Those rates are quite high. If you have an excellent credit rating and good salary then apply for another card with a better rate of interest. Have a look at Martin's Money Saving Expert website for some suggestions of the best.
You could do a balance transfer from your existing cards to the new one, although that will cost you. Alternatively, do your essential spending, eg supermarket shopping, on your new card, and then immediately pay the equivalent amount to your old card companies to reduce the amount owing on this. You need to be focussed on this so that you don't end up just increasing your debt.
I suppose whilst I'm aware of the current financial climate, and also know that banks are bastards, I know not everyones rates have gone up - is it really just as cyncical as I have a balance on my card, they want to make more dosh out of me, so they up it? If that's the case, are they allowed to? Can I challenge it?
Does anyone have 'inside' information about why they pick who they pick? I've checked my Experian Credit report and it says I have an almost perfect credit record with a rating of 'excellent'. I always pay on time, so why me?
The fact that you always pay on time may (because I don't know this for sure, I'm just cynical!) in fact be a factor in their putting your rate up because they don't get any late payment charges from you!
Really, they can do what they like in terms of interest rates and I think your best bet is to try and find a cheaper rate elsewhere. If not then you could consider consolidating it into a personal loan with a cheaper APR or try and pay it off as quickly as you possibly can.
Pocket, that happened to me with Barclaycard - I always pay on time and have a small balance so I just paid it off and cut it up. I know there has been a credit crunch but the base rate is 1.5% and the banks are starting to take the piss.
they want to improve their profits and I am not going to be the mug that helps them do that.
Have just gone through my bank account and worked out exactly how much extra I can pay each month. If I change to another card they could just do the same thing to me, so as you say MP - pay em off - no more credit cards for me...
Don't forget you can actually negotiate with banks. Whenever they've tried to increase my interest rate I've rang them to remind them I'm a good customer who could easily go elsewhere (like you are!). Each time the rate was reduced to a more reasonable level again.