Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Law Puts Credit Card Companies in Crosshairs

From Military.com By Kelly Johnson

A new piece of legislation was recently signed into law that has credit card companies in its crosshairs. The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 aims to protect credit card holders from unnecessary interest rate hikes, finance charge increases and other unfair practices that ran rampant in the past.

The act — signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 22 — amends the Truth in Lending Act to prohibit creditors from increasing the annual percentage rate of interest (APR) to an existing credit card balance unless specified conditions are met. Additionally, creditors are prohibited from extending a line of credit to consumers under age 18, unless they’re emancipated under state law, or the consumer's parent or legal guardian is designated as the primary account holder.

According to bill sponsor Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-NY) website other notable provisions include:

  • Prevents cardholders who pay on time from being unfairly penalized.
  • Protects cardholders from due date gimmicks.
  • Shields cardholders from misleading terms.
  • Empowers cardholders to set limits on their credit.
  • Requires card companies to fairly credit and allocate payments.
  • Prohibits card companies from imposing excessive fees on cardholders.
  • Prevents card companies from giving subprime credit cards to people who can’t afford them.
  • Requires Congress to provide better oversight of the credit card industry.

Consumer advocate organizations and lawmakers applaud the signing of the bill of rights. The Center for Responsible Lending released a statement the day President Obama signed the act stating:

“The Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights arrives just in time. If deceptive credit card activities continued unchecked — as with subprime mortgages — the results would be even more devastating for borrowers and an economy already struggling to avoid financial ruin.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine also commended the move to protect credit card holders, calling the bill “comprehensive reform” that will “make it easier for Americans to pay down their debt and empower consumers to understand the terms of the credit card agreements.”

The new regulations won’t go into effect until the summer of 2010, which according to some financial experts, gives creditors time to hike up interest rates before they have to abide by the new regulations. However, Maloney has a way for consumers to register complaints if credit card issuers continue unfair practices.

Maloney proposed The Banking Hotline bill (HR 1455), which will establish a single toll-free number and website to help consumers register complaints about their banks.


  1. Great post. What i like is consumer can register complaints if card issuer do some unfair practices.

  2. I agree, I think this was a wonderful bill passed. Maloney did a great job anticipating potential issues and delays, and this was a great passage for consumer protection.

  3. Just because a credit card offers a 0% or 2% interest rate on balance transfers does not mean that you will be approved for that offer. Cards always put their best foot forward; but sometimes people are approved for the cards under different terms, based on their credit scores and payment histories. Take a close look, because often the credit card you apply for will tell you that if you don't qualify for the terms of the offer they will issue you a credit card with higher interest rates or different overall terms. If this happens, will the higher rates be beneficial to you, or will you just end up with a second credit card that charges a fortune in fees. For more details visit us at remortgages.