The Fed Toys With Idea Of Relieving Your Credit Card Crisis

'Tis the season for shopping and spending.

"A lot of people, this year, will probably use more credit because of [the] economic times," said Kevin Fridinger.

"With a credit card, by the time you get home, the bill is in the mailbox," said Karen Dickerson, who is sticking with cash.

She said some of her own cards now have new restrictions.

"It's kind of strange to me that the Feds are lowering the interest rate, but hasn't anybody noticed that the rate on your credit card keeps climbing, and climbing, and climbing?"

Dickerson said it's not fair.

The Fed is looking to end practices like "double cycle billing". Credit card companies would no longer be allowed to charge interest on debt consumers have already paid.  It would also require companies to ditch the "small print" and clearly list when payments are due.

There's also the issue of "universal defaults."

"If you've been behind on one [card], they can then increase your interest rate," said Glyndel Corzine with Consumer Credit Counseling in Tyler.

She said that's one way creditors have tried to recoup their debt.  But that's not all.

"Late fees are up to $39 a month. Over-the-limit fees are $39 a month, many times," she said.

Corzine said interest rates for good customers can also increase.

The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, H. R. 5244, passed in the U.S. House.  It aimed at ending unfair rate increases, letting consumers set hard credit limits to end those over the limit fees, and ending unfair penalties to card holders who pay on time.  It stalled in the Senate.

"Naturally, it's going to be at the expense of the customer," Corzine said.

She recommended paying balances on time, budgeting, and paying off balances in full each month. That way, your interest rate won't matter.

Drafters of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights plan to re-introduce the bill when Congress reconvenes.  They say this issue needs to be addressed in a "lasting way that only legislation can provide."

Layron Livingston, Reporting.