Maloney Introduces Credit Card Bill Of Rights; Lending Institutions Smirk

The Credit Card Bill Of Rights Act, which was introduced on Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives, would limit interest rate hikes and late fee penalties that credit card companies use to unfairly squeeze profits from customers. The bill is sponsored by House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA).

Among the key provisions of the “Credit Card Bill of Rights Act” are prohibitions on:

  • Bait-and-switch interest rate and fee hikes for any or no reason at all during the life of the card;
  • Assessing hidden and unfair interest rate charges by charging interest on balances already paid off;
  • Unjustifiably maximizing interest charges by requiring consumers to pay off balances with lower interest rates before those with higher rates;
  • Charging late fees when consumers mail their payments seven days in advance of the due date; and
  • Applying certain unfair interest rate hikes retroactively to balances incurred under the old rate.

The bill has the support of several consumer advocacy groups, including Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and the Center for Responsible Lending. The supporters point out, however, that the bill doesn’t address some of the industry’s worst practices like universal default or over-limit fees for transactions that are approved by the lender.

“Maloney Bill Targets Credit Card Abuses” [Consumer Federation of America]
“Credit card bill of rights?” [SeattlePI]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. BigBoat says:

    It’s a start!

  2. Parting says:

    Nice, hope to see something similar in Canada soon.

  3. thirdbase says:

    Based on how effective the Airline Bill Of Rights is I don’t hold out much hope for this being anything but puffery by the politicians

  4. Snarkysnake says:

    An ill wind blows…

    Cardholders are fed up. Clearly, the “free market” isn’t working. Hate to say it, but if the current worry about the economy plays out badly, there will be a political window of opportunity to stop this industry’s more odious practices (universal default , arbitration hocus pocus etc…). It’s about time for a major beat down of these companies. As bad as government intervention usually is, it is hard to see how it could be worse for most cardholders than the system we have now. All of you “free market” assholes can just shut your pie hole about how this will “restrict credit to the poor”. The poor already have a shitty deal with these companies . They will be a lot less poor if they don’t have to fork over their scarce $$$ for bogus fees and gotcha traps. I say lets punish these companies so that they will wish for something as mild as this “bill of rights”.

  5. hypnotik_jello says:

    @Snarkysnake: The free market works great when there is transparency and true in the marketplace. When there is not, it blows.

  6. mac-phisto says:

    how about:
    -adjusting billing cycle without sufficient prior noticce

    or my personal favorite:
    -payment due dates that fall on non-processing days (i.e. – sundays & federal holidays)

    ^ got slammed for $78 in late fees back in september b/c i was wrapped up in a project at work & overlooked that one card was due on sunday & one was due on monday (labor day). normally i pay well in advance of the due date, but occasionally distractions happen.

  7. GC says:

    Never mail a check or money order. You’re just asking for trouble.

  8. hypnotik_jello says:

    @GC: Send it certified return receipt if you have to mail something.

  9. john_nyc says:

    How’s this one… Citicards called me yesterday morning at 7:30 AM asking if I could send them a payment, since they’d sent me my bill already. I told them I hadn’t received it (and the payment isn’t normally due until the 3rd week of the month on my cycle). She said, “yes, we mailed it on Feb 7th. I said “ok.. that was yesterday”. To which she responded, “I see… well I’m not sure why the system called you, but it’d be great if you could make a payment anyway, or else the system will continue to call you”.

    WTF is up with that? Is Citibank that hard up for money that they have to annoy customers unless they agree to pay their bill early?

  10. ShortBus says:

    @hypnotik_jello: And pay $5.21 extra for each bill? I think that’s a bit excessive. But it’s a good reason to online bill pay.

  11. forgottenpassword says:

    Some obscure gov. rep/committee is no match for the credit card lobby! They will weasel out of this somehow & find creative ways to still get want they want & fuck over their customers. Its what they do best.

  12. chocxtc says:

    This is yet another opportunity for us to get ALL our friends to call our representatives and get them to pass this. Just as in a previous posting it is a start, and I agree it does not go far enough. We have to take back control of our society by holding representatives accountable. The calls work!!

