This has promise. Apparently, the Credit Card Act of 2007 will ban some of the less consumer friendly practices of credit card companies.
Here are some of the provisions and what I think they mean:
SEC. 101. PRIOR NOTICE OF RATE INCREASES REQUIRED
Not only do they have to give you advance warning that your rate will increase, but they can only apply the increase to balances that you add after
the date of the increase. That means the new rate doesn't apply to your old debt.
Well duh. I can't believe they get away with this now.
SEC. 102. FREEZE ON INTEREST RATE TERMS AND FEES ON CANCELED CARDS
If the terms, fees, or interest rate is going to change, you can cancel the card and keep the rates and terms from before the change. In other words, you can't be forced into new terms just because you have an outstanding balance.
My friend called me last night (literally) to ask me about this very question. I guess if there's a law in the works to "fix" this, then it's definitely broken now. I told him his only chance was to transfer the balance to a new card and I guess I was right (for now).
SEC. 103. LIMITS ON CHARGES OR FEES FOR TIMELY PAYMENTS OR NON-USE
You can't be charged a fee for paying more than the minimum balance. You can't be charged for paying the card off. You can't be charged for not using the card.
Holy Guano Batman! There are companies that do this?
SEC. 104. PROHIBITION ON OVER-THE-LIMIT FEES FOR CREDITOR-APPROVED TRANSACTIONS
You can't be charged a fee for going over your limit when it was a transaction the credit card company approved.
Because they approved you after all.
SEC. 105. PROHIBITION ON UNIVERSAL DEFAULTS
This limits the ability of the credit company to raise you rates based on your credit score.
This doesn't actually prevent it entirely, but it requires that if they do, they have to make it extremely clear in the agreement before you get the credit.
SEC. 201. PAYOFF TIMING DISCLOSURES
SEC. 202. REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO LATE PAYMENT DEADLINES AND PENALTIES
These both have to do with being clear about the timing of your payoff balance and fees. This happened to me where I paid a card off completely only to find they charged the interest just before the payment hit thus leaving me a tiny balance to discover later. Bastids.
SEC. 301. EXTENSIONS OF CREDIT TO UNDERAGE CONSUMERS
You can't give credit to minors unless there's parental permission, the minor shows the means to pay the debt themselves, and they have a certification of having attended a consumer credit counseling session PRIOR to taking the debt.
This one's a bit of a rub. Minors can already walk away from any debt because you can't enter into a contract with anyone under 18 anyway. I'm not certain that this changes anything other than for minors who don't realize thay can tell the credit company to shove off if that company is stupid enough to give them credit in the first place.
That's most of the really important stuff anyway. The Consumerist has a link to an online form that will help you tell your congressmembers to support this so be sure to head over there for it.