Consumer Payment Card News

Card Reform Express

The credit card industry is sweating bullets after the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation that would push up the date of credit card reforms scheduled for 2010. The American Bankers Association says credit card issuers cannot turn on a dime and speeding up the “CARD Act” will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for card issuers to meet. By a vote of 331-92 the H.R. 3639, the “Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009” was passed. The Senate has also taken up a similar measure but it appears, at this point, unlikely to pass. The “Credit CARD Act” had three staged implementation dates: August 2009, February, 2010, and August, 2010. “H.R. 3639” moves up the remaining dates, to be effective immediately upon the signing of the bill, by which banks and credit card issuers would have to comply and applies to the largest card issuers that control over 80% of the credit card market. The House also approved an amendment, offered by Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Betsy Markey (D-CO), permitting card issuers that adopt a moratorium on interest rate increases on current balances and new balances incurred before Feb. 22 to be exempt from the earlier effective date for a provision that requires an issuer to apply customer payments to the highest rate balance. The bill exempts small credit card issuers and gift card providers. However, both would have to comply with the later deadlines previously laid out in the “Credit CARD Act.” The ABA says this will create significant confusion for consumers and will further restrict access to credit for both consumers and small businesses, all to the detriment of the broader economy.

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