Legal, Regulatory, and Privacy Issues

New rules considered for changes in credit card terms


Regulation Z amendments would require changes in credit card terms to be displayed in a table for easy reading.

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As with the account opening disclosures, there currently are few format requirements for change-in-terms disclosures. Thus consumers generally discover them in notices, amendments or pamphlets seemingly written by a legal whiz but undecipherable to average readers. That will end under the proposals.  If the change in terms is one that must be provided in a table in the account-opening summary, it must be provided in a table in any notice of a change in terms. Creditors can also give notice of change-in-terms on your periodic or monthly billing statements, but again, in a table.

45 days’ notice
Fixed rates
APR disclosures

Fee disclosures
Account opening disclosures
Periodic statement disclosures
Changes in credit card terms
Minimum payments
Subprime credit cards 

Says Ann McElligott and Bruce Braunstein of Portland, Ore.: “They changed the due date on our credit card. We did not realize this as we always paid online. As a result, we ‘paid late.’ ” Read more

Citigroup says it announced the end of “any time, any reason” changes in terms for Citi-branded consumer accounts in March 2007: “We are going the extra mile to protect our customers against surprise changes in the rates, fees and other terms of their credit card accounts. We hope others in the industry follow our example … ” Read more (Page 2)

Citigroup proposed the Fed prohibit changes in terms for at least one year after a new account is opened. “We believe that changes in terms in the early stages of the account cycle surprise the consumer unfairly … ” Read more (Page 14)

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