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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.


  • 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!

  • 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

  • PayPal Behaving Badly?

    CFPB Files Complaint Alleging Unfair, Deceptive and Abusive Practices   PayPal enrolled people in its credit program, known as Pay Pal Credit (formerly Bill Me Later), without their permission,  forced customers to use PayPal Credit even when they indicated they wanted to pay another way, failed to properly process payments, refused to honor and apply Continue Reading

  • ALERT! Wells Fargo Sued for Allegedly Opening Unauthorized Customer Accounts: 3 Things You Can Do

    The Los Angeles City Attorney (Mike Feuer) on Tuesday filed a civil lawsuit against Wells Fargo alleging the bank opened up savings and checking accounts and issued credit cards in customers’ names, without authorization.  The lawsuit further alleges that Wells Fargo failed to inform customers of the alleged misuse of their personal information and did Continue Reading

  • CFPB Answers Our Letter About Possible CARD Act Violations at Schools

    We recently told you about our investigation into whether colleges and universities with credit card marketing agreements were making their agreements available to the public.  Using information from the CFPB’s college credit card database, we contacted 10 schools with the largest active account volume that did not post their agreements or offer guidance for how Continue Reading

  • CU Says Colleges May Be Violating CARD Act; Will Colleges Respond?

    In the 2000s, colleges and credit card companies got a lot of flack for entering into agreements to aggressively market credit cards to students on campus.  After the 2008 financial collapse, Congress passed the CARD Act – which, among other things, requires all schools with credit card agreements to make them available to the public. Continue Reading

  • Subprime Credit Card Company Ordered to Return Millions

    Continental Finance Company, a company that markets credit cards to folks with dinged-up credit, agreed today to refund an estimated $2.7 million to tens of thousands of customers to compensate them for illegal fees and charges, according to a consent order Continental signed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Continental credit cards carried annual Continue Reading

  • Have You Received Your Free FICO Score?

    Consumers are finally seeing substantial progress in the credit score market. They’ve long faced real challenges in getting the same credit score that their banks and lenders purchased when making lending decisions about them. But over the past year, millions of Americans have gained access to free, reliable credit scores. Recently, President Obama announced that more Continue Reading

  • Thirty-Five Things in 12 Months: CFPB Working for You–2014 in Review

    As this year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the many actions the CFPB has taken to defend your rights as a consumer of financial services and products.  The CFPB has a tough job, as we all know, and they’ve done it well.  They are an indispensable Continue Reading

  • From Strip to Chip: New Payment Cards Are Coming

    Your payment cards may look different in 2015. Card issuers are rolling out cards with smart chip (also known as EMV) technology. The chips – little gold micro processors that are built into the card (see picture) – make payment cards more secure, but consumers will have to adapt in order to use them. The Continue Reading

  • Another Day, Another Data Breach

    What to Do If You Recently Shopped at Staples or bebe Have you shopped at bebe or Staples recently? If the answer is yes, your payment card information could be at risk. Both chains confirmed security breaches in which crooks are suspected of stealing customers’ payment card information. After data breaches such these, consumers are Continue Reading

  • Sham Alert: CFPB Sues to Stop Business “Built on Duping Consumers”

    A red-hot Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is taking on another bad actor. The latest: a lawsuit against a company that allegedly tricks consumers into signing-up for what they may think is a use-anywhere credit card but is in fact a paper membership card that can only be used to buy from the company, Union 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

  • 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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