Credit card companies are in a precarious position this year as con­sumers start to batten down the hatches and reduce their spending, while some face potential bankruptcy.

That could mean some noticeable changes with your Visa, MasterCard and American Express, from higher interest rates to a more aggressive chase against unpaid debts.

Michael Kon, an analyst at Morningstar in Chicago, said mounting job losses, and an increasingly dismal U.S. economy has left U.S. banks wary about handing out credit readily to consumers. Those attitudes are already permeating into Canada and should only worsen this year. “What we see is banks cutting credit lines, cancelling credit cards for risky consumers,” Kon said. “We see quite a strong tightening wave across the industry.”