Credit card agreement: Find yours online
Law now requires credit card issuers to post their agreements
Beginning Feb. 22, 2010, credit card companies were required under the Credit CARD Act of 2009 to make copies of all credit card agreements available to the public, and the major card issuers have begun doing so on their websites (see credit card agreement chart).
What is a card member agreement? It is a contract that spells out the terms and conditions of using a credit card, and penalties that may apply if you miss payments or violate other terms of the agreement. Credit card companies mail these agreements to customers when they first issue the credit card with instructions to keep the document in case they must refer to it at some point.
It hasn't been a perfect system. Many people throw the agreements out or forget where they put them. When there are changes in terms, credit card issuers send notices that only include the new terms -- rather than sending the entire credit card agreement.
The new credit card reform law allows consumers to access the full agreements even if they aren't current account holders -- something that was not possible before the CARD Act.
"Any cardholder will be able to access a copy of his or her own credit card agreement," according to the Federal Reserve Board's guidelines. In addition to posting the credit card agreements on their own websites, credit card issuers must also submit agreements to the Fed, which also posts the documents at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/creditcardagreements/.
The credit card agreement posting requirements apply to any credit card company with more than 10,000 credit card accounts. Issuers of private label credit cards (such as those issued by retail stores and merchants) are exempt from the requirement to post their credit card agreements on their websites. But these issuers must make the agreements available to customers who request them.
According to the Fed: "The Board continues to believe that, to enable consumers to shop for credit cards and compare information about various credit card plans in an effective manner, it is necessary that the credit card agreements posted on the Board's website include rates, fees and other pricing information."
Some credit card issuers have posted agreements that include a range of interest rates. If you are a current account holder and want a copy of your specific agreement, you can request one on the issuer's site or call the toll-free customer service number listed on the back of your credit card.
The larger credit card issuers offer a wide variety of credit cards. In trying to find the credit card agreement for your particular account, you may have to search through the list for the type of card you have (for example, a gas card or rewards card) and then the specific card.
Here are links to the major credit card issuers' cardholder agreement websites:
See related: Credit card reform arrives in the form of the Credit CARD Act, A guide to the Credit CARD Act of 2009
Updated: May 25, 2010