  13. AlphaWolf says:

    It is really too bad we need so many government regulations but let’s face it the large global companies these days do not police themselves; it is all about fleecing us for every dime possible.

    Nice to see someone in government is paying attention.

  14. JiminyChristmas says:

    @john_nyc:

    Is Citibank that hard up for money that they have to annoy customers unless they agree to pay their bill early?

    Um, yes. They are.

    Citibank has written off at least $15billion is losses in the past few months.

  15. Techguy1138 says:

    Realize the for this to happen the person made only the minimum
    payment paying less then $2.50 a week on the principle. As the minimum
    payment was lowered so was the person payment so she never payed more
    than $2.50 a week on the principle.

    Even at 2% interest she would have paid well over $1000 at her rate of repayment.

    A loan isn’t free money. You should expect to pay it back and the faster you pay it back the better.

    It would have better to work out something with her mortage company
    than do all of this. She could have done something to improver her life
    with that 8k.

    If she continued to pay the initial payment of $80~ she would have paid off the loan years earlier and paid roughly 5,500 less.

  16. Techguy1138 says:

    Umm yeah taht was cut and pasted into the wrong article. Is there any way to delete or edit this?

  17. BigSkyConference says:

    This is probably just a rehash of the Loan Shark Prevention Act which was introduced a few years ago and quietly swept under the carpet. I immagine this one will end up there too. Our politicians don’t seem to want to do much to the credit card industry as long as they have one of their cards in their wallet.

  18. Anonymous says:

    One reason I have a CC with Bank Of America and another with Citi Bank is due to the fact that I can walk to the local branch and make the payments. No chance of “lost” or late payments. I know that this option may not be available to everyone, but your local bank may have CC’s available.

  19. TechnoDestructo says:

    @hypnotik_jello:

    true what? Competition? If that’s the word you left out, I couldn’t agree more.

    It would be nice if government protected markets by making sure the rules favored competition…but dammit, monopolists just pay so well.

  20. taka2k7 says:

    but they won’t be able to make money if you limit their fees!!! waaaaahhhhhh!

    Seriously, if they can’t make money on 10% interest then there is something seriously wrong. Credit limits are too high for many people who can’t control themselves. There needs to be a serious restriction on the loose credit that has gotten us into this mess. Yeah the economy will suck, but any economy that is based upon consumer debt spending is unsustainable and not to mention a self-imposed tax.

    off my soap box…

  21. Jcakes says:

    Finally congress has something to say! These guys have taken usury to a whole new level.
    It’s not about free market, it’s about them using the legal system to skew the market in their favor.

  22. JustAGuy2 says:

    I’m totally opposed to this. These fees and interest charges are what funds the awards programs I get from my credit cards, and the occasional opportunity to grab some arbitrage profit from a fixed-rate credit card loan below my after-tax savings account rate.

  23. Starfury says:

    Years back I took a business law class and in California the postmark date on the mailed in payment is considered to be the date the payment is received. I don’t think this has been changed; I mail payments 1-2 days before the due date and haven’t had any issues.

  24. gizmo78 says:

    Well, I’m honestly torn here. I own a lot of Citicorp stock, so *your* unjust late fees and random interest rate increases are *my* retirement fund. Maybe if you remember that it’s funding a comfy retirement for me when you’re paying your bill it will make you feel better about it. Then again maybe not.

  25. Truth-Teller says:

    Apparently, no one has read the 6 point font on the back of the credit card’s billing statement. It might take a magniying glass for some. Essentially it states that the balance on any day will be multiplied by the daily interest rate and that interest added to that day’s balance. That is daily compounding. In calculating the average daily balance all the balances for the period are added and the average determined by dividing the total by the number of days in the billing period. Now, that number is multiplied by the number of day in a period, then multipled by the number of periods in a year. For those who are finacially astute, the result is higher than the Nominal APR stated. Next, the Nominal APR is not the mathematically-true APR, but it is used in the Truth in Lending Act. When the act was passed in 1968 there were no calculators with compounding, so the Nominal APR was chosen. It should be changed now to the mathematically-true, Effective (compounded) APR.