Credit Reform and My New 703.8% Card

MacysKathy Kristof writes on CBS Moneywatch:

Consumer reporters were all crowing about a 79.99% rate credit card that was launched in response to credit reform a few months ago–collectively horrified that a law designed to cut rates and eliminate sneaky fees was inspiring increasingly abusive bank behavior.

I thought that was about as bad as it gets until I took a close look at the statement for my new Macy’s card, which I had opened with “instant credit” while Christmas shopping. It made that 79% card look like a bargain.

Department Stores National Bank, which issues the card, charges a “minimum interest charge.” On my average daily balance of $3.41, that minimum charge worked out to “an actual annual percentage rate” of 703.80%. (Part of the impact of last year’s credit reform is that the issuer had to disclose that shocker on the statement, while also noting that the card’s normal APR is 24.5%.)

Such are sneaky new fees that are now springing up in response to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act passed last May, said Bill Hardekopf, president of, a rate-shopping web site.

“We are going to see a lot of creative new charges, especially in the area of fees,” he predicted. “The CARD Act tied issuers hands in some areas, but they are going to be looking for all sorts of creative new ways to make up the revenue that they lost.

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