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Cap on Credit Card Late Fees Hurt Financially Illiterate Americans

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The Biden Administration implemented a new rule that will cap credit card late fees at $8. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has praised the measure, estimating it will save Americans over $10 billion annually in late fees, or around $220 annually per person as 45 million Americans have experienced these fees within the last year, but this measure may be more harmful than helpful.

Credit card debt in America is at an all-time high of nearly $1.13 trillion and continues to rise as around 56 million Americans carry credit card debt. The typical late fee payment is around $32, but this is merely the fee for missing a payment and does not account for compounded interest. It seems like common sense, but one must realize that the average person is not financially literate. The concept of basic finance is not a mandatory requirement for the public education system, leading many people to live off debt, well beyond their means, with no chance of recuperating. America has the leading median level of credit card debt among all developed nations. There is a widespread belief that one can afford certain goods if they are approved for a line of credit, which only benefits the banks.

Debt Hole Cannor Climb Out

Now, the banks are certainly profiting on late fees, which account for about 15% of credit card profits based on the CFPB’s 2021 Consumer Credit Card Market Report. Do these fees deter reckless spending? A 2022 ABA-led survey found that 46% of respondents said they made it a priority to pay off their credit cards on time to avoid late fees. That particular study found that a fee of $10 was enough to redirect one’s attention to their financial obligations. Another study by the Harris Poll and NerdWallet found that Americans were more likely to make a payment of their cards if a $30 fee was implemented.

Again, one must understand that the average person cannot compute the cost of compounding interest. Borrowing money is not a legal right and should be done with the utmost caution. Simply forgetting or dismissing financial obligations has consequences.

The banks will find a way to profit off the people in other ways. It is the nature of banking. Rob Nichols, the president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, explained that other measures could be implemented that will hurt everyone. “The Bureau’s misguided decision to cap credit card late fees at a level far below banks’ actual costs will force card issuers to reduce credit lines, tighten standards for new accounts and raise APRs for all consumers – even those who pay on time,” Nichols said. This is yet another Biden Admin policy favoring the financially irresponsible at the expense of others.

So, what is the CFPB recommending as an alternative? CBDC. The agency is first suggesting digitizing banking so that consumers have instant access to their credit scores and spending habits. Again, these numbers are disregarded by a portion of the population. The agency is patronizing all Americans by stating we are not intelligent enough to know when to pay off our monthly debts without digital notifications and reminders.

Financial literacy is desperately needed in America. So, while the Biden Administration is breaking its arm patting itself on the back for this surface-level win for the everyday man, the ruling does nothing to combat the growing personal debt crisis.