This afternoon, the House passed legislation imposing new restrictions on the credit card industry. Known as the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009, the bill (H.R. 627) was approved by a 361-64 vote.

The House had passed an earlier version of H.R. 627 on April 30, 2009. However, the Senate amended that version of the House bill and passed the amended bill yesterday. Today, the House approved H.R. 627 in the same form as passed by the Senate. Amongst other things, the bill:

  • permits credit card companies to increase interest rates on customers only after 60 days of payment delinquency;
  • requires that credit card companies provide notice to customers of interest rate increases 45 days prior to such increases;
  • requires credit card companies to mail customer bills 21 days prior to the due date;
  • mandates that credit card companies review interest rates periodically and lower interest rates if a customer improves his or her payment history;
  • prohibits issuers from charging fees based on the method of payment;
  • prohibits fees based on payments made by mail, phone, electronic transfer or online, except for expedited payments;
  • imposes heightened restrictions on college student credit offerings;
  • prohibits credit card companies from issuing a card to individuals under the age of 21 who fail to show a reasonable ability to pay or do not provide a co-signer; and
  • mandates that all gift cards have at least a five-year life.

The House voted separately on a provision that would permit firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges where permitted by state law. That provision was approved by a 279-147 vote.

The legislation will require credit card companies to comply with the new requirements within nine months of enactment. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama, who has committed to sign the bill by Memorial Day, which would result in a late February 2010 compliance date.