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!$6 , , THE PALM BEACH POST DECEMBER 1 1 1 997 Holiday shoppers face more credit card fees percent. (The average rate now is just below 17 percent.) B Higher fees. It may only be an extra $2, but many card issuers ,f , I nr i I w ii a i f , VEHICLE IUYF0R: 0 HAS! FOR: REFUNDABLE CASH DOWN TOTAL PURCHASE MI.AR ' - PYMKTM0S ) SECURITY DEPOSIT TRADE EQUITY FYMTS. OPTION CHARGE OVER j TOYOTA COROLLA $13,995 $21936 $300 $0 $7,884 $8,561 12,000lSt P TOYOTA CAMRY $26936 $300 $0 $9,684 $14,183 12,00015( P PLYMOUTH VOYAGER $18,995 $29236 $350 $0 $10,511 $12,018 10,0001 5 C Ej TOYOTA 4RUNNER $22,752 $28939 $350 $0 $11,271 $16,033 12,00012C p97KIA SEPHIAGS - $19936 $250 $0 $7,164 $6,862 12,00015( I '97 HONDA CIVIC EX $16,425 $19933 $300 $0 $6,567 $11,893 12,0001 5 ( I "97 CHRYSLER SE BRING X $20,356 $33036 $350 $0 $1 1,880 1 $12,537 1 I0,000I2 tl II. .. . . . AnAAAf It . f ATAl I I f I It ..I ..I I tt I i on credit omrovd bv ormorv lender, m ot mceoi: m mo. mm oeoier service ree, nu Dame ree. rerunooDte security mm sius tax. ma title, inoraes tor excessive wear Hear to k determined by written estimate. Early termmtrtwi charges apply as per contract. Subject to iralabity. Dealer retains factory rebates one incentives, it any. D3CSCLDSZS7 Delray (561) 272-7967 AUTO LEASING MALL Toll Free 930-LEASE I I NVKTWKH.flXVa Ii ATLANTIC AVf. $ IjlwtoiIi ikvo 1 1 I I feMATOMX jj Fleet Exporting Sales Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 12pm-5pm 2700 S. FEDERAL HWY., DELRAY BEACH Between Linton Blvd. & Yomcrto Rd. on west side of Federal Hwy. f?slf!f'fww?f?wfelfflllllfltvf?l?tl,ffg!f" PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARDS! EQUITY LOANS FOR ANY REASON! Reduce Your Monthly Payments By Vivian Marino The Associated Press NEW YORK In a few short weeks, holiday shoppers are expected to plunk down a whopping $160.5 billion on carefully chosen gifts for family, friends and business associates. So what's your friendly credit card issuer getting from you this Christmas? Perhaps more than last year if you're not too careful. Plastic-wielding households may not fully realize it, but they face a myriad of fees and restrictions in some cases, more than a year ago from shortened grace periods to rising fees on late payments and exceeded credit limits. Even a few who regularly pay olf their balances or stop using their cards may be "punished" for their behavior, consumer groups and industry experts say. "Credit card issuers are seeking to maximize their fee income. We saw it last year and we're seeing it again this year," said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America in Washington. "Holiday shoppers need to be aware of this." The trend toward higher credit card fees comes in addition to .other charges that have been creeping up over the years, among them: service fees on savings deposit accounts, fees for use of automated teller machines, online and teller services or failure to maintain minimum account balances. "Consumers are far more aware today of these bank fees than they were three or four years ago," said Robert K. Heady, publisher of Bank Rate Monitor, a North Palm Beach newsletter that tracks industry trends. "But they I still don't deserve an A on their shopping report card." Heady says holiday shoppers who are expected to spend an average of nearly $900 per household this year can get caught up in the buying frenzy and fail to pay attention to changing fees or restrictions from card issuers. "They're not taking enough aggressive steps to protect themselves ... to finding the cheapest card they can find . . . and reading the fine print about fees," he said. A few of the changes holiday "stoppers should be aware of, according to Heady and other groups: Higher interest rates for misbehaving. If you're late with a payment or exceed your credit limit (even once) you may find the rate increased for months to come in some cases, to as high as 23 ( Pay Oil Your Bills Pay Taxes are raising the standard fees charged on misbehaving users, i.e., those who make late payments or exceed limits. One recent consumer survey noted that fees jumped an average 26 percent this year. A notable change: While no company charged more than $18 for a late fee two years ago, 46 percent did today. Annual fees. After the AT&T Universal Card was launched earlier this decade, there was pressure to reduce or eliminate annual fees. Now the trend is reversing. A few financial institutions have started imposing annual fees on customers who pay in full each month. More penalties for responsible use. At least one credit card issuer now wants to charge customers $15 for not using their cards for six months, and $25 if they decide to close that account. Shrinking grace periods. Most card issuers offer a 25-day grace period in which to pay for new purchases without incurring finance charges. Some banks have shortened that time to 20 days. So in some cases, you might be hit with finance charges before you even get your bill. (For those who carry a balance from month to month, there's no grace period on new purchases on most cards.) Disappearing benefits. Many banks enticed customers to sign up with extra benefits such as a lifetime warranty, a discount on travel, rebates on certain purchases or protection if an item purchased is lost. Now, some banks have cut back on these extras without the same fanfare that launched them. Banks, for their part, contend the higher fees are a necessary part of the cost of doing business, as well as a way to offset losses from bad debt and rising credit card use. American consumers incurred more than $1 trillion in credit card debt last year alone. At the same time, the credit-card delinquency rate hit a record high 3.72 percent in 1996, and by the first half of this year already reached 3.69 percent. Personal bankruptcies exceeded 1 million in 1997 for the first time ever. "Banks are merely making prudent business decisions," said Nancy Ness Judy, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association, a Washington-based trade group. "Isn't it the goal of any business fo make money?" Lower Your Interest Rate Remodel Your Home Swimming Pools Pay For Education For Most, Mtg. 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