percent in 2009 to 12 percent now.
“Things are looking rosier for credit-card holders,” Noreen Perrotta, finance editor for Consumer Reports, said in a press release. “Consumers are paying down balances and facing fewer punitive actions by credit-card companies such as higher rates, late-payment fees, and canceled cards.”
Improved customer satisfaction doesn’t just apply to existing credit card holders; new ones are happier, too. Only 14 percent of people who applied for cards were denied in 2011, down from 24 percent a year ago.
Still, credit card companies are not about to win any popularity contests. Just over a third of consumers surveyed said they experienced at least one credit card-related problem in the last year, including higher interest rates, lower credit limits, new annual fees or cutbacks on rewards.
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Also, “credit cards remain one of the lowest-rated services Consumer Reports has ever analyzed,” according to the release, with only 51 percent of consumers saying they were highly satisfied with their cards. Customers may be voting with their feet, as the median credit card balance dropped from $3,793 in 2010 to $3,414 today.
Consumer Reports credited the improvement in consumers’ attitudes toward credit cards to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. The sweeping law included a variety of consumer protections, including a prohibition on interest rate increases on existing balances unless the cardholder has missed two consecutive payments, and the requirement that companies give 45 days’ notice before raising interest rates on future purchases.
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