A credit card is a form of borrowing that often involves charges. Credit terms and conditions affect your overall cost. So it's wise to compare terms and fees before agreeing to open a credit or charge card account. Shopping around for a credit card can save you money on interest and fees. You’ll want to find one with features that match your needs.
Credit card issuers have wide latitude in what they can charge for interest, but they must inform the customer of the interest rate. Therefore, it is important to "read the fine print" in both the original credit card agreement and in any supplemental notices. Federal law allows interest rate increases on existing balances under certain conditions, such as when a promotional rate ends, there is a variable rate, or if the cardholder makes a late payment. Interest rates on new transactions can increase only after the first year.
I have a problem or complaint involving my credit card:
If you have a problem involving your credit card, first try to resolve it directly with the store or the credit card company / financial institution. If that doesn’t work, you may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is currently accepting complaints regarding credit card issues and will take those complaints either by telephone, or through their website. The telephone number is 855-411-2372 and the link to the online complaint form is https://help.consumerfinance.gov/app/ask_cc_complaint.
More About the CFPB:
Last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB. This law establishes a single point of accountability to assure that markets for consumer financial products work for American consumers and for responsible providers of those products. On July 21, the CFPB started this work, and it will be a cop on the beat to enforce the laws on credit cards, mortgages, student loans, prepaid cards, and other kinds of financial products and services.
What if I cannot manage my credit card debt?
If you need help managing credit card debt, fees and high interest rates, you may want to contact a credit counseling service or debt management company. They can provide practical and legal financial advice regarding the use of credit. They can also attempt to renegotiate the terms of your credit agreements and arrange to pay off your debts. But be careful when choosing a debt management company, as not all of them are legitimate. Some may charge excessive fees, misrepresent what they will be able to accomplish, or not pay your creditors in a timely manner, which can end up making your debt problems even worse. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help you locate a reputable credit counseling service in your area. You can contact them at 800-388-2227 or www.nfcc.org.
The articles and brochures below address various topics related to credit and credit cards.
- Getting Credit (FTC)
- Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What to do if They're Lost or Stolen (FTC)
- Credit Card Savvy Students Handout (FDIC)
- Getting Credit When Your Over 62 (FTC)
- Gold and Platinum Cards (FTC)
- Credit and Divorce (FTC)
- Credit and Debit Card Blocking (FTC)
- Credit Card Loss Protection Offers (FTC)
- Secured Credit Card Marketing Scams (FTC)
- Knee Deep in Debt (FTC)