Changing the Face of Credit in America: The New Credit Card Law and What it Means for You |

Expect to see some changes in the way your credit card statement looks this month. New federal credit card rules took effect last Monday that will require credit card companies to list how long it would take for you to pay off your balance making the minimum payment and provide a tally as to what the full amount paid would be.

The new credit card laws were passed by Congress in May and are an effort to level the playing field between consumers and credit card companies.

New credit card rules dictate:

Rising interest rates cannot be applied to existing balances.

Interest rates on fixed-rate credit cards cannot increase during the first year the account is open unless the consumer is over 60 days late in payment.

Banks can no longer automatically sign their patrons up to overdraft protection accounts, a practice that allows consumers to exceed the funds available in their bank account for a fee, and, typically, significant interest.

Credit card fees, such as the annual fee, cannot exceed 25 percent of the card’s initial limit, set at time of account creation.

People younger than 21 years old must be able to demonstrate a sound ability to pay or have a co-signer to be eligible to open a credit card account.

Monthly credit card statements must provide information on how long it will take to satisfy the balance if only the minimum payment was made and what the actual amount paid would be.

Any payment made over the minimum required must be applied to the balance with the highest interest rate.

Credit card payments must have the same due date each month and the payment cannot be said to be late unless it is received after 5pm that business day. If the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date is pushed to the next business day.

In 2009, Americans paid over $15 billion in credit card fees alone, a fact the new credit card regulation seeks to change. These regulations are a follow-up to the provisions that took effect in August last year.