Some credit card issuers, including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are notifying customers that their cards with fixed interest rates soon will switch to variable-rate cards. The moves are in response to new card-industry rules that go into effect next year that will restrict issuers' ability to change cardholders' interest rates. BofA began notifying fixed-rate card customers in late June that their accounts would switch to a new, variable annual percentage rate similar to their previous rate, a bank spokesperson tells CardLine. "If you had fixed-rate card, your new rate will be the prime rate on May 31 (3.25%) plus a new rate, bringing you to your previous rate. Going forward, any change in the prime rate will cause a change in these customers' APRs," the spokesperson says. The majority of BofA's credit card customers already have variable-rate accounts, and the majority of those with fixed-rate accounts soon will be switched to variable rates, BofA says. "But we will still have some fixed-rate cards, such as newly opened accounts and those for students or people in debt assistance," the spokesperson says. Chase, which reportedly has recently raised some cardholders' interest rates to levels as high as 23.99%, declined to comment on its card interest rates. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, signed into law last May, goes into effect in February. It prohibits issuers from raising interest rates except for when cardholders' payments are more than 60 days late and in certain other special cases. Issuers cannot raise interest rates on new accounts for 12 months, and promotional rates must endure for at least six months. "After February of next year, it's going to require a lot more steps for card issuers to change customers' interest rates. So a lot of issuers are switching cardholders' interest rates now to avoid the hassle later," Jim Walsh, president and founder of Peterborough, N.H.-based Brook wood Capital LLC, a credit card portfolio broker and consultant, tells CardLine.

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