Credit card issuers are an inventive bunch, always creating new ways to entice consumers into signing up for cards, and to charge those consumers all sorts of fees for using those cards. I’m constantly shocked by the number of letters we receive in the mail from credit card companies—these guys have to be keeping the postal service in business—with a new card promotion or just a new call-out to sign up for a card.
Since a new law passed restricting how credit cards can increase rates and who exactly they can market their cards to (no more flooding college kids with credit card offers), the companies are getting even more inventive, as USA Today reports. Charges for annual fees and purchases abroad are up, and companies like Fifth Third Bank have introduced inactivity fees: $19 if you don’t use your card over a 12-month period. They’re basically asking people to cancel their accounts, or perhaps the goal is to winnow down the number of smart (conscious?) customers and only keep those that are dumb enough to pay something as absurd as an inactivity fee.
There’s also something that Citibank calls a “reinstatement fee”:
Citigroup, meanwhile, has rolled out a policy where certain credit card borrowers who pay late are subject to a “reinstatement fee” to be able to redeem accumulated points for rewards. This fee is currently $0. But it won’t stay that way, predicts Robert Hammer, who consults with the industry, if Citigroup finds cardholders aren’t objecting to the policy. Citigroup spokesman Samuel Wang says, “We currently have no plans to raise it.”
Um, duh, if the idea was that the fee was always going to remain at $0, why the heck was it introduced in the first place?