The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, & Disclosure Act of 2009

On May 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Credit Card Responsibility & Disclosure Act of 2009 into law. The bill was designed to serve as a proverbial "Bill of Rights" for anyone who applies for and accepts a line of credit from any credit card company or lender.

The new law outlines a number of changes to existing credit card laws. The bill is designed to protect consumers from unfair credit adjustment practices but at the same time offers protection for lenders as well. Some of the changes implemented by the law are outlined below:

Unfair Interest Modifications One of the biggest problems consumers had with credit card companies was their ability to arbitrarily adjust the interest rates on an account with very little and sometimes no notice. Under the new law, credit card companies are prohibited from increasing an individual's interest rates at all during the first year after opening the account. Many card holders offered special deals with introductory terms expiring after a month or two. Under the new law, credit card companies must leave their introductory rates in effect for at least six months. Card issuers must give you 45 days notice before they can increase the fees or interest rates associated with your account.

Limiting and Control of Fees The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility & Disclosure Act of 2009 prohibits lenders for charging excessive fees to account holders. They are not prohibited from charging fees on certain types of specifically outlined electronic and digital payments and are no longer allowed to charge over-limit fees if the account goes over the limit due to a transaction that is under dispute. Creditors are no longer allowed to charge fees that are higher than a borrower's offense warrants and those issuing high interest cards with low credit limits must also lower the fees they charge.

Payment Requirements When you mail a credit card payment it can end up in the credit company's bank lockbox for days before it is posted to your account. This means that even if you sent your payment on time it may look late by the time it appears on your account. Under the new laws your payment must be posted as early as possible, credit companies cannot issue early morning payment deadlines, and any payment over the minimum has to be applied to the portion of your balance with the highest interest. Card issues are now required to mail your bills 21 days before the due date and may not charge late fees if they mail your bill late.

Protecting Youthful Card Holders The new laws also took youthful card holders into consideration. Anyone under the age of 21 who applies for a credit card must have a parent or guardian act as a cosigner. There are also new laws limiting when and how credit card companies can market themselves on college campuses. The new credit laws were designed to protect you as a consumer but if you already have excessive amounts of credit debt you'll find little relief from these changes. If this is the case you should contact a bankruptcy attorney at your earliest convenience to discuss the possibility of bankruptcy or some other type of legal assistance.