A 2009 law has saved consumers billions in harsh fees over the past few years.
A new report shows consumers paid $17.8 billion in penalty fees on their credit cards last year, an 8 percent decline from the $19.4 billion in 2011. Penalty fees reached $23.9 billion in 2009, but fell 6 percent in 2010 ($22.5 billion), 14 percent in 2011 ($19.4 billion) and now 8 percent in 2012.
Why? The CARD Act, legislation that capped late fees and blocked over-the-limit fees unless customers gave permission.
It’s saved consumers a lot of money, but lenders are resourceful and have come up with ways to make it up: watch out for fees on replacement cards, paper statements, inactive accounts and excessive customer service calls.