08/23/2010 - The sweeping reform of the credit card industry was finally completed Sunday as the last pieces of the landmark federal law designed to stop unfair or deceptive practices took effect.
The final phase restricts how much card issuers can charge in penalty fees compared with the amount of the violation. For example, if you are late paying a credit card bill with a $10 minimum payment, the penalty charge cannot be more than $10. In addition, new rules governing gift cards also took effect Sunday that require them to be honored for at least five years and allow only one fee per month.
A study by Pew Charitable Trusts released this summer showed that the largest card issuers have complied with the new regulations. Nick Bourke, who led the research, said that the changes have made credit cards safer to use.
"In the long run, I think what we're going to see is the market become more transparent and pricing become more predictable for consumers," he said.
Read the article Last Phase of Credit Card Reform Law in Place, Taking Aim at Penalty Fees, in it's entirety, on The Washington Post's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.