What new credit card rules mean for you

LOS ANGELES The new Federal Reserve rules regarding credit cards have been a long time in coming, but that also means the banks have had a long time to think about ways to get back the revenue they're about to lose because of the new rules.

Good news for credit card holders: All of the sweeping reforms signed into law by President Obama last May are now finally in place.

As of Sunday, credit card companies are limited in the fees they can charge.

Exceed your credit limit buying your morning coffee? Now banks can only charge a penalty equal to how far you went over the limit. A $3 coffee means a $3 penalty only.

Late fees will drop from around $39 to no more than $25.

There are no more inactivity fees for not using your credit card over an extended period.

Lenders cannot charge a customer more than one fee per transaction, so no more daily fees, which are fees for each day a late fee or penalty fee isn't paid.

And card issuers must notify a customer 45 days before increasing the annual percentage rate of a credit account.

But do loopholes still exist?

Credit card companies say they stand to lose billions in revenue with the new restrictions. Experts expect the banks to fight back.

"The banks, the credit card companies will find new and interesting and potentially painful ways for consumers to make up the difference in terms of what they're losing," said Adam Levin, chief executive officer of Credit.com.

That means ATM fees, balance transfer fees and foreign transaction fees all could be subject to rate increases

Consumers need to be aware of the changes to their accounts and take the initiative to protect themselves.

"The key thing is it doesn't matter how big, how bold, how bright or better positioned the now less than fine, more easily understandable print will be if you don't read it," said Levin.

These new rules for credit card issuers are in effect from now on. Customers already should have received something in the mail about changes to their specific accounts, or will get something by e-mail. But don't respond with any personal information without first verifying it is indeed your bank that is asking you for it.

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