A new comparative survey of 39 credit card offers from many of the nation’s largest U.S. banks and credit unions has been released, offering consumers an opportunity to study offers on the basis of annual fees and APR rates, and fees.

Consumer Action’s 2009 Credit Card Survey was conducted from March 4 through May 20, 2009 by a pair of Virginia Tech students being coordinated by consumer advocate Ruth Susswein of Consumer Action. The study, released last week, compared available online information about each card as well as followup phone calls asking specific questions about the cards and the banks' policies.

A supplement to the survey includes issuer contact and website information, and a condensed comparison of all cards.

The complete survey offers explanatory information and detailed charts.Other findings in the survey include specific answers to questions about when interest rates can rise and when customers can request lower rates.

The survey warns consumers that all rates published in the survey are subject to change and should be verified before acquiring the card.

Consumer Action is based in San Francisco, with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

General Findings:

- 31 cards had no annual fees. The average fee for the remaining eight cards was $62.75.

- Grace periods: One card had a six day grace period; three cards were at 20-25 days; 14 cards were 20 days; 18 cards were 25 days; one card was between 28 and 31 days. One two cards the surveyors could not determine the grace period.

- APR average for purchase was 12.83% for all cards 

- APR for Average Variable cards was slightly higher at 13.20% than fixed variable card averages at 10.03 percent.

See Survey Summary here

See Complete Survey, including details on fees here (PDF file 35 pages)

See Supplement with Direct Comparison of 39 Cards, rates and fees here