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New Credit Card Reform On The Horizon

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, announced today (3/31/09) that the Committee passed comprehensive legislation he authored to protect consumers from confusing, misleading and predatory practices by credit card companies. “I commend the Banking Committee for passing this legislation, and am determined to see this bill pass the United States Senate and become law.”

Credit cards can be a valuable financial tool for millions of Americans.  When used wisely, and on fair terms, credit cards can help families better position themselves to pursue financial goals such as owning a home or financing higher education for their children.  Unfortunately, however, credit cards too often pose a potential to harm consumers rather than help them.  Confusing, misleading, and in some cases predatory practices have become standard operating procedure for those in the credit card industry.

This is particularly troubling in today’s economic environment, where consumers are increasingly unable to pay their credit card bills due to rising gas and food prices, skyrocketing health care costs, unemployment, and a mortgage crisis that has robbed many families of another financial resource – their home equity or, worse yet, their homes.

Americans do not deserve to be pushed down the economic ladder by credit card companies. The CARD Act will protect Americans by bringing an end to wrongful credit card practices and helping to provide consumers with a fair chance to secure economic security in their futures.”

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (the C.A.R.D. Act) is designed to stop credit card practices that drag consumers into staggering amounts of debt, and too often harm, rather than help, the ability of American families to move up the economic ladder. While some companies heeded Dodd’s call, too few changed their policies and behaviors. The CARD Act will strengthen the credit card industry’s regulation and oversight, and forbid unfair and deceptive practices such as universal default and double-cycle billing.
Among other provisions, the legislation will:

  • Strengthen Credit Card Industry Regulation and Supervision
  • Prohibits Exorbitant and Unnecessary Rates and Fees
  • Protect the Rights of Financially Responsible Credit Card Users
  • Prohibit issuers from using a consumer’s card history with another creditor to raise interest rates (“universal default” ban)
  • Prevent “any-time, any reason” Increases in Interest Rate and Terms
  • Require Fairness in Application of Card Payments
  • Adequately Ensures Safeguards for Young People
  • Provides Enhanced Disclosures of Card Terms and Conditions

The Credit CARD Act will help protect American consumers by bringing an end to wrongful credit card practices.

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