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Credit-card firms rush to get users on variable rates before rules change

Banks and credit-card issuers are more frequently changing user terms — particularly interest rates — in part to bypass restrictive federal rules set to take effect in February.”

…”What to do? Faced with the inevitable switch from a fixed-rate card to a variable rate, consumers are left to choose between accepting the change or declining it. Here’s what to expect from either.

Accept it. For now, the rates aren’t likely to change until February, just before the federal rules kick in. Unless excluded, your entire balance will be charged at the new rate. Check your statement monthly as the rate will likely change each time. Best strategy: pay off the balance each month.

Decline it. You won’t be able to use the card and you risk having to pay the interest rate anyway on current balances unless you pay the entire amount immediately. By declining it, you cancel the card and that might affect your credit score. Best strategy: shop for a new card before refusing the increase.”