What’s the Credit CARD Act of 2009?


Until this law went into place, the average consumer was fed up with the way credit card companies were treating them.

Inconsistent fee increases and vague rules were meaning we were left footing the bills and the credit card agencies were just racking in the dough.

After many complaints to both regulators and legislators, lawmakers finally decided to take action and clean up some of the credit issues that many Americans were facing.

Passed by the United States Congress and signed by President Obama in May of 2009, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (aka the Credit CARD Act of 2009) is meant to bring fairness and transparency to the customers of credit card agencies.

For this reason, the act is also sometimes referred to as the Credit Cardholder Bill of Rights.

What Exactly Does the Credit CARD Act of 2009 Do for Me?

More than 80% of Americans have at least one credit card and more than 44% carry a card with a continuous balance. And with more than $15 billion in penalty fees racking up every year, this reform affects every credit cardholder.

U.S. cardholders became tired of all the obscure language rules and unexpected and unplanned rate changes.

This consumer protection law stops hidden fees and unfair rate hikes and clear up a lot of confusion that surrounds the credit card payment process.

The new law gives consumers something that they should have had from the beginning; transparency and accountability from the credit card companies.

What Has Changed Since This Went Live?

Here are some changes made that have improved disclosures given and put an ending to many practices that consumers have seen as unfair.

Increased Transparency

The Credit Card Act of 2009 does the following:

  • Restricts retroactive rate increases: No longer are credit card companies able to increase rates on existing balances, except in the instance that a promotion given has expired.
  • Bans unfair fee traps: Any interest rate hikes are given with much notice now and late fees are now better defined and standardize to avoid any confusion.
  • Requires opt-ins to over-limit fees: Prior to the CARD act, consumers were able to charge past their predetermined limit. This causes an over-limit fee. Now consumers are unable to pass their limit, unless they have previously opted in to the ability to do so.
  • Puts plain language in plain site: Information concerning charges, incurring interest and balances have become much more clear to the consumer. Obscure contract language and terms have been cut down and replaced with “plain English”.

Increased Accountability

The CC Act of 2009 also:

  • Requires public posting of contracts: At one time, contracts were only accessible in hard copy. This requires that credit card companies post contracts and all updated versions online for consumer advocates and regulators to both monitor and keep these companies accountable.
  • Makes regulators accountable: Credit card regulators are now required to monitor and report back to Congress annually on their findings. They will be following credit trends and any public issues that arise within the industry. If needed, these regulators will make any necessary updates or changes to the rules.
  • Increases penalties for the cc companies: The new rules enacted will result in much higher penalties in the event that the credit card companies violate the reforms.

These updates to the standards that credit card companies must now live by and much more are meant to protect the everyday consumer.

If you feel as if a credit card company has violated this act and has tarnished your credit, get a free case review today.

You can also read the full law here on the GPO.gov site.