The Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates for months — and has indicated it won’t be stopping any time soon as inflation stubbornly remains at a 40-year high.

For people carrying credit card balances, that’s bad news.

Interest rates are now so high that a $5,000 balance on your plastic will result in an extra $1,000 in payments over the course of a year, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“In the coming months, even more people may turn to their credit cards as increasing prices for necessities like groceries and gas upend their budgets,” the watchdog agency said in a blog post. “But this borrowing comes at a cost.”

Unfortunately, many households now surviving paycheck to paycheck have little choice but to borrow money via credit cards.

And that’s, needless to say, great news for card issuers.

“In 2021, large credit card banks reported an annualized return on assets of near 7% — the highest level since at least 2000,” the CFPB said.

“Since 2005, the same top six credit card issuers have accounted for over two-thirds of total balances,” it observed, adding that the agency will investigate banks’ lending practices.

It wants to know if rewards programs and the high cost of switching cards “explain the industry’s persistently high interest rates or if anti-competitive practices, such as those that prevent consumers from receiving better offers, have driven issuers’ profits at cardholders’ expense.”

My advice: As best as you can, limit the size of balances carried from month to month.

Don’t open more than three credit card accounts. Otherwise you could look riskier to lenders and see even higher interest rates.

Set up a household budget to help get a handle on spending.

These are tough economic times — no one disputes that.

But you don’t have to help create a windfall for card companies quietly rooting for you to go deeper into debt.