Credit card reform bill headed to Obama's desk


In order to push the Credit Card Act quickly onto President Obama's desk, the House of Representatives passed the Senate's version of the credit card reform bill yesterday with 361 representatives voting for the bill and 64 voting against it. If the House hadn't accepted the Senate's version of the bill, passage would have been delayed until the two houses worked out their differences.

A spokesman for President Obama said he would sign the bill on Friday, but don't expect to see the changes any time soon. Congress gave the banks nine months to make the changes. Banks must make all the changes by February 2010.

Here are the key features of The Credit Card Act and what it will mean to you:

* Credit card companies will find it much more difficult to change rates, which is a dramatic shift from the existing environment where issuers can raise rates "at any time, for any reason."

* Credit card companies cannot increase your interest rate during an account's first year. After that first year, a credit card issuer can increase the interest rate if you are 60 days late in making a payment. If they do increase the rate, the new legislation requires them to review your account every six months and lower the rate if the situation warrants it. You will regain your older, lower interest rate if you pay your bills on time.

Originally published