August 27th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) President Laura Chinchilla has signed a bill that would limit the maximum interest rate charged by credit card issuers and department stores.
A recent study shows that credit card interest rates from private bank range between 22% and 50.4%; in public banks between 20.5% and 39.5%, and in department stores and retailers from 35.76% to 54%.
The result of these high interest rates is that many Costa Ricans end up paying three times the amount for a purchased item, according to Economic Minister, Mayi Antillon.
The bill presented by the Chinchilla’s government would establish a usury limit on these interest rates. Under the bill, the maximum interest that could be charged would be twice that of the quarterly average charged by the National Financial System (Sistema Financiero Nacional).
For example, today the quarterly average rate is 17.39% in colones, which would mean under the bill the upper limit on interest rates in colones would be 34.77%. In dollars, the average rate is currently 10.9%, meaning the upper limit for interest in dollars would be 21.8%.
President Chinchilla said the bill is in response to the fact that the country has not seen any downward adjustment in such interest rates, despite the significant decrease in the basic passive rate (TBP). The President is urging lawmakers to support the bill.
The Consumers Association of Costa Rica has also voiced its support for the bill.