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This Valentine's Day, Break Up With Your Wall Street Credit Card

Hidden fees? Fine print? International financial meltdown? It might be time to re-evaluate your relationship.

Many common security clubs have come together to support one another in reducing credit card debt and increasing support for the local economy. Some have worked to pass consumer protection laws.


Credit cards, photo by Andres Rueda

Photo by Andres Rueda

It was over a year ago that the Federal Reserve issued new credit card rules to protect consumers. Finally, on February 22nd, some of these new consumer protections will begin to go into effect.

But beware. The big credit card companies, wizards of fine print, will attempt to play some new games. You should watch your mail carefully for new terms on your existing credit card. Big card companies are raising minimum payments, lowering card limits, and raising interest rates.

With Valentines Day approaching, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. Do you feel a warm fuzzy attachment to your credit card?

No? You feel abused? Legalistic fine print? Hidden fees? Interest rate hikes? Whopper late fees?

So why do you keep going back? We understand you may need a credit card. But why do you keep forking over your hard-earned labor to Citigroup, Bank of America and the other Wall Street banks that drove our economy off a cliff? Why don’t you move your borrowing?

Learn More:
The Community Banking Initiative
Move Your Money
Safe Credit Cards Project

There is a national movement to “Move Your Money” out of the reckless institutions that trashed our economy. People who want to strengthen the real economy are taking their deposits to community banks and credit unions.

A local lending institution might be the place to also get your new credit card. Stacy Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance writes, “About three quarters of community banks and just over half of credit unions offer credit cards. Unlike big banks, these smaller institutions generally do not view their credit cards as major profit centers, but rather as a service for customers.”

A study by the Pew Charitable Trust found that these local issuers typically have lower interest rates, smaller penalties, and “fewer dangers associated with unfair or deceptive practices.”

Just remember, some local banks still use the big guys to handle their accounts, so ask around.

Happy Valentines Day!


Chuck Collins auth picChuck Collins wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical solutions. Chuck is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.ips-dc.org/inequality).  He is co-author, with Mary Wright, of The Moral Measure of the Economy.

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