Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (commonly known as the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights) is a federal law that is designed to protect credit cardholders from unfair practices by credit card companies. Below is a list of some of the important rights this law grants you.

Interest Rates

  • Your interest rate cannot be increased during the first 12 months of opening a credit card unless you are more than 30 days late with a payment.
  • Promotional interest rates must last at least six months.
  • An interest rate increase can only apply to new charges, not the pre-existing balance. This rule does not apply if you are past due more than 60 days.
  • If your interest rate was raised due to making a payment late, the card issuer must reinstate the lower interest rate if you make on-time payments for six months.
  • You must be given at least 45 days notice of an interest rate increase.
  • Universal default clauses are prohibited, meaning a creditor can no longer raise your interest rate because you were delinquent with another creditor.


  • You cannot be charged an over-the-limit fee unless you authorize your credit card company to process over-the-limit transactions. If you do provide authorization, you can only be charged one over-the-limit fee per billing cycle.
  • You cannot be charged a fee for paying your bill online or over the phone, except for expedited (last-minute) phone payments.
  • The amount of any fee charged must be reasonably related to the actual cost the creditor incurred as a result of your action.

Billing Practices

  • If you have balances with different interest rates and pay more than the minimum required amount, the extra payment must be applied to the balance with the highest interest rate.
  • Your balance cannot be calculated using the double-cycle billing method (which uses your daily balance over the past two billing periods).
  • Your statement must be mailed to you at least 21 days before the due date.
  • If your due date falls on a weekend or holiday, your payment is considered on time if it is made on the next business day.
  • If a mailed payment is received by 5 PM on the due date, it cannot be marked late – a creditor cannot set a deadline of 11 AM or another earlier time.

Restrictions for Young Adults and Teens

  • Consumers under the age of 21 must have a co-signer over the age of 21 or verifiable income to obtain a credit card.
  • For joint accounts held by a person under 21 and an adult, the card issuer must get approval from the adult to increase the credit limit.
  • Consumers under the age of 18 cannot have a credit card unless they are emancipated. However, they can still be an authorized user.
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