Earlier this year, the Credit CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law. While many of the “cardholders’ bill of rights” provisions in the law do not take effect until February 2010, there are two that actually take effect later this week:
- Credit card statements must be mailed 21 days before the bill is due (instead of the current 14 days).
- APR changes must be given to the customer 45 days in advance.
As you might guess, a rash of increased credit card fees and rising interest rates has been seen as issuers scramble to make sure they can get what they can.
The rest of the changes (including an end to universal default and double billing, as well as provisions to pay balances with the highest rates first) will have to wait. Unless you are with some of the credit card issuers that are adopting the new rules early — or have had them in place for years. BillShrink offers a rather helpful illustration of which credit card issuers are doing what with regard to the cardholders’ bill of rights:
While most credit card issuers are unlikely to start applying payments to the highest rate balances until they absolutely have to, it is possible for you to find credit cards without universal default and double billing. For those who are working on a credit card debt reduction plan, these burdens can be quite difficult to bear; having them removed should be helpful.
For those who do not carry balances on their credit cards, this legislation will have very little effect. After all, if you pay off your credit card every month, none of these are issues that really affect you. But it is nice to have a credit card that does keep its interest rates low and doesn’t engage in questionable billing practices. After all, you never know when your situation might change and you may need to carry a balance.