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What are Consumer Rights for Credit Cards?

Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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When consumers use credit cards, certain regulations protect them from unfair practices of some credit card companies. Although consumer rights for credit cards vary by region, many basic simple rights still apply for most credit cards. Consumer rights for credit cards include the right not to receive any credit card unless it was specifically requested, and the right to have credit card application reviewed fairly, without discrimination. After the credit card is issued, a consumer is allowed even more rights, including the right to have her payment applied to her account as soon as possible, and the right to dispute errors on her bill. Also, a consumer can not be responsible for fraudulent charges, and she does not have to accept changes to her card agreement.

Credit card companies are not allowed to send consumers credit cards unless they have specifically asked to receive them. Because of the United States Equal Credit Opportunity Act, consumers also have the right to have their credit card applications reviewed fairly and without discrimination. A person can not be denied a credit card because of her sex, age, race, religion, or nationality. She can not be denied simply because she receives any form of public assistance. Welfare assistance must be considered equal to any other types of income, such as wages.

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Other consumer rights for credit rights for credit cards deal with credit card denial. For example, if a company denies an applicant, she has the right to know why. She is also entitled to know which credit reporting agencies the credit card company used when processing her application.

Card companies must apply payments received to a cardholder's account as soon as her payment is received. They can not delay crediting the account in order to incur more interest or late payments. In the United States, credit card companies are investigated and audited regularly to ensure this does not happen. Any company found violating this consumer right will be fined and forced to issue refunds to cardholders.

Consumer rights for credit cards also protect cardholders from paying for any errors on their bills. If a consumer notices a billing error of any sort, she has the right to notify the company in writing within a certain period of time. Although it can vary depending on the area or the credit card company, a cardholder usually has around two months to contact the company. After the error is pointed out, the company must then fix the error. They also have a certain amount of time in which they can do this, usually around 90 days.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a credit cardholder is only responsible for paying a small portion of unauthorized or fraudulent charges. If a credit card is stolen or otherwise lost, the consumer also has a responsibility to report this to both the card issuer and the police as soon as possible. If she fails to do this, she may be responsible for paying for all charges, whether they were authorized or not.

One of the lesser known consumer rights for credit cards involves changes to the cardholder agreement. If a credit card company tries to change the terms and conditions of an agreement, including raising the interest rate, the cardholder must be notified in writing. If she disagrees with these terms, she has the right to reject these changes. This must also be done in writing, and if she does not agree to the changes, many times the card will still be valid until the expiration date. Afterward, the account is usually closed, and any remaining balance will be paid off under the terms of the original agreement.

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