Credit, Debit, Prepaid Cards: What new rules do and don’t do

Credit cards for individuals—but not businesses—are safer because of new rules that took full effect in 2010. By eliminating many unfair fees and interest rate hikes, the rules make prices clearer, more competitive. But card issuers can still jack up rates on new purchases or cash advances any time, for any reason. And the new rules don’t cover business cards, so issuers still can raise rates retroactively on existing balances on these cards any time. Learn more about what the new rules do and don’t do. See our top credit card tips. Learn the signs of predatory credit cards.

The new rules also don’t cover prepaid cards, which too often carry high, poorly disclosed fees. Consumer groups recently told the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that prepaid cards lack consumer safeguards.

On debit cards, too many banks still charge high-cost overdraft fees. Banks must now get an explicit “Yes” before enrolling a customer in a high-cost overdraft plan. But banks market aggressively, often using scare tactics to pressure customers to agree. Consumers should say “no.”

If you can’t work out a problem with a card issuer, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.cfpb.gov.