For an updated version of this story go to: An interactive look at your monthly credit card statement
Your monthly credit card bill has gotten a makeover — thanks to lawmakers and federal banking regulators.
Whether you get your credit card statements in the mail or online, the documents have taken on a new look since Feb. 22, 2010. That’s when new design and disclosure requirements mandated by the Credit CARD Act of 2009 took effect.
A new look
The new statements are designed to be more reader-friendly and help credit cardholders easily find important information on their monthly statements — namely, when payments are due, the amount owed, the consequences of making late payments and how much they are paying in fees and interest on different types of accounts.
Another new feature warns consumers about the cost of making only minimum payments each month. Each credit card bill must now have a box that states how long (in months or years) it will take to pay off the entire balance if the cardholder makes the minimum payment compared to how long it might take to pay it off when making higher payments. The box also states the total dollar amount cardholders would pay when both interest and principal is factored in. The results can be eye-opening for some borrowers.
Credit card issuers are also now required to include a toll-free telephone number on every monthly statement directing cardholders to accredited nonprofit credit counseling agencies if they should need help digging out of debt.
The previous standard for credit card disclosure was the so-called Schumer box, which required key terms to be listed in a table and included in credit card offers, applications and monthly statements. The new standard is like the Schumer box on steroids, with much more details about terms and what they mean — and more tables.
More changes coming
The monthly statement makeover is part of a much larger series of credit card regulation reforms approved by the Federal Reserve Board in December 2008. In addition to the CARD Act requirements, the Fed has a new set of disclosure rules for monthly statements as well as credit card applications, solicitations and advertising. Those take effect beginning July 1, 2010, and are part of Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act.
The Fed conducted consumer tests of credit card statements to determine what worked best when providing key information. Users complained that wording on the old statements was confusing, the type too small and key information missing. Testers said they liked information presented in boxes that they could clearly read.
Capital One also conducted consumer tests before redesigning it’s statements.
“We wanted to maintain some consistency with statement usability to ensure our customers didn’t get lost in the new statement,” according to Pam Girardo, a spokeswoman for Capital One. “We showed a variety of statement designs to understand what resonated and what didn’t and to make sure consumers understood the information.”
Here’s an explanation of some of the features of the new statements, based on the Federal Reserve Board’s samples. Your new statement won’t look exactly like this; each credit card issuer will design its own.
Place your mouse over any red circled question mark to get more explanation.
Account Number XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX
February 21, 2012 to March 22, 2012
|Summary of account activity|
Past due amount
Minimum payment due
Payment due date
|Late payment warning: If we do not receive your minimum payment by the date listed above, you may have to pay a late fee of up to XX and your APRs may be increased up to the Penalty APR of 28.99%. |
Minimum payment warning: If you make only the minimum payment each period, you will pay more in interest and it will take you longer to pay off your balance. For example, if you had a balance of $1,000 at an interest rate of 17% and always paid only the minimum required, it would take over 7 years to repay this balance. If you would like information about credit counseling services, call 1-800-XXX-XXXX.
|QUESTIONS?||Please send billing inquiries to:|
|Call customer service|
|PO Box XXXX, Anytown, Anystate XXXXX|
|Lost or stolen credit card|
|Important changes to your account terms|
|The following is a summary of changes that are being made to your account terms. Changes to the APRs described below are due to changes in market conditions. For more detailed information, please refer to the booklet enclosed with this statement.|
These changes will impact your account as follows:
Transactions made on or after 4/9/12: As of 5/10/12, changes to APRs described below will apply to these transactions.
Transactions made before 4/9/12: Current APRs will continue to apply to these transactions.
If you are already being charged a higher Penalty APR for purchases: In this case, any changes to APRs described below will not go into effect at this time. These changes will go into effect when the Penalty APR no longer applies to your account.
|APR for purchases||16.99%|
|Late payment fee||$32 if your balance is less than or equal to $1,000;|
$39 if your balance is more than $1,000
|Reference number||Trans date||Post date||Description of transaction or credit|
Cash advance fee
Balance transfer fee
Cash advance fee
|Interest on purchases|
Interest on cash advances
|Total fees charged in 2012|
Total interest charged in 2012
|Your Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the annual interest rate on your account|
|Type of balance||Annual Percentage Rate (APR)||Balance Subject to|
(v) = Variable rate
Please detach this portion and return with your payment to insure credit. Retain upper portion for your records.
Please indicate address change and additional
Minimum payment due
Payment due date
|XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX|
Source: Federal Reserve Board