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The Competition Commission one of the governments watchdogs, has at last moved to shame credit cards in to cutting their charges. The long overdue move comes after the Commission concluded that the credit card industry was overcharging customers between £55 and £100 million each year through excessive interest rates and other charges. And this has been going on for a least 3 years!

The main culprits by far are store cards where interest rates are as high as 30.9% – even though the Bank of England’s base rate stands at just 4.5%. The worst culprits were TJ Hughes and the Faith Card followed by Owen & Owen. You can find them heading the Table of Shame shown below in this article.

The commission has also come down on high penalty charges for missed or late payments and Payment Protection Insurance. Average penalty charges are currently £15 per event – but the Commission is also right to argue that these charges are excessive.

As for Payment Protection Insurance, the Commission has joined the consumer body “Which”, the National Consumer Council and indeed the Financial Services Authority in concluding that whilst this insurance can be a good idea, credit card operators have abused it. The Commission has therefore decreed that Payment Protection Insurance must no longer be sold in a combined package with a credit card; it must always be purchased as a separate stand alone transaction. That’ll be good news for the Internet where many of the cheapest Payment Protection Insurance deals can be found. With premium savings of up to 60% in comparison with credit card and loan packed arrangements, business on the Internet will flourish.

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