Credit Cardholder Bill of Rights Approved by Congress, Sent to President

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to impose tough new restrictions on the credit card industry, which had spent years successfully avoiding regulations. Senate approves tougher credit card rules in 90-5 vote

The bill bars firms from hiking interest rates on cardholders unless they are 60 days late in payment, bans “double-cycle billing” and seeks better notification for consumers. The bill goes a step further than rules the Federal Reserve issued in December, but that won't take effect until July 2010. The Senate bill would take effect nine months after it is signed into law.

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Five senators voted against the bill, including Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bob Bennett (Utah), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and John Thune (S.D.). Sen. Tim Johnson (S.D.) was the lone Democrat in opposition; South Dakota has significant banking and credit card interests.

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Four senators did not cast votes: Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

The House of Representatives on Wednesday gave final approval to the bill that would prohibit credit card companies from arbritarily raising interest rates on existing balances and charging certain fees. House Passes Credit Card Bill, Sending It to President

With a 361-64 vote, the House ensured that President Obama will be able to sign the bill into law by Memorial Day, as he requested.

[Arizona's congressional delegation voted along party lines.]

The House had approved a more diluted credit card reform bill last month but chose to send the stonger Senate version to the president instead. The Senate overwhelmingly passed its bill, written by Banking Committee Chairman Christoper J. Dodd (D-Conn.), yesterday.

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Outraged consumers have complained of mistreatment from the same companies that have been receiving federal bailout money.

The bill would also restrict the ability of college students to get credit cards and require card companies to make contracts easier to understand and available online.

It would also codify changes already made by the Federal Reserve. In December, the Fed banned certain unfair and deceptive practices. But those do not go into effect until July 2010.

The legislation passed today, which goes further than the Fed's new rules, would become effective nine months after signing.

A White House official said Obama will sign the bill at a ceremony scheduled for 1500 EDT on Friday.

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