Consumers are now familiar with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 or CARD and how it protects borrowers against unfair interest rate hikes and other exorbitant credit card fees. However, most consumers are not aware that the Federal Reserve1enacted new rules for credit card companies on February 22, 2010 to ensure that consumer rights outlined in the CARD Act of 2009 are truly protected. As the regulatory agency of America’s banks, the Federal Reserve has to police the banks to make sure that they don’t try to exploit potential loopholes in legislation and thereby exploit consumers.
The following consumer protections are outlined in the vclub.tel February 2010 regulations enacted by the Federal Reserve:
Card issuers must tell you how long it will take to pay your balance in full. Now your monthly bill must include a breakdown of how long it will take to pay off your balance if you only make the minimum payments as well as what you would need to pay each month in order to pay off your balance in three years.
No interest rate increases for the first 12 months. Credit card companies can no longer increase your rate for the first 12 months after you open an account, EXCEPT IF:
- Your card has a variable interest rate tied to an index.
- There is an introductory rate, but it must be in place for at least 6 months.
- You are over 60 days late in paying your bill.
- You violate a payment arrangement agreement.
You MUST be notified when they plan to increase your rate or other fees. Your credit card company is now required to give you 45 days written notice before they can
- Increase your interest rate;
- Change fees that apply to your account
- Make any significant changes to the credit contract terms.
If you do not agree to the new terms you now have 45 days to cancel your card before the changes are put into effect. However, if you do choose to cancel your card your card issuer may close your account and increase your monthly payment, with certain limitations.
Increased interest rates can only be applied to new charges. If after 12 months your interest rate is increased it cannot be applied to a balance accrued before the rate increase itself.