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Fed Credit Card Tips Coming to a Theater Near You

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Snuggle up with some popcorn and learn how to avoid unnecessary charges.

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Sneak previews of upcoming blockbusters. Snappy reminders to buy popcorn, and turn off all cell phones and pagers.

Movie theater audiences can now add another item to the list of things to expect before the film actually begins: Federal Reserve advice about credit card use.

Timed for the upcoming kickoff of the holiday shopping season, the Fed said Wednesday it will run ads in 12 movie theaters from Black Friday through Dec. 3.

Sandwiched between soft drink and popcorn ads, the 45-second spots will provide shoppers with tips to help them avoid racking up unnecessary charges and fees on their credit cards.

Those tips include:

  • Paying bills on time to avoid late fees.

  • Staying below credit limits to avoid fees and higher interest rates.

  • Paying more than the minimum payment each month, which over time will cut down on interest charges.

  • Paying attention to transactions fees for things like cash advances or paying a bill by phone.

  • Watching for changes in account terms.

The ads will run in Boston, New York, Bensalem, Pa., Valley View, Ohio, Hanover, Md., Boca Raton, Fla., Chicago, Hazelwood, Mo., Edina, Minn., Olathe, Kan., Houston and Long Beach, Calif., said Fed spokeswoman Susan Stawick. By selecting those locations, each of the Fed's 12 regional banks are represented.

It was not immediately known how much the ads are costing the Fed to produce and air, Stawick said.

The ads come as the Fed has run into criticism on Capitol Hill for not speeding up the effective date of tough new rules to better protect credit card customers from sudden interest rate hikes. Those rules take effect on Feb. 22. The House recently approved legislation to speed up the effective date, but prospects are dim for Senate passage.

Major card issuers, including Chase (JPM) and Citibank (C) have been using all sorts of means to extract higher fee income. (See also The Gall in Your Credit Card Fine Print)

Close-up shots of Fed chief Ben Bernanke or peeks inside the central bank's stately headquarters -- one of Washington's most mysterious institutions -- do not appear in the ads. Instead, they feature shots of cash on fire, piles of credit card bills and stacks of plastic credit cards.

It's not the first time the Fed has hit the silver screen.

Earlier this year, it ran ads in movie theaters to warn people about foreclosure scams.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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