The credit card industry has known about the February 22nd deadline for implementation of the Credit CARD Act's new lending rules since the law was signed last May. This week, the Federal Reserve issued the formal regulations required by Congress, setting new ground rules for card issuers. By amending Regulation Z, the document that regulates American lenders, the Federal Reserve's governors:
- require lenders to issue notices of account changes at lease 45 days in advance,
- force lenders to include alternative payment options in monthly statements, and
- restrict the size and types of fees imposed on credit card users.
The Federal Reserve Board also launched a new online guide to help explain credit card rules to consumers. "What You Need to Know" introduces American cardholders to insider terms, like:
- "Go-To Rate," the interest rate charged at the end of a special financing promotion.
- "Workout agreement," the plan used to help borrowers restore their accounts after default.
- "Double-cycle billing," the now-banned practice of applying finance charges across multiple billing periods.
Consumers can access "What You Need to Know" on the Federal Reserve Board's public information website.