WALNUT CREEK Calif. (12/15/09)--While many banks are raising rates, lowering available credit limits and increasing fees, Pacific Service CU has lowered its credit card rates for 80% of its cardholders. As a result of a new program design, rates at the credit union are between 8.9% and 13.9% annual percentage rate (APR), based on credit qualifications. "While most financial institutions are raising costs to consumers through higher interest rates and fees, Pacific Service is lowering costs to consumers by restructuring products and services to create market-leading value," said Steve Punch, president of the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based credit union. "Earlier this year we launched four new checking programs that lowered costs for thousands of consumers. Those programs were very well-received, and we expect a similar response for our redesigned Visa credit card program," Punch said. The program is unique in the current marketplace, said the credit union. It assesses no fees for cash advances, balance transfers, carrying a zero balance or paying the balance in full each month. It has low variable rates, a 25-day grace period on purchases, and the same interest rate for purchases and cash advances. It also has no annual fee for basic Visa Platinum cardholders. Visa Rewards Platinum cardholders can avoid a $25 annual fee with a qualifying credit union checking account. Also, Rewards points earned do not expire. "Most credit card programs are fee-driven as a way for the financial institution to earn additional revenue and post a better bottom line," said Kristin Dove, vice president of marketing at Pacific Service. "But, excessive fees and astronomically high interest rates are unfair to consumers who manage their finances responsibly." For its fair and ethical practices, Pacific Service CU's credit card program recently received the Credit Card Connection's highest five stars rating. Pacific Service CU has more than $1 billion in assets.