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Undersecretary Barbara AnthonyPosted by:
Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

This week, new federal rules regarding your credit card accounts take effect. The changes include a number of mandates that improve your ability to get information about your balance and payments, and they are changes that were very striking to me when I received a bill last week.

I returned home from a vacation to get a credit card bill that included a number of charges from my trip. It was the first bill that included a key provision of the regulations – that the bill details how long it would take to pay off the existing balance by making the minimum payment, and how much it would eventually cost. For the first time, that information was in black and white on my bill. I am very glad I pay my bill off each month.

If I were to pay the minimum, it would take me 22 years to pay off the balance. And it would cost more than double than what I put on the card. I enjoyed my vacation very much, but I don’t want to be paying it off in 2032, and I don’t want to pay more than twice what it actually cost me.

Consumers traditionally only saw their existing balance and minimum payment in the past. Knowing how much it would cost in the long run would take a degree in advance mathematics. These new regulations give consumers more information – and information is power when making decisions, spending money, and knowing just how costly credit card debt can truly be.

The new regulations do a number of other things – including setting specific due dates for each month, guaranteeing 21 days to make a payment, and creating new protections for college students. Across the board, these rules restore some power back to consumers, and give them the eye-opening information necessary to make smart choices with their money.

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