Protections enacted through the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act passed almost two years ago have made the credit card market significantly safer for American consumers, according to new research released by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Overall, the CARD Act of 2009 has led to steady interest rates and overall less penalty costs  on credit cards for consumers according to the new study, which compared credit card solicitations from this past January to those from previous years.

Specifically the Credit Card Act has resulted in the following changes for consumers:

  • Steady interest rates: Median interest rates for purchases (with the median rate resting anywhere between 12.99% to 20.99% based on one’s credit history), bank cash advances and penalty interest held steady from 2010 according to Pew’s study. Median credit union purchase rates were slightly higher than they’d been last year and rested at between 9.99% and 17.00%, while credit union cash advances have declined.
  • Lower penalty fees: Penalty fees charged by credit card issuers have dropped to between $25 to $35 on average from a previous level of $39, thanks to federal rules governing the credit card industry. Credit unions penalty fees have remained stable at $25 thanks to the federal rules.
  • Significantly reduced overlimit penalties: Pew’s study also revealed that only 11% of U.S. banks actually even charge overlimit penalty fees, while the nation’s largest credit unions no longer charge these fees.
  • Fewer changes to annual fees: Annual fees for banks and credit unions have held steady since 2010 at $59 and $25, respectively. While the percentage of credit union charging fee on their credit cards held steady at 14% since 2010, that rate same rate rose seven points to 21% since the enactment of CARD Act.
Fee/RateBanksCredit Unions
Purchase APR (lowest advertised)12.99%, no increase9.99%, up from 9.90%
Purchase APR (highest advertised)20.99%, no increase since 201017.00%, up from 16.15%
Cash advance APR (lowest advertised)24.24%, no increase10.90%, down from 11.40%
Cash advance APR (highest advertised)24.24%, no increase14.90%, down from 16.00%
Penalty APR29.99%, no increase17.99%, up from 17.90%
Late fee(up to) $35, down from $39 median(up to) $25, no change
Overlimit fee(up to) $35, down from $39 medianNone, no change
Cash advance fee4.00%, no change2.00%, down from 2.5%
Balance transfer fee4.00%, no change2.50%, no change
International transfer fee3.00%, no change1.00%, no change
Overlimit transfer fee$10*$6*
Annual fee$59$25
Cards with arbitration clauses14%, up from 10% of cardsnone, no change
Cards with minimum payment formula stated5%**51%**

*41% of banks cards allow overdraft transfers with a fixed transaction fee and 3% of credit union cards include the fee, according the Pew’s data.

**Required minimum payment formulas ranged from 1% to 2% of principal balance for banks and from 1.75% to 2.5% for credit unions when they were disclosed, according to Pew’s data. This excludes fees and is similar to 2010 levels.

The CARD Act of 2009 overhauled the credit card industry by limited the ability of card issuers to impose penalties and interest rate hikes on existing balances. The law also required credit card companies to be more transparent with credit card terms and also entitles credit card customers to a six-month review of their accounts after an interest rate hike has been imposed, amongst many other of it provisions.

Read: Pew Research Shows Credit CARD Act Will Save Consumers Billions

Learn: 5 Credit Card Fees to Watch Out For

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