President signed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 into law on May 22, 2009. Amending the Truth in Lending Act, the Credit Card Act of 2009 requires certain measures to be implemented by the credit card companies in order to comply the new law and help consumers, taking efffect on July 2010. Let me share the changes and challenges of this new law from my research.
Some changes to look out from the credit card companies:
- Require CC companies and banks to give customers a reasonable time, such as 21 days, to pay the bill before it is considered late.
- Bans double-cycle billing, which eliminates the interest-free period for consumers who move from paying the full balance monthly to carrying a balance.
- Prohibits retroactive rate increases unless the cardholder is at least 60 days behind in paying the bill. If a person does fall behind and the rate on past buys is increased, lenders must restore the lower rate after six months if the cardholder has paid monthly bills on time.
- Requires lenders to post their credit card agreements on the Internet.
- Requires that customers receive 45 days notice prior to any change in the annual percentage rate (APR). The notification must also inform cardholders that they have the right to cancel the account before the effective date of the rate increase. If a cardholder cancels the account, the cancellation cannot be considered a default on the account, and cannot trigger an obligation to repay the account in full.
- Prohibited from increasing annual percentage rates (APRs) that apply to existing balances unless specific conditions apply. An APR may be increased only if
1) the index on which the rate is based changes,
2) it is a promotional rate that has expired,
3) a cardholder fails to comply with a hardship workout plan,
4) the account falls 60 days past due.
- Requires anyone under 21 to prove that they can repay the money before being given a card, or have a parent or guardian promise to pay off their debt if they default. (Big blow for college students)
- Prohibits over-the-limit fees unless a cardholder elects to be allowed to go over a limit.
- Requires lenders to say how much time it would take and how much money in interest would be paid if only the minimum monthly payments are made.
- Requires that gift cards remain valid for five years. Under the Senate’s rule, retailers and others that issue Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover gift cards or certificates will have to print explicit dormancy fee information on the card. Sellers of the cards will also have to inform the buyer of the fee.
- Bans “pay-to-pay” fees, which are charged when someone pays the bill by phone or on the Internet.
- CC companies need your permission before allowing you the “privilege” of spending more than your credit limit and paying a fat $39 fee for that privilege.
Other features of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 include:
If different APRs apply to separate portions of an outstanding balance, the amount of any payment beyond the minimum payment due must be applied to the portion of the balance with the highest APR.
If the payment due date is a date when a creditor does not receive or accept payments by mail (e.g., weekends and holidays), the creditor cannot treat a payment received on the next business date as a late payment.
Credit card companies are prohibited from charging a fee based on the manner in which a payment is made (e.g., on line, by telephone).
Some of these reforms are already on track to take effect in July 2010, under new rules by the Federal Reserve.
The new law will be a savior for many credit card holders who are facing credit card debts with high fees during this tough times. But for people who pay off their bills in full each month, and milk card rewards programs for everything they’re worth, there is some cause for concern. After Home affordability and stability plan, this new law is passed to help distressed credit card holders affects consumers who act and does thing right. They might be less in percentage compared to the other group but still a reasonable crowd not really happy about this change for certain reasons.
1. These restrictions will cost more expenses for the credit card companies. To compensate, there are chances of them assessing annnual fees and increase or add other fees.
2. Good credit customers are offered happy rate of 0% APR which already vanished the scene and will never been for a long time to come.
3. With added restrictions, it is going to be hard to get credit cards, which might make more people strapped for money in this tough times.
4. Stripping reward programs – For months now, the card companies have been threatening to cut rewards programs sharply to make up for revenue lost because of the new restrictions. So will credit card companies kill reward programs or drastically scale most of them back? Of course not.
“If you strip away the reward component of a credit card, it’s essentially a commodity,” said Rick Ferguson, editorial director at the loyalty marketing company LoyaltyOne. “The reward is what gives it its personality. It works from a branding perspective as well as a mechanism to influence customer behavior and consolidate spending on a particular card.”
In all, I would say, this new credit card protection bill has lot of good measures packed to help all credit card holders whether they going thru tough times or not. It is very good step forward and should be welcomed but we will have to wait and see how it plays out in the field.
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