STRINGS ATTACHED

TO PRESERVE PROFITS, COMPETING CREDIT-CARD ISSUERS ARE ADDING FEES AND REDUCING INCENTIVES

Been bombarded by any new credit-card offers lately? Millions of preapproved applications land in U.S. mailboxes every day. But now, mixed in with come-ons for frequent-flyer miles and cards that sport a picture of your dog, sterner messages are being delivered by many issuers. Faced with soaring delinquencies and smarter consumers in a glutted $700 billion marketplace, lenders are suddenly jacking up interest rates, slapping on new fees and pulling back benefits. In September, GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric, warned holders of its GE Rewards MasterCard to expect a $25 annual penalty unless they racked up some interest-bearing...

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