New rules encourage credit card issuers to raise rates and fees

Millions of Americans will be paying a whole lot more interest on their credit card balances as credit card companies rushed to raise raise rates before the first changes in credit laws take effect this week.

Starting this week credit card issuers must mail bills 21 days rather than 14 days in advance and they must give 45 days notice before raising interest rates. Before the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD) went into effect credit card companies only had to give a 15-day notice of a rate increase.

Often by the time people received the notice there wasn't much time to protest. When you do protest, you have only one of two options -- pay off the account or lock in the current rate and agree to close the account.

In the past few months credit card companies have been racing to raise interest rates on millions of credit card holders. People with cards from American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Discover, Capital One and others have been reporting increases even if they've never made a late payment and have excellent credit scores. Anyone who carries balances from month to month will see the credit card costs increase.