On February 22, 2010, nine months after President Obama signed the legislation, new credit card rules designed to protect consumers from the unscrupulous and manipulative tactics of credit card companies went into effect. The legislative momentum that led to the passage of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (Credit CARD) has been building for years, and was thrown into overdrive by the economic meltdown of 2008. Countless Americans who felt they had been duped by greedy mortgage brokers and cheated by reckless Wall Street fat cats were only too happy at the prospect of throwing the legislative book at the corporate moguls who profit from our nation’s dependency on credit cards.
And throw the book we did.
Designed to put an end to many of the predatory practices that cost consumers up to $15 billion in late fees and other penalties each year, the Credit CARD Act will free millions of credit card users from retroactive interest rate increases on existing card balances and will give them more time to pay their monthly bills, greater advance notice of changes in credit card terms, and the right to opt out of significant changes in terms on their accounts. Senator Chris Dodd, the author of the Credit CARD Act, celebrated the passage of the new law:
“Gone are the days of gouging hardworking families with ‘any time, any reason’ rate increases and unreasonable fees and penalties. With the signing of this bill, President Obama has ushered in a new era where consumer protections will be strong and reliable, rules transparent and fair, and statements clear and informative . . . Today is the day we finally make credit card companies accountable to their customers and responsible for their actions.”