Credit card minimums not doubling, but might still hurt

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Executives at Debt Shield, Inc., a Maryland-based debt settlement firm, said that the increased minimum monthly payments on credit card balances will most likely not double, as it is widely reported, but that the increase might push financially struggling cardholders into bankruptcy or bankruptcy alternatives, like debt settlement. “While credit industry experts and the media claim that credit card companies are doubling their minimum monthly payments from 2% of the outstanding balance to 4%, the actual minimum payment increase is more complicated and less drastic for most cardholders,” explains Mark Baylis, President of Debt Shield. “The new rules require credit card banks to set their minimum payments to cover all interest and fees plus 1% of the outstanding balance, which will result in significant increases for high-interest accounts.” Baylis said that a cardholder with $10,000 on a credit card at 18% Annual Percentage Rate (1.5% monthly) pays $200 under the 2% minimum requirement. Out of that $200 payment, $150 (1.5%) goes towards interest and only $50 (0.5%) goes towards the outstanding balance. Under the new rule, the minimum payment will increase so that the amount applied to the outstanding balance in this example is at least $100 (1%), so the minimum monthly payment must increase by $50 (0.5%) to $250 (2.5%). The average APR is currently just under 14% (1.17% monthly), but credit card companies increase the APR to 27% or higher if the cardholder makes one late payment. This means that the reality of the new rule will punish low- to medium-income families struggling with credit card debt more than high-income families who are able to avoid paying late. Baylis said that even a small increase can have drastic consequences for families struggling to make the existing payments and manage inflation combined with stagnating income. The MMP on a credit card debt with the above-average 18% APR will increase by $50 while the same $10,000 debt with a 27% penalty APR will increase by $75. Also, the 27% APR charges $75 more in monthly interest than the 18% APR. Baylis said that this clearly demonstrates the financially destructive power of high interest rates. “The increased minimums will be good in the long term because it should encourage less debt,” Baylis continued. “But if the credit card companies want to help consumers, they need to stop punishing cardholders with outrageously high interest rates.” About Debt Shield, Inc.

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