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Credit Cards

A comprehensive credit card law is now in place that will help end the tricks that trap consumers in high-cost credit card debt. You can learn more about these key rights below. Click here to see when different provisions of the law go into effect.

The new credit card law includes these consumer protections:

Restricts all interest rate increases during the first year
Restricts interest rate increases on existing balances
Increases notice for rate increase on future purchases
Preserves the ability to pay off on the old terms
Requires fair application of payments
Provides sensible due dates and time to pay
Protects young consumers
Restricts issuance fees on fee harvester cards
Requires enhanced disclosures
Places limits on fees and penalty interest
Requires banks to review rate increase every six months
Establishes gift card protections

Click here to read a full summary of the Credit Card Legislation.

Read the Federal Reserve Board’s Tips on the new Credit Card Law.

Publications

  • Group letter to banking agencies recommending enforcement action under the CARD Act

    July 7, 2010 By Fax (202-452–3819) and First Class Mail The Honorable Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. Washington, DC 20551 Dear Chairman Bernanke: The undersigned groups are contacting you to request that the Federal Reserve Board examine the banks under its supervision Continue Reading

  • Summary of Fed’s Final Rule on August Provisions of CARD Act

    The Federal Reserve Board has issued its proposed regulations governing the final sections of the CARD Act which go into effect August 22, 2010.

  • Paper statement fees?! What to do about this latest trick

    We’ve heard from a number of consumers on our previous blog, Paper statement fees?! Credit card issuers’ latest trick about their frustrations with receiving their bills in the mail and surprise(!) are charged a fee for it.

  • CU comment to the FRB on Regulation Z proposed rule

    Regulation Z: Truth in Lending, Federal Reserve Board Docket No. R-1384

  • Summary of Fed’s proposal for final CARD Act provisions

    Federal Reserve Board Proposed Rule, Regulation Z March 2010 The Federal Reserve Board has issued its proposed regulations governing the final sections of the CARD Act which go into effect August 22, 2010. The Agency will be accepting public comment on the following provisions which relate to the size of penalty fees and the process Continue Reading

  • A Consumer’s Guide to Using Credit Cards

    As a consumer, it pays to be smart when choosing and using a credit card. Click the link below to access a site maintained by the Federal Reserve Board which provides a basic guide to navigating the credit card process. – Learning more about credit card offers – Understanding your statement – Credit card repayment Continue Reading

  • Have you been ripped off by the big banks or other lenders?

    Have you been hit with unexpected fees that drain your bank account? Have you taken out a loan that turned out to be full of tricks and traps? Consumers Union wants to hear your story because it will help us illustrate why consumers deserve stronger protection. Tell us your story so we can build support for real reform that helps consumers not the big banks!

    cu.convio.net/shareyourmoneystory

  • What You Need to Know: New Credit Card Rules

    The Federal Reserve Board’s new rules for credit card companies mean new credit card protections for you. Here is the Board’s summary of the key changes you should expect from your credit card company beginning on February 22, 2010.

  • Credit Card Comments to the Federal Reserve

    Consumers Union asks the Federal Reserve to make sure credit card companies don’t try to get around the new limits on rate increases and fees through creative new charge schemes or other unfair demands on customers.

  • We got the credit card banks on the run!

    Your complaints over interest rate hikes, ridiculous new fees and higher minimum payments were heard loud and clear! The House just froze rate hikes on your credit card balances, and gave you new protections starting Dec. 1 — just in time for the holidays. Now we need the Senate to hear us and do the same! Email your Senators right now and tell them you can’t afford to wait for a February law to stop the credit card companies’ abusive tactics.

Press Releases

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Blog Posts

  • Data Breaches Driving You Crazy? California DMV gives consumers new reason to worry.

    Uh, oh. It’s happened again: another data breach. Consumers who used the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) online credit card payment system may find their credit card information is at risk. The California DMV’s Public Information Officer, Armando Botello, says that the DMV was “alerted by law enforcement authorities to a potential security issue Continue Reading

  • Does Bling equal Ka-ching? A Credit Card for the One Percent

    by guest blogger Caitlin Watkins Would you spend $7500 for a piece of metal in your pocket? Fancy metal credit cards don’t provide any better consumer protection than the plain ol’ plastic. In fact, their fees are often higher. We’ve been seeing some fancy metal cards popping up lately from almost every credit card company, Continue Reading

  • Capital One May Come A-Knocking

              Capital One’s update to their contract with customers takes big brother to the next level, even for a credit card company. The language says “we may contact you in any manner we choose” and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a “personal visit.” In addition, the contract says Continue Reading

  • Why The CFPB Is The Best Thing To Happen To Americans Since J.Law

    Jennifer Lawrence is pretty awesome, right? For several years now she’s excelled at playing characters that excite the American imagination- they’re young, vibrant, and struggle against difficult odds or crafty opponents.  The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is also young, rather vibrant, and also goes to battle with powerful forces but, despite all this, the Continue Reading

  • Worried About the Target Breach? The CFPB Has Some Tips

    As the fallout from the Target data breach continues (along with Neiman Marcus and Michael’s), many consumers are wondering what, if anything, they can do to protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.  Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a “consumer advisory” with basic tips on how to keep your information safe. So Continue Reading

  • What’s Annoying about the Credit Cards in Your Wallet?

