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Credit Card Glossary: Terms and Definitions

Confused by credit card terms?'s glossary of credit card definitions will help. From account holder to Regulation Z, we have defined the most-common and most-confusing credit card terms.

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Universal default

Universal default was the once-common practice among credit card issuers of increasing cardholders' interest rates on existing balances if the cardholder was late on any payment to anyone. The practice was ended by the federal Credit CARD Act of 2009, which limits rate increases. Issuers can still raise rates if you're late on a payment to someone else - or for any other reason - but only on new balances, and must give 45 days' notice and let you pay off your existing debt under the old terms.