By now, everyone knows that there’s been a credit card reform bill that was supposed to make a lot of positive changes for consumers. Truthfully, there have been some nice changes, especially if you’ve taken a look at your credit card bill and seen the little graph that shows how your balance will be paid off quicker if you make higher payments, and how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you only make the minimum payment.

Well, it seems there’s a dirty little secret that’s taking advantage of some of you, and may skew the figures somewhat. It seems that if you have a credit card where you’ve not only got a regular balance, but a cash advance balance, your payments are only being applied to your credit balance and not your cash advance if you have a balance in both areas.

Why is this a big deal? Two reasons. One, because most cash advance interest rates are much higher than the normal credit card interest rate. there could be as much as a 100% difference between using regular credit and getting a cash advance, such as 13% and 26%. Two, part of this was covered under the new law, but the caveat was that if you paid “more than the minimum” amount then the extra had to be applied to the highest interest amount on your account.

What this means is that the credit card issuers are doing the legal thing, if not quite the most fair thing. If you didn’t know before, now you know. By the way, you can’t request the payment to be applied to one or the other either, so the best thing you can do is find a way to pay even $10 more per month on your bill so that you can bring down the higher interest amount as well.