Along with the other Federal banking regulators, the OCC issued guidance in January 2003 that required changes in credit card lending and account management practices. The guidance applies to all financial institutions that issue credit cards.

One of the new requirements is to increase the minimum payment amount so that at least a portion of that payment goes toward the principal. This ensures that the debt amortizes.

Prior to this directive, the industry standard was a minimum payment amount of only 2 percent of the outstanding balance. Given that payment, with a common interest rate of 26.99 percent, it could take as long as 30 years to pay off a balance depending on the usage of the credit card.

If you cannot afford the increase, you should contact your bank directly to discuss a payment plan.