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Credit Card Act of 2009

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit Card Act) was enacted in May 2009 to prevent unfair credit practices and improve the disclosures consumers receive in connection with credit card accounts.  Here are a few of new rules and key changes you should expect from your credit card company beginning on February 22, 2010. 

Interest Rates and Fees

  • Your credit card company must tell you when they plan to increase your interest rate and fees. There are circumstances where this may not apply, such as if you have a variable rate that is tied to an index or if your introductory rate expires and reverts to the previously disclosed "go-to" rate. 
  • Your credit card company must tell you how long it will take to pay off your balance if you only make minimum payments. 
  • Your credit card company cannot increase your rate for the first 12 months after you open an account, and the increased rates apply only to new charges. There are exceptions to this rule, such as a variable rate tied to an index or expiration of an introductory rate.
  • Credit card fees (such as an annual fee or application fee) cannot total more than 25% of the initial credit limit. This limit does not apply to penalty fees, such as penalties for late payments.


  • Your credit card company must mail or deliver your credit card bill at least 21 days before your payment is due. Your due date should be the same date each month unless the due date falls on a weekend or holiday; you will have until the following business day to pay. 
  • If you make more than the minimum payment on your credit card bill, your credit card company must apply the excess amount to the balance with the highest interest rate. There is an exception if you made a purchase under a deferred interest plan (for example, "no interest if paid in full by March, 2012"), the credit card company may let you choose to apply extra amounts to the deferred interest balance before other balances.
  • Credit card companies can only impose interest charges on balances in the current billing cycle.

Other Changes

  • If you are under 21, you will need to show that you are able to make payments, or you will need a cosigner, in order to open a credit card account.
  • You must tell your credit card company that you want it to allow transactions that will take you over your credit limit.  If you do not opt-in to over-the-limit transactions and your credit card company allows one to go through, it cannot charge you an over-the-limit fee.