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10 wordiest credit card agreements

Of all the contracts from major issuers, these droned on the longest

By CreditCards.com

If brevity is the soul of wit, these are 10 witless credit card contracts.

A CreditCards.com analysis of the credit card agreements in a new Federal Reserve database measured the documents for readability -- and length. These were the 10 longest. The average card agreement was 3,771 words.

The champion for verbosity is Fifth Third Bancorp, which had three agreements in the top 10. The biggest weighs in at nearly 21,000 words and requires a reading level of someone who's been to college a few years.Close behind in second place is the agreement from Commerce Bank, which also topped 20,000 words, but was at a ninth-grade reading level, which experts say is desirable if you want most people to understand what they're reading.

Even a readable document becomes less friendly at such bulk. The average person can read about 250 words a minute, which means a 20,000-word document would require an hour and 20 minutes to digest.

10 WORDIEST CREDIT CARD AGREEMENTS
Rank Contract issuer
Number of words
Reading level (years)
1. Fifth Third Bancorp 20,799 14.5
2. Commerce Bank, NA 20,463 9.5
3. Zions Bank 18,346 15.7
4. Bellco Credit Union 16,724 15.4
5. Amegy Bank of Texas 16,164 15.8
6. 1st Financial Bank USA 15,108 15.8
7. IBM Southeast Employees' Federal Credit Union 14,667 15.7
8. Fifth Third Bancorp 14,419 15
9. Fifth Third Bancorp 12,9741 14.7
10. GE Money Bank 11,411
14.9
Source: CreditCards.com analysis of the credit card agreements contained in a database maintained by the Federal Reserve. Under the Credit CARD Act of 2009, all U.S. credit card issuers with more than 10,000 credit card accounts must submit their agreements to the Fed every three months. Banks can appear more than once because they can issue more than one type of credit card.

See related: MAIN STORY: Credit card agreements unreadable to 4 of 5 Americans, 10 most unreadable credit card agreements, 10 most readable credit card agreements, Readability of credit card agreements from biggest 20 banksHow credit card agreements' readability compares to familiar documents, Quotable: What lawmakers, consumer activists, bankers say, 3 language experts try to make sense of a card agreement, Federal database of credit card agreements not user friendly, Video: Consumers try in vain to understand credit card agreements

Published: July 22, 2010


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