Friday, June 26, 2009

JPMorgan to Charge 5% on Card Balance Transfers, Cash Advances

JPMorgan to Charge 5% on Card Balance Transfers, Cash Advances

(Source LA Times) JPMorgan Chase & Co. is raising some balance-transfer fees on credit cards to 5 percent, the highest among the nation's largest banks, citing increasing regulations and costs after the U.S. put new curbs on the industry.

JPMorgan, the biggest credit-card issuer, disclosed the increase in a notice mailed to customers this month that referred to "new federal regulations." The New York-based lender starts charging more in August, just as the law designed to curb interest-rate increases, fees and marketing practices begins to take effect.
"In the current economic environment, our costs of doing business have been impacted by increased losses," JPMorgan spokesman Paul Hartwick said in an e-mailed statement. "We are increasing balance-transfer fees to reflect the increasing costs for these transactions." The notice didn't specify the current average fee for balance transfers.

The credit-card law President Barack Obama signed May 22 prompted warnings from industry executives that they'd be forced to raise fees, curtail credit and restrict consumer rewards. Discover Financial Services Chief Executive Officer David Nelms said last week his credit-card company will pull back "dramatically" on balance transfers.

The rate increase at JPMorgan also affects cash advances, and fixed rates will become variable, the notice said. Hartwick declined to say how many customers are affected. The agreement says JPMorgan may choose to offer a lower transfer fee; Hartwick declined to elaborate on how customers might qualify.

JPMorgan's 5 percent fee tops the 4 percent that Bank of America Corp. implemented June 1, citing increasing costs. Bank of America ranks third by cards outstanding, according to industry newsletter the Nilson Report.

"This is the highest balance-transfer fee in the industry," said Bill Hardekopf, chief executive officer of, a Birmingham, Alabama research firm. "It is setting a new precedent that I'm afraid other issuers may follow."
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