Even With Credit CARD Act, Some Still Use Plastic As Safety Net

May 23, 2012 | | Consumer Reports |

On the third anniversary of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act being signed into law, the average debt has declined, but many Americans are still using credit cards as a way to cover basic living expenses, according to a national survey from the policy center Demos.

According to the survey, 40 percent of middle-and low-income households used credit cards to pay for basic living expenses such as groceries, insurance, mortgage bills, rent, or utilities, in the past year because they did not have enough money in their checking or savings accounts. Those finding were comparable to that of the 2008 Demos survey.
 
The survey also reported, however, that fewer households are paying late fees on credit cards, something our own recent survey results support. The Credit CARD Act, which bars many abusive practices by credit card issuers seem to be having an effect. But that doesn't mean you can let down your guard.
 
In our new Credit card buying guide, we outline common credit card gotchas, how to pick the best card for your habits, plus a rundown of the types of new credit card offers you might be getting in the mail.