Here’s a guest post article written a few weeks ago by Nickel of Five Cent Nickel, he’s been around the PF blogosphere since 2005 (that’s… like dinosaur ages in terms of blogging!) and he wanted to show you how to read your new credit card statement.  Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, they have changed.  The credit card companies are now (by law) supposed to disclose to you more than you used to, so you can actually realize (and have an “ah-ha!” moment) how much debt you’re getting yourself into if you don’t pay it off.  Bad for credit card companies, good for you and your wallet.

Written by Nickel of Five Cent Nickel

Have you received a credit card statement yet this month? If so, did you notice anything different about it? I ask because, as of July 1, your credit card statement has to meet specific formatting guidelines laid out by the Federal Reserve. These requirements are part of a larger set of rules put into place by the Fed back in 2008. According to Randall Kroszner of the Federal Reserve, the goal is to: “…increase transparency and fairness in how credit card and deposit accounts operate, thereby enhancing competition and empowering consumers to better manage their accounts and avoid unnecessary costs. The rules represent a significant step forward in consumer protection. By ensuring fairness and making credit terms easier to understand, these safeguards should allow more consumers to benefit from using credit.” The new reporting requirements include a clear summary of your account activity and payment information, a late payment warning stating any fees or penalty rates that you might trigger, a warning as to how long it will take to pay off your balance (and how much it will cost) if you only make the minimum payments, clear disclosure of any account changes including those related to interest rates, and so on. To better illustrate these changes, we’ve assembled an infographic (below) that highlights the new requirements. Simply hover over a number for details. And if you’d like to see a larger version of the image, simply click on it.

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