Chase Bank scraps $10 fee on credit cards

NEW YORK Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:59pm EDT

A man uses an ATM machine at a Chase bank, which was formerly a Washington Mutual branch office in Burbank, March 30, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

A man uses an ATM machine at a Chase bank, which was formerly a Washington Mutual branch office in Burbank, March 30, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed under pressure from New York state to stop charging a new $10 monthly fee to credit cardholders and agreed to refund the proceeds collected since the fee was first levied in January, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

Over 184,000 cardholders will receive $4.4 million in refunds as a result of the agreement, Cuomo said in a statement.

Chase Bank, one of the biggest U.S. credit card issuers, said in a separate statement it will reimburse $3.3 million.

There was no immediate explanation for the difference in figures.

Cuomo said the bank had offered promotional rates for several years for balance transfers or other loans put onto their Chase credit card accounts.

The offers made clear a one-time transaction fee would be charged for this promotional rate, Cuomo said in the statement. But last November, the bank sent letters to over 300,000 consumers, saying it would start charging a flat $10 fee per month.

Following consumer complaints, the attorney general demanded that Chase cancel the charges and refund the fees collected. Last Thursday, Chase agreed to comply with the demand, Cuomo said.

However, the bank said it decided to withdraw the fee based on cardholders' feedback.

With U.S. credit card defaults at their highest level in at least 20 years, credit card lenders are trying to protect themselves by tightening credit limits, raising standards and closing accounts. They have also been slashing rewards, raising interest rates and increasing fees to cushion losses.

(Reporting by Joseph Giannone and Juan Lagorio; Editing by Andre Grenon, Dave Zimmerman)

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