Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee’s financial institutions subcommittee, is floating a far-reaching credit card bill that would bar several common ways companies charge fees and raise rates.
The draft bill obtained by American Banker would ban so-called universal default on outstanding debt, double-cycle billing, and repricing for any reason not laid out in the contract.
The New York Democrat’s bill would give cardholders more time to opt out of changes in terms and require companies to explain why consumers’ interest rates rose and how the cardholder could reduce the rate.
Registered or certified payments sent a week before their due dates could not be subject to late fees regardless of when the payment was received.
The bill also proposes a formula that would, in effect, require card companies to apply payments to higher-cost balances.
Rep. Maloney said in a recent interview that she planned to introduce the legislation early next year. She said she has been working with the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, and said she prefers “to operate in a bipartisan fashion.”
Rep. Bachus’ office did not return calls seeking comment, and industry lobbyists said they doubt he would support such a sweeping approach. Rep. Bachus has criticized double-cycle billing, universal default, and the short periods customers are given to pay bills.
A spokesman for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said the Massachusetts Democrat is generally supportive of Rep. Maloney’s effort but is waiting to see what the final bill looks like.
In the Senate, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd has said curbing abusive card practices is a priority that requires legislation but has not introduced a bill.
Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, introduced a sweeping card reform bill in May, similar to Rep. Maloney’s, but no action has been taken on it.