Citibank recently announced that they would be eliminating the controversial universal default clause from all of their accounts. At the same time, Citi announced that is also eliminating “any time for any reason” increases to the rates and fees of its customers’ accounts.

Traditionally, credit card issuers have taken the position that they can increase rates and fees at any time for any reason. As a result of the new policy, Citi will not voluntarily increase the rates and fees of any cardholder accounts until the card expires and a new card is issued (typically 2 years).

Chase also announced recently that they would eliminate the equally controversial double or two cycle billing method of calculating finance charges. This method of computing finance charges results in significantly higher finance or interest charges for cardholders who carry a balance on occasion. Chase also said it will ease up on some fees it charges customers who go over their credit limit (aka credit line). The company will stop over-limit fees at 90 days.

cardbenefitsIf you are unhappy with your current card for any reason (fees, rates, etc.), then you should definitely call your card company to complain. The card issuers are more receptive to cardholder requests now than they have been in many years due to the intense political and media pressure they are feeling. Use this pressure to your advantage! Many times a simple 5 minute phone call will lower your rate by several percentage points resulting in hundreds of dollars in savings. At the same time, most issuers are willing to reverse a $39 late fee at least once a year or so.

If you don’t get the results that you want from your current issuer, then start comparison shopping! The average credit card interest rate is currently around 15%. If your credit score is 700 or better, you should qualify for a rate around 10%. Shop for the best low rate and low introductory rate card offers, as well as info. on how to obtain your credit score for free.