Still Waiting: ‘Unfair or Deceptive’ Credit Card Practices Continue as Americans Wait for New Reforms to Take Effect

Oct 28, 2009

This report present the findings of the latest review of consumer credit card product by the Pew Health Group’s Safe Credit Cards Project. We show the interest rates, fees and penalty provisions for credit cards offered by the largest 12 bank issuers based on application disclosures gathered in July of 2009. Where possible, we show how these features have changed since our December 2008 survey or where new trends may be emerging. Also, for the first time, we include an analysis of cards from the largest 12 credit unions. Throughout the report, we provide comparisons between bank card and credit union card data.

Although credit unions control only a small portion of credit card outstandings, comparisons between credit union and bank product models illustrate options available to consumers and potential benchmarks for future regulatory rulemaking efforts. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for policy makers and issuers based on our research, our analysis of the Credit CARD Act and our Safe Credit CARD Standards.

In sum, this report presents Pew’s findings about the state of the credit card market on the eve of significant new federal regulations designed to eliminate unfair or deceptive practices and foster safer and more transparent products. How well these goals are realized depends on the decisions that both card issuers and regulators make during the coming months.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.

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