Our credit card cash-back earnings hit 63 cents this week. I expected rewards to go down as lenders and borrowers brace for new credit card regulations to kick in a few months from now. But 63 cents barely gets you change back from a senior-price cup of coffee. Sheesh.
Actually, there's more than the new credit card regulations going on here. We consumers are becoming more frugal, whether by choice, as Harris pollsters recently found, or because we have to, as the Federal Reserve reports.
Banks and credit card companies are scrambling to save as many billions of potentially lost dollars as they can before the full changes kick in, writes David Lazarus of The Los Angeles Times. So watch your mail the next several weeks for big changes and small ones that are in the works.
And start planning now how you might change some credit card habits as the new rules start kicking in. Many of our first impulses may actually make things worse, says John Ulzheimer of Credit.com. What you may want to do instead is diversify your credit card usage, adds Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs.com.
But don't go nuts, advises CNN Money. As always, you want to keep a healthy distance between the amount of credit you use and the amount that is available but which you don't use.