Wells Fargo is jacking up its credit card rates.
The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD), which was passed by Congress earlier this year, will limit how credit card companies can raise interest rates on consumers when the second part of the legislation takes effect next year. But before that can happen at least one bank has chosen to increase consumers’ rates in a step many feel is in response to the new law.
Last week Wells Fargo announced that it would be raising the rates on many of its customers by 3 percent, but the company says the rate change is not a reaction to the legislation.
“This is something we’ve been contemplating for quite a period of time,” Kevin Rhein, head of card services for the bank told Bloomberg, following the announcement.
This at a time when interest rates are at or near near zero.
Rates on three- and six-month bills have been below 1 percent for months, reflecting a campaign by the Federal Reserve to push down short-term borrowing costs in an effort to help the economy emerge from the longest recession since the 1930s.
Fed officials at their meeting last month left the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, at an all-time low of zero to 0.25 percent. The funds rate has been at that level since December.
Obviously, the best consumer advice anyone can heed is to just not use credit cards, or when you do, pay them off. Easier said than done for a lot of folks during bad economic times.
If you want to understand the populist outrage that exists in this country, the financial sector is a good place to start looking. Whether Wells Fargo is acting ahead of new laws or not, it’s acting directly ahead of the Christmas shopping season. That can’t be good for retailers.
It’s not the responsibility of ordinary consumers who play by the rules to help gigantic banks gain profits to offset the financial calamity caused by the housing bubble or the absorption of failed institutions. I’ve never cut up a credit card and mailed it back to a bank, it’s easier to just not use it. Sure, consumers are sometimes pretty much forced to have a credit card when renting a car or hotel room, but other than that, cash will do.
I still don’t understand why there seems to be little questioning of the right of big banks to pay incredibly crappy interest rates to regular depositors, yet charge consumers multiples of 10 or twenty times that interest rate. Then they tack on fees that more than negate any interest rates they pay to regular folks. But I guess you need an MBA to understand why this is good for business, because it seems to be good for only one set of businesses, and that would be the big banks.
Sure, banks should make some money on the interest rate differential, but wouldn’t logic dictate it be more like five percent or something? Would ten percent be enough? I mean, it’s all gravy, they get the gravy for being big and being a bank and getting to borrow money for free.
Where’s the gravy for the little people? I would please like to borrow eleventy trillion dollars at zero percent, and then I will be a big bank and I will charge people five percent interest, and I will be rich beyond my wildest dreams. I’ll even throw in free toaster ovens, maybe some calendars. The Fed knows where to find me, I’m sure.