More reason to hate your credit card debt: Late payment rates rise again

Business as usual for credit-card holders means, of course, more bad news today. The banks are raising cardholders' late and over-limit fees and interest rates; USA Today delivers the sordid details. The lenders couch their rising interest rates as a means to offset unprecedented delinquency (when customers make payments more than 30 days late) and charge-card charge-offs (when they don't pay the full balance, as the terms demand). American Express, a charge card, is raising its 45-day late fee to $39 from $29.

Don't get them wrong. Banks and card issuers love late payments -- at least when customers aren't too late. Last year U.S. cardholders ponied up $19 billion in the twin windfalls of late and over-limit fees. That figure is expected to swell by nearly 8% this year, reaping banks $20.5 billion in essentially free money.