8 major benefits of new credit card law
4. Restricts card issuance to studentsConsumers under age 21 who can't prove an independent means of income or provide the signature of a co-signer aged 21 or older won't get approved for credit cards. The provision protects young people who lack the means or the knowledge to handle credit cards from miring themselves into debt, but could backfire by pushing students to payday lenders and pawnshops, says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
According to a recent Sallie Mae study, college students carried an average balance of $3,173 on their credit cards last year, a record high since the first analysis in 1998. A whopping 82 percent revolved a balance each month.
5. Ends double-cycle billingThe new law bans double-cycle billing, the practice of basing finance charges on the current and previous balance. Under this method, the issuer could charge interest on debt already paid off the previous month.
6. Fairer payment allocationA close look at your card agreement will likely reveal a clause that explains that payments will be applied to lower-rate balances first. Not so anymore. The Credit CARD Act requires above-the-minimum payments to be applied first to the credit card balance with the highest interest rate.
7. More time to payCard companies must send statements 21 days before a payment is due. Current law requires a mere 14 days' notice. This provision goes into effect Aug. 20, 2009.
8. Gift card protectionsThe legislation includes protections for gift cardholders. The new law prohibits gift cards from expiring for at least five years. Issuer cannot assess inactivity fees unless the card has gone unused for 12 months.