Credit-card reform takes effect
The final batch of regulations in last year's federal credit-card overhaul took effect this week. As the reforms take hold, some in the industry warn about negative consequences while supporters herald protections in the law.
A handful of regulations in the legislation govern credit cards among young people and college students.
"College students will no longer get a card just because they're breathing, which was the old test," said Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer-protection expert with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, the ways banks solicit on college campuses has been restricted; recruiters can't give away food in exchange for credit-card applications, for instance. And marketing agreements between credit-card companies and colleges must be disclosed to the public, a reform Mierzwinski said stems from the University of Iowa's and University of Northern Iowa's move to deny state officials access to credit-card contracts a few years ago.
Politicians have touted the CARD Act as hugely beneficial to consumers. Iowa's Congressional delegation overwhelmingly supported the legislation last year, with U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, as the lone dissenter. In a release this week, President Obama said: "This law will also make the terms of credit cards more understandable and puts a stop to hidden over-the-limit fees and other practices designed to trap consumers."
However, lenders' ability to impose high fees and rates on risky accounts has largely been curtailed, a move big banks say could hurt consumers.
"People with good credit may have to pay more in order to enjoy the convenience and flexibility of credit. And if your credit history is poor, you may find it much harder to get credit," Bank of America officials said in a statement.
But at least one local institution hasn't seen those dramatic affects.
"A lot of it is going after fees that larger banks were charging, and since we weren't really doing any of those things, it doesn't have a profound impact on our income," said Jim Kelly, the senior vice president for marketing at the UI Community Credit Union.
And despite measures in the law requiring most consumers under age 21 to have a cosigner, Kelly said approvals for the credit union's student-focused card — which carries a relatively low fixed-rate and a low credit line — are up 60 percent in the past year.
UI senior Sean Patchett said he's aware of the credit-card issues the law aims to solve. He has friends who had to get extra jobs in order to pay down debt.
"I don't like to spend money I don't have, so my card just sits in my wallet for emergencies," Patchett said.
comments powered by Disqus