WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The ‘buy now, pay later’ convenience associated with credit cards is part of the attraction to add plastic to consumers’ wallets. At the same time, missed payments can lead to stiff penalties given high-interest rates.
Macy’s informed one card holder–also a DC News Now manager–their annual interest rate neared 30 percent.
As consumers consider subscribing to retail credit card programs amid the holiday shopping season, DC News Now found several retailers that also include high-interest rates — Kohls’s rates range from 22 to 25 percent, while Walmart is set at 27 percent, according to terms published by the retailers.
“Could you ever imagine a landlord charging that if you’re late on a payment,” asked Beau Correll, a personal injury attorney.
Correll added that companies can charge high-interest rates because of caps set at state levels–a corporate headquarters in states with higher caps means wiggle room to charge consumers more.
“There is no general, federal law that determines what the cap is,” he said.
Virginia-based Defense Attorney Russ Stone said that if companies are explicit with consumers what interest rates are included in their plans, companies are likely not breaking any laws.
“If you are fully advised and aware that you are signing on for a 29 percent interest rate, then you’re probably going to be stuck with that 29% interest rate. But if you didn’t know it, if you were not advised that this was something you signed on for, then you get into the realm where there might be something that can be done about it criminally,” Stone said.
Calling insurance companies to negotiate interest rates based on good credit may could help, too. Avoiding using credit cards for large expenses like rent and utilities, may prevent interest rate penalties if consumers do not have funds immediately available.
Consumers who believe they may be targeted with predatory lending can contact their state attorneys general’s office.