Christmas could come early for consumers with Congress considering moving up the date for full implementation of the Credit Card Act to Dec. 1, from February 2010.
Among the new rules: a provision that forbids card issuers from retroactively changing rates on existing balances, unless it's spelled out in a card agreement or an account is 60 days delinquent; a rule requiring card applicants under age 21 to have a co-signer, unless they show they can make payments; and a rule requiring that overdraft protection only cover those opting in.
The act also includes the already-in-effect rule requiring issuers to give 45 days notice for significant changes to credit-card agreements.
Until the law becomes effective, consumers don't really have any legal recourse if issuers suddenly raise rates or cut credit limits, unless a contract has been breached. Some credit-card firms have been taking bold action ahead of full implementation of the law.
The Wall Street Journal contributed to the report.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969