Consumers have been playing by credit card companies' rules, and now the companies are going to have to play by the president's rules. President Obama is expected to sign new credit card legislation known as the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which Congress approved Wednesday in a 361-to-64 vote. The legislation will reform the way credit card companies run their businesses, affecting everything from interest rate policies to gift cards. To learn some of the important provisions in the bill,
- Customers must be over 60 days late on payments before banks can apply penalty interest rates on existing balances.
- Card companies will have to give notification 45 days before raising customers' interest rates.
- Credit card statements must be issued 21 days before a customer's bill is due.
- Late fees will not be applied to payments made by 5 p.m. on the bill's due date, and the same goes for payments due on holidays or Sundays and received a day later.
- Cardholders will have to be alerted when a purchase will set them over their credit limit. A fee can be applied only if the customer has given authorization to go over the limit.
- Now there's something else you can't do until you're 21. The law will require anyone under 21 to have a co-signer on cards, unless the person can show proof of income.
- Gift cards: Dormancy fee information must be printed on the cards and the buyer must be informed of any fees at the time they're purchasing gift cards. Cards and certificates cannot expire before five years of the card's issue date and terms of expiration will be printed on the cards.