Credit Card Madness

Excellent story in the New York Times about how credit card companies can charge you pretty much whatever they want after you’ve racked up a balance, thereby punishing their best customers (the ones who carry a balance). I mention this because some of the horror stories were similar to what happened to us after we went a little nuts getting our house set up the year we got married. (We’re making good progress and will likely pay off all our cards early next year, but the rate on one of our cards was hiked up to 25.9% — loan shark rates, really.)

We found this calculator useful when we got serious about paying down our credit card bills last year. It lets you plug in the balances on all your cards and gives you a strategy for paying off the high-interest cards first; you can tell it to calculate a payment plan over a fixed time period (like twelve months) or tell it to calculate a plan based on a fixed payment amount you can afford each month.

The PBS investigative series Frontline will cover this issue on Nov. 23 (next Tuesday night).