Web Extra: Have Your Credit Card Terms Been Changed?

Have you noticed that your credit card interest rate has gone through the roof – or your credit limit has been drastically reduced for no apparent reason? You aren’t alone. Credit card companies are changing the terms on consumers more than ever as they struggle to cope with losses related to the recession and tightened credit markets. But if your terms have been changed on you, there are a few things you can do about it:

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1. Protect your credit - Make sure the credit card issuer’s actions didn't harm your credit scores. Lower limits can often lead to lower scores, which in turn can lead to other credit card issuers doing the same thing to you.

2. Transfer your balance - If your rate or minimum payment has been increased then you're more "out of pocket" each month. Seek the better terms of another card in your wallet and transfer the balance. But don’t close the original card, as you need that credit to offset the balance of the new card.

3. Open a new card or cards - If your issuer changes terms adversely and you have no other options then you're stuck. Opening a new card can give you options you'll need to maintain good credit and lower payments. A good rule of thumb: For each card where you carry a balance you should have two where you don't.