    About 7 in 10 Americans carry at least one credit card in their wallet, which means a lot of folks know a lot about credit cards from direct experience. Recent reports indicate that consumers’ credit card experiences are not all positive. Consumer complaints about credit cards are second only to complaints about mortgages according to Continue Reading

  • Transaction Monitoring and Credit Monitoring in Light of the Target Breach

    Target has begun to offer security breach victims free credit monitoring for a year now that approximately 110 million Americans may have had their data compromised due to a security breach. We’ve advised consumers to conduct regular transaction monitoring to prevent fraud, and now some consumers have been asking us, “What’s the difference between transaction Continue Reading

  • Scam Bam, No Thank You Ma’am: How to Avoid Being Scammed after the Target Security Breach

    by guest blogger Caitlin Watkins In the wake of the Target security breach, there are a number of scams that are popping up. These scams try to gather consumer’s personal and credit information. This is adding to insult to injury, as we also just found out that the initial 40 million Target customers affected by Continue Reading

  • Off Target: What to Do If Your Information Is in Peril

    by guest blogger Caitlin Watkins Are you one of the 40 million Americans who had their debit or credit information stolen in the recent Target security breach?  If you shopped at any Target store from November 27 to December 15th and used a credit or debit card, you are mostly likely very concerned about your Continue Reading

  • CFPB Takes Action Against Deferred Interest Credit Provider for Deceptive Practices

    We’ve been warning consumers of the dangers of deferred interest credit plans (see here, here and here). There is good news to report for consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against one of the larger companies in this space: CareCredit. CareCredit’s deferred interest credit cards are sold in 175,000 healthcare providers’ offices, Continue Reading

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News Articles

  • Fed proposes limits on credit card penalty fees
    Source: AP (Wednesday March 3, 2010)

    The Federal Reserve on Wednesday proposed strict limits on penalty fees and other charges that credit card companies can slap on customers for missteps such as late payments or going over credit limits.

  • A proposal for reining in credit card fees
    Source: New York Times (Wednesday March 3, 2010)

    Rule calls for credit card issuers to revisit interest rate increases made during the last year — and there have been many — to determine if the increases were still justified.

  • What Fed proposal does, doesn't do
    Source: USA Today (Monday March 8, 2010)

    The Fed’s proposal gives the card industry a “big out” when evaluating whether consumers’ interest rates should be lowered

  • Bank credit card fees keep going up

    In recent months, many issuers have raised interest rates for borrowers even as the Federal Reserve has cut rates. They’re doing so ahead of a federal regulation that takes effect next year, curtailing their ability to raise rates on existing credit card debt, says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com.

  • The reason behind Capital One's rate increase

    Last month, Capital One raised some eyebrows by significantly increasing their rates on new customers on the majority of their credit cards. The advertised annual percentage rate on these 15 cards increased from an average of 12.45 percent to 17.24 percent. One could ask, “What’s left in your wallet?”

  • How to lower your credit card interest rate

    If you have a credit card, you might be getting a letter in the mail with some bad news: your credit card company is jacking up your interest rate. Never mind if you’ve been an excellent customer, whose always paid your bills on time. Some of the biggest credit card companies, including Capital One, Citibank, and HSBC, are now raising rates on millions of customers.

  • Credit card firms continue to raise interest rates and fees

    Has the interest rate on your credit card gone up recently? If so, you’re not alone. In the past several months, a number of credit card companies have instituted changes to customers’ accounts, increasing rates and tacking on fees.

  • House of Cards

    These tactics are not going to improve the credit-card industry’s dismal reputation. They’re also not going to help an economy in recession, since reduced credit lines take away an important cushion for consumer spending, and higher interest rates and increased fees are likely to drive more people to default.

  • American Express, Chase cut card limits lowering credit scores

    About 45 percent of U.S. banks reduced credit limits for new or existing credit-card customers in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a Federal Reserve January survey of senior loan officers. Financial institutions may slash $2 trillion in credit- card lines in the next 18 months, Meredith Whitney, a former Oppenheimer & Co. analyst, wrote in a Nov. 30 report.

  • Buy something, or else

    One of the biggest causes of the financial crisis was that Americans were borrowing (and spending) more money than they could afford to pay back. So how are credit-card issuers reacting to consumers’ attempts to live a more financially responsible lifestyle? They’re threatening to cut their credit cards off if they don’t spend enough.

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