Tired of Hidden Bank and Credit Card Fees? Report to This Watchdog Agency

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KEY POINTS

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is cracking down on hidden credit card and bank fees.
  • The agency is asking consumers to be proactive in reporting transgressions.


It's time for individual consumers to speak up.

If you have credit cards you use regularly or money in a bank account, you may be familiar with the various fees these institutions charge. Your credit card, for example, might charge a late fee when you don't make your minimum payment on time or might charge a fee when you do a balance transfer. Your bank account may impose fees for overdrafts or for not maintaining a minimum balance in your checking account.

It's one thing for banks and credit cards to charge a modest fee in these situations, and also, to charge fees that consumers are adequately warned about in advance. But it's another thing for credit cards and banks to impose hidden fees that catch consumers off guard and cause them a world of financial distress.

It's the latter practice the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is hoping to put an end to. Now, the agency, which was established following the 2008 financial crisis, is asking consumers to take a proactive role in eliminating hidden or excessive bank and credit card fees. And it pays to do your part to help.

An ongoing problem

Banks and credit card companies make a lot of money by imposing fees on consumers. But some of those fees are not disclosed as clearly as they could or should be from the start. The CFPB is working to spare consumers the hassle of having to deal with them.

It's estimated credit card companies made $14 billion in late fees in 2019. In the same year, banks also earned $15 billion in fees for overdrafts and insufficient funds.

Now, the watchdog agency is cracking down on those fees in an effort to protect consumers. In light of announcements along these lines, several big name banks have already taken steps to reduce or get rid of overdraft fees.

But there's still work to be done -- and the CFPB wants your help in tracking surprise or unjust fees. If your bank or credit card imposes a fee that catches you off guard, or a fee that seems excessive, you shouldn't hesitate to report it.

You can do so in a number of ways:

  • Submit a comment here
  • Email [email protected] with your complaint and include "Docket No. CFPB-2022-0003" in the subject line of your message
  • Send a letter outlining your complaint to Comment Intake -- Fee Assessment, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20552

That said, the CFPB encourages consumers to utilize the first two methods, which are probably more convenient for the typical bank account or credit card holder.

Bye bye, unfair fees

This new initiative on the part of the CFPB won't make bank and credit card fees go away completely. After all, these institutions rely on those fees to stay profitable, and it's easy to argue that some fees (like late payment fees) are fairly reasonable provided they aren't excessive.

But it may help cut down on outrageous or surprise fees that hurt consumers. That's reason enough to take a stand and help the agency with its efforts.

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