It really doesn't matter how much Congress attempts to curb credit-card abuses. Some consumers are too addicted to credit; no amount of legislation is going to help these folks. Michelle Singletary, writing for the Washington Post, says that some of the measures being pushed through Congress contain a number of exceptions and conditions that would allow card issuers to continue punishing cardholders. Meanwhile, Singletary predicts that the most vulnerable customers will actually opt in for this punishment.
From the Washington Post:
Congress and President Obama are trying hard to stop credit card issuers from allowing consumers to go over their credit limits. To reduce oppressive over-limit fees, credit card issuers would have to get a customer's permission to set up their account to process transactions that would place them over their credit line.
This "gives consumers control over their own credit behavior," said a senior administration official who is working with the Treasury Department on the president's credit card reform initiative.
I've stood in the store behind people who hand over their credit cards and close their eyes and silently pray that the charges will be approved.
Who do you think will opt in to allow over-limit purchases?
According to Singletary, those most likely to opt in will be those who can least afford it -- those who are already maxed out.
Later in the column, Singletary talks about clarity and transparency when it comes to card agreements and statements. She's all for that, of course. But she wants to take it a step further. She calls her idea a radical one. I figure she's joking, though. Maybe she's not.
You can read the entire column here.