The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights: Balanced Reform

Feb 6, 2008
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today introduced the “Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008” (H.R. 5244), comprehensive credit card reform legislation aimed at leveling the playing field between credit card companies and consumers.  The balanced bill abolishes major industry abuses that unfairly hurt consumers while fostering fair competition and free market values.

“A credit card agreement is supposed to be a contract, but in recent years cardholders have lost the ability to say no to unfair interest rate hikes and fees.  This balanced, moderate bill simply levels the playing field between card companies and cardholders while fostering fair competition and free market values.  It sets no rate caps, fees, or price controls, nor does it dictate any business models to card companies,” said Rep. Maloney. 

“There is no doubt that credit card companies provide a valuable service and deserve to earn a fair profit, but consumers deserve the right to be able to understand their accounts and be empowered to control them.  Regrettably, regulators and prior Congresses have dropped the ball on protecting consumers in recent years.  My bill would give cardholders the information and rights they deserve to make decisions about their own credit,” Maloney continued.        

The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights:

-Protects cardholders against arbitrary interest rate increases
-Prevents cardholders who pay on time from being unfairly penalized 
-Protects cardholders from due date gimmicks
-Shields cardholders from misleading terms 
-Empowers cardholders to set limits on their credit
-Requires card companies to fairly credit and allocate payments 
-Prohibits card companies from imposing excessive fees on cardholders
-Prevents card companies from giving subprime credit cards to people who can’t afford them
-Requires Congress to provide better oversight of the credit card industry
-Contains NO rate caps, fee setting, or price controls

For a one-page summary of the bill’s main provisions, click here.

To read the entire bill, click here.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA), Luis Guttierrez (D-IL), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Hilda Solis (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Albert Wynn (D-MD), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), Gene Taylor (D-MS), David Obey (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Nancy Boyda (D-KS), John Dingell (D-MI), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Yvette Clark (D-NY), Jesse Jackson (D-IL), Danny Davis (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Diane Watson (D-CA), Michael Arcuri (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), John Tierney (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), George Miller (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) are original co-sponsors of the bill.

Background:

Congresswoman Maloney held a number of congressional hearings and meetings last year to determine how Congress, federal regulators, and credit card companies could work together to help improve services and protections for card holders.  In August, she released a set of common sense principles, or “Gold Standard Principles,” aimed at guiding the shape and scope of “The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights” as well as industry self-regulation.  Her final bill is the careful, deliberative product of more than a year’s worth of study and analysis. 

###