With the current and upcoming changes in the credit card industry due to the Credit CARD Act and other regulations put in place by the Federal Reserve, banks and credit issuers are maneuvering as much as possible to be in a good position to continue making money off their customers. Public corporations have responsibility to their shareholders to protect their bottom line, and with the threat of reduced profits due to new regulations you can be sure these companies will try anything within the realm of possibility to survive.
Bank of America has announced some anticipated changes to their credit cards that shows what the future might look like: more credit cards will carry annual fees. And unlike most fee-bearing credit cards, the customers receiving these charges may not have cards that offer premium services like a concierge or extensive rewards.
One of the criteria Bank of America will use to determine which customers are lucky enough to receive the fee is “profitability;” in other words, those of us who don’t send the bank extra in the forms of interest payments and late fees or those who use their credit card infrequently — the responsible users of credit — are likely to be assessed the fee. Bank of America could easily determine which customers are not profitable for the company and charge this annual fee to make them profitable.
For now, there are many fee-free credit card choices for responsible users. The climate might change soon, however. Even the most diligent credit card users, those who manage to use cash back rewards and other benefits while paying off their balance in full every month, might find that the new environment will point to a cash-only spending plan for the best deal.
BofA to charge annual fees on some credit cards, Candice Choi, The Seattle Times, October 13, 2009