When the CARD Act went into effect in February, one of the new mandates it ushered in was a requirement for credit card companies to print right on your statement in black and white how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you only pay the minimum and how much in interest this will cost.
We here at Walletpop applauded this facet of the new legislation when it was enacted, and a new poll shows that the enhanced information is working as planned: Americans are wising up to their financial reality.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling just released the results of a poll conducted last month among American consumers, and the results are striking. This additional information now appearing on your credit card statements is educating you about just how expensive credit card interest can be, and it's leading those of you who can afford to pay more to make changes in your personal budgeting.
A full 25% of the 2,000 people polled said that realizing just how much their interest is costing them is leading them to pay down their balances faster. Around 12% said the information came as a reality check and had prompted them to reach out for help from a nonprofit credit counselor to help them get their personal finances back on track.
"Seeing your financial situation in black and white can be very powerful," says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the NFCC. "We think it's moving the needle. For those who can pay more than the minimum each month, it appears to have inspired them to do so."
Unfortunately, the still-struggling economy does seem to be hampering many Americans who wish to pay off their debts. More than half -- 55% -- of respondents said the additional information about the minimum payments and interest that accrues over the years does not impact them, because they're already paying as much as they can afford each month.
If seeing your debt obligation in black and white makes you feel like you need a hand getting your debt under control and your finances back on track, you can contact the NFCC at the link above to find a credit counselor. Alternately, call the toll-free number that now appears on your credit card bill, which will be able to connect you to a credit counseling agency approved by the Department of Justice's Executive Office of the United States Trustee.
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