05/12/2009 - Most people choose a credit card based on the lowest interest rates available, but that's a tricky comparison because issuers have almost unlimited power to change those rates.
Wise consumers are better off shopping for credit cards that offer the clearest and most reasonable rules on interest rates and fees, but those who try have few options.
A recent study by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that 93 percent of major credit cards have policies allowing them to raise rates at any time, in some cases on funds previously advanced to cardholders. Credit card companies raised interest rates on nearly a quarter of their customers from March 2007 through February 2008, affecting 70 million accounts.
The study covered 12 companies and 400 credit card products, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all credit card debt in the United States.
Read the full article Make Credit Policies Fairer to Card Users on The Virginian-Pilot's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.