Countdown to the CARD ACT: Clock to Speed Up?

By | September 29, 2009

Since the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 was signed earlier this year by President Obama, credit card issuers appear to have focused on squeezing every last dime from consumers before the changes take effect. According to research from the Pew Charitable Trust, credit card interest rates have spiked by an average of 20% on 91% of credit cards with outstanding balances.

While the CARD Act strengthened reforms already considered by the Federal Reserve under Regulation Z, and accelerated the time for adoption, some in Washington feel that it did not accelerate the timeline enough. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) who authored the credit card reform bill, and Barney Frank (D-MA), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, have introduced H.R. 3639, the ‘‘Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009.”  The current legislation calls for some provisions to become effective in February 2010 and others in August 2010. This new legislation would  accelerate the effective date for all of the CARD Act reforms to December 1, 2009. 

 “It’s clear that credit card companies are taking advantage of this period between the signing of my bill and the current effective date,” Rep. Maloney said. “The breadth and depth of the rate hikes happening now point to the need for faster consumer protections. Americans need relief now.” You can read the full text of H.R. 3639 here.

Some industry experts have asserted that advancing the compliance deadlines would be nearly impossible for credit card companies to comply with, given the sweeping changes in systems and products referenced in my previous post Countdown to the CARD Act – Part 2. Others argue that if companies can manage the necessary system changes and mailings to facilitate rate hikes to over 90% of the “card carrying public” in a few months, they can facilitate the changes necessary to change rates less frequently as would be mandated by the CARD Act. 

What do you think?

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