Living with credit

Emily’s list: Reduced bank fees edition

Emily Crone

A recent Wall Street Journal article (that quoted says that unpopular bank fees are slowly but surely on the decline. I’ll toast to that!

Thanks to the Credit Card Act of 2009 and consumer discontent with bank fees, the major banks have been trimming their penalty rates and fees. Interest rates are worse, according to our data, but if you ever pay a credit card bill late or travel abroad, you will find some major relief from these changes.

credit card fees

Here are some of the recent developments the article mentions:

  • Bank of America now waives late fees on accounts with balances of $100 or less.
  • American Express has removed foreign transaction fees from select credit cards.
  • Wells Fargo has changed its penalty-pricing practices on certain accounts.
  • Citi has gotten rid of some foreign transaction fees.

In addition, credit card industry analyst R.K. Hammer came out with his 2010 report that adds up penalty fees for all issuers, and for the first time since he began tracking the fees in 2003, they fell. They were $22.9 billion in 2009, and slipped to $22.5 billion in 2010. (Don’t cheer too loudly, though — they were just $10.7 billion in 2003, so penalty fees have more than doubled in eight years.

As a frequent traveler, I’m really cheered to see issuers are starting to get rid of foreign transaction fees. Previously, Capital One was the only major card issuer with that benefit, which is why I carry one with me whenever I travel internationally. The article adds that in this current financial climate, consumers have the power (especially if they have a good credit score) and should consider negotiating with banks when setting up accounts to get more favorable rates and fees. Have you tried this?

Keep reading for my list of my top 10 favorite posts from the personal finance blogosphere this week.

1. Bargaineering advises which financial documents you should keep, which you should throw away, and which you should shred and destroy.

2. Budgets are $exy shares a clever guest post about five personal finance lessons we can learn from the Miami Heat basketball team, which struggled early this NBA season, then pulled together.

3. Punch Debt in the Face reveals why claims for free credit reports aren’t often actually free, and tells readers how to get a truly free one in addition to why seeing your report matters.

4. Len Penzo discusses the repercussions of using a credit card versus a debit card when making a purchase from a small business.

5. Money Under 30 offers a complete guide on understanding your credit score and learning why it matters.

6. Cash Money Life lists eight credit card mistakes you should do your best to avoid, including exceeding your credit limit and paying only the minimum payments.

7. Life and My Finances discusses the three things you must do if you find yourself behind on your credit card payments.

8. Frugal for Life compares cleaning your house to cleaning your finances and provides guidance for cleaning out your financial house.

9. The Financial Blogger reveals his list of the top five things to do with your extra income. The first one? Pay off your debts!

10. Wisebread explains why you should perform an annual review of your credit card rewards.

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  • Jerry

    It’s all well and good that the foreign transaction fee is gone, but the exchange rate is higher now! The card that I have made quite a fanfare about their eliminating the 3% foreign exchange fee several months ago. I’ve just used it for non-USD purchases for the first time since then. Sure enough, there was no fee, but when I checked the exchange rate they used, it was exactly 2.5% higher than the official rate.