Chase boosts rates, fees on lots of cards

Closeup of credit card

If you're a Chase credit card customer or are being brought into the fold because Chase purchased Washington Mutual, read everything the company sends you very carefully.

A rash of "change in terms" notices has been sent to a variety of Chase card members over the past few weeks.

On Prime Plus cards, for example, the interest rate is determined adding a premium (the "Plus" part of the name) to the prevailing prime rate.

With the Federal Reserve pushing the prime rate down to 3.25%, Chase is increasing the premium to keep the interest rate borrowers actually pay from falling, too.

The reason? At least Chase isn't lying about that in its letter: "The principal factor we considered in amending your account is maintaining profitability on your account."

Of course, you can refuse to accept the new terms, but Chase will close your account and void any unused points or miles.

The nation's largest credit card provider also imposed a $10 monthly fee on 400,000 accounts that have carried a significant balance for more than two years on cards with low promotional rates.

(We suspect most of those customers responded to ads that promised to charge no more than 4.99% on balances they transferred from other credit cards.)

Chase raised the minimum payment from 2% to 5% of the balance as well.

Consumers who called to complain were given a choice: Accept a higher, 7.99% interest rate on the promotional balance, or agree to the heftier minimum payment and the $120 yearly fee.

We've also heard from Washington Mutual customers whose accounts have been transferred to Chase because it bought the thrift last fall.

Their interest rates are being raised by as much as 20 percentage points, from 9.99% to 29.99%.

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