Power Point: Look out for Main Street

May 20, 2009, 3:49 AM UTC
Fortune

“Any effort to restore confidence in our economy must start not on Wall Street but in Main Street, and that’s what the credit card situation is all about.”

— Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic Majority Leader, speaking before a Senate vote on Tuesday that put new restrictions on the credit card industry. The bill is supposed to make card terms more explicit and be fairer to customers, providing safeguards against rate increases and late fees.

The vote did not cap interest rates, so the card-issuers can continue to raise them. This is exactly what banks including American Express , Citigroup , Bank of America are doing as they cut risky cardholders from their rosters. The banks may also look at adding other fees back in and cutting rewards programs. So while the bill may spell relief for some consumers, those who regularly pay off their card balances may lose out. Three words: no more miles. –Jessica Shambora