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CARD Act Keeps College Students From Graduating with Debt

[Friday, November 8th, 2013]

The Credit CARD Act is helping college students from getting an unwelcome graduation gift: a pile of debt.

When it was implemented in 2010, one of the goals of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act was to help protect young people from being targeted by credit card issuers. Banks were no longer allowed to market their credit cards on college campuses or give away merchandise to entice students into signing up for credit cards they could not necessarily afford to have.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which took over implementation and authority in regulating the CARD Act in July 2011, says the legislation has been largely successful in this and other areas.

A report from the CFPB, revealed how the CARD Act has helped consumers, and where more improvement could be made. One area of progress was the status of young people and credit cards.

Besides changes to the marketing of credit cards to people under age 21, young people cannot be approved for a card unless they “demonstrate an independent ability to repay the debt.” That means they must have income, or have a co-signer on the account. As a result, the percentage of people age 18 to 21 who have credit cards in their own name has been cut by 50%.

Cost of credit has dropped, satisfaction is up

Other findings include a lower cost of credit overall. Between 2008 and 2012, the cost of credit declined by 2%. Other improvements brought by the CARD Act include the virtual elimination of overlimit fees, a decline in late fees, and an increase in the availability and access to credit by qualified consumers. There is $2 trillion of credit currently available to borrowers.

Along with the lower fees and better access to credit came an increase in customer satisfaction. The most recent JD Power consumer satisfaction report showed credit card customers are happier than ever with their credit cards. Satisfaction levels were at their highest since the inception of the report in 2007.

Room for improvement

There are still some areas that could be improved. Richard Cordray, the director of the CFPB, said that the CARD Act brought better consumer protections and fairness to the marketplace, but we found there is more work to be done.

Things like the marketing of add-on products such as credit monitors, disclosures to consumers, fee harvester cards and deferred interest products were highlighted as ongoing concerns.

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