Say What? The CFPB Unravels Credit Card Agreements

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has now added credit card agreements to its list of consumer-centered communication. The Bureau is asking for public comments about their prototype at

Here’s an explanation of their new focus from Marla Blow, Acting Assistant Director, Card Markets, CFPB.

“The Credit cards are simple to use, but consumers have a lot of choice in exactly how they use them. Differences between cards provide even more choices to consumers. 
Credit card agreements describe the terms and features of a particular card. They spell out the rights and obligations of both parties, and provide legal protections for the issuer.

This can result in a dense and complicated document that can be difficult for consumers to understand.

The thought-starter we’ve developed reduces this complexity. We’ve separated the key terms from the legalese, leaving a clear, readable document. 
We think it makes sense to give consumers a short, understandable document with the key terms they need to know. And we think it makes sense to give issuers the option to use our definitions, freely available on our website. We think this could reduce the costs of compliance and printing. 
But as credit card users and issuers, you’re the people who need these agreements to work for you, so we want to know what you think. Would consumers be more likely to read this? Could issuers use this approach for their own products?”

We urge you to click on their website, read the prototype, and give them feedback. Then share that feedback with us at the Center for Plain Language. We want to know what you think, too.

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Printed April 19, 2014


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