Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Financial Literacy Update: New Credit Card Rules Starting in February 2010

In the summer of 2009, Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, which puts new rules in place to benefit the consumer.

Some of the highlights of the Act include:

Bans Unfair Rate Increases: Financial institutions will no longer raise rates unfairly, and consumers will have confidence that the interest rates on their existing balances will not be hiked.

Bans Retroactive Rate Increases: Bans rate increases on existing balances due to "any time, any reason" or "universal default" and severely restricts retroactive rate increases due to late payment.

 First Year Protection: Contract terms must be clearly spelled out and stable for the entirety of the first year. Firms may continue to offer promotional rates with new accounts or during the life of an account, but these rates must be clearly disclosed and last at least 6 months.

 Bans Unfair Fee Traps:
  • Ends Late Fee Traps: Institutions will have to give card holders a reasonable time to pay the monthly bill – at least 21 calendar days from time of mailing. The act also ends late fee traps such as weekend deadlines, due dates that change each month, and deadlines that fall in the middle of the day.
  • Enforces Fair Interest Calculation: Credit card companies will be required to apply excess payments to the highest interest balance first, as consumers expect them to do. The act also ends the confusing and unfair practice by which issuers use the balance in a previous month to calculate interest charges on the current month, so called "double-cycle" billing.
  • Requires Opt-In to Over-Limit Fees: Consumers will find it easier to avoid over-limit fees because institutions will have to obtain a consumer’s permission to process transactions that would place the account over the limit.
  • Restrains Unfair Sub-Prime Fees: Fees on subprime, low-limit credit cards will be substantially restricted.
  • Limits Fees on Gift and Stored Value Cards: The act enhances disclosure on fees for gift and stored value cards and restricts inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months. All gift cards must have at least a five-year life.
Plain Sight /Plain Language Disclosures: Credit card contract terms will be disclosed in language that consumers can see and understand so they can avoid unnecessary costs and manage their finances.
  • Plain Language in Plain Sight: Creditors will give consumers clear disclosures of account terms before consumers open an account, and clear statements of the activity on consumers’ accounts afterwards. For example, pre-opening disclosures will highlight fees consumers may be charged and periodic statements will conspicuously display fees they have paid in the current month and the year to date as well as the reasons for those fees. These disclosures will help consumers make informed choices about using the right financial products and managing their own financial needs. Model disclosures will be updated regularly based on reviews of the market, empirical research, and testing with consumers to ensure that disclosures remain clear, useful, and relevant.
  • Real Information about the Financial Consequences of Decisions: Issuers will be required to show the consequences to consumers of their credit decisions.
               *Issuers will need to display on periodic statements how long it would take to pay off the existing
                 balance – and the total interest cost – if the consumer paid only the minimum due.
               *Issuers will also have to display the payment amount and total interest cost to pay off the existing
                 balance in 36 months.

 Cleans Up Credit Card Practices For Young People at Universities. The act contains new protections for college students and young adults, including a requirement that card issuers and universities disclose agreements with respect to the marketing or distribution of credit cards to students.Stay ConnectedFacebook Twitter Flickr MySpaceYouTube Vimeo iTunes LinkedIn Latest News and Updates

Another aspect of this law is that it promotes FINANCIAL LITERACY. It requires a comprehensive summary of existing financial literacy programs and development of a strategic plan to improve financial literacy education. This is exactly where the CareerTech Testing Center (CTTC) and CIMC can help you.

The CTTC has developed skills standards and a test that address these requirements and CIMC (Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center) now offers "Life Skills: Financial Literacy Skills."

Please contact us and let us know how we can assist you in all of your Financial Literacy training needs! (Thanks LL for the idea for the post!) 

1 comment:

  1. credit card holders should know their rights as consumers. If they can feel that there's an unjustifiable fees, they should consult the company and monitor their accounts. But the most important thing here is you have to be responsible enough in paying your bills with the banks to avoid extra charges.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...