New Credit Card Contract Rules — April 2010, reviewed January 2013

Have you noticed changes in your credit card plans?  On February 22, 2010 new regulations took affect which consumers should be aware of.

There were major changes in the amount of prior notice a credit card company must give a customer before increasing the interest rate, other account fees or other significant changes to terms of a card.  This notice must be at least 45 days prior.  If you receive an envelope in the mail that looks like it may be ‘just another solicitation’ or ‘junk mail’ you should at least open it before recycling the paper — it may be a change notice!

A billing statement now has to include information on how long it will take to pay off the balance if you only make minimum payments without anymore charges on the card.  This should be a big eye opener!  They also need to tell you how much you would need to pay each month in order to pay off the balance in three years.

The changes provide protection for underage consumers.  If you are under 21, you won’t be able to open an account unless you can show an income for making payments or have a co-signer.  Other new protections relate to standard payment dates and time, payments directed to highest interest balances first and elimination of two-cycle billing.

You can learn more about the new credit card rules by visiting the Federal Reserve Board website at www.federalreserve.gov.  Find out what the new protections mean for you.

(Specific website link: http://www.federalreserve.gov/creditcard/default.htm)