Final credit card rules have taken effect

Final credit card rules have taken effect. For several months, various portions of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act have been slowly going into effect. Sometimes the new rules set up restrictions for how consumers can handle their credit card debt, others prevented lenders from raising rates without notice.

Now, the latest and final provision, which limits fees lenders can charge for various offenses, is in place. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, credit card issuers can now only apply "reasonable" penalty fees, and are prohibited from issuing some other fees as well. For example, late fees can now no longer exceed $25 unless a consumer makes another late payment within six billing periods. In that instance, the fee can be boosted to $35. Issuers can also increase them if they can justify that the costs it incurs in dealing with these late payments is higher than usual.

The report also said that lenders cannot charge inactivity fees, and cannot charge more than one fee for a single infraction.

Other changes the Credit CARD Act has enacted in recent months include regulating the availability of accounts for people under 21 years old.