6 Credit Card Rights for Every Cardholder

Learn Your Government-Protected Credit Card Rights

Assorted credit cards
Learn Your Government-Protected Credit Card Rights. Nick Wright / Getty Images

With credit card issuers, money doesn't always equal power. Several laws exist that protect the rights of consumers with credit cards. Become familiar with your credit card rights. You never know when you’ll need to remind a credit card company to follow the law.

Applying for New Credit

When you apply for credit, credit card issuers can’t discriminate against you because of your gender, race, religion, nationality, age, marital status or whether you receive public assistance.

The credit card issuer can deny your credit card application if you don’t meet the legal age for getting a credit card. Credit card issuers can’t deny your credit card application because you receive public assistance and they have to let you include public assistance in your income.

Credit card issuers have to tell you the result of your credit card application within 30 days. If your application is turned down, they must tell you why and give you 60 days to find out why your application was turned down. You’re also entitled to a free credit score if your credit card application is denied or if you’re approved, but for less favorable terms.

Credit Card Billing

Credit cards have to mail you a billing statement at least 21 days before your payment due date, enough time to make your payment on time and take advantage of the grace period if you have one.

Your billing statement will include credits and charges to your account since the last billing statement. It will also include your minimum payment, the due date, and some information about late payment penalties, and impact of making the minimum payment.

You have the right to dispute billing errors.

If your credit card statement has an error, you generally have 60 days to dispute the error with the credit card issuer. Though many credit card issuers will take a dispute over the phone, you must make your dispute in writing to ensure your rights are fully protected under law.

Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

If your credit card is used without your consent, you can reduce your liability for the charges by taking certain actions. First, you should report your credit card missing as soon as possible. You won’t be responsible for any of the charges if you report your stolen credit card before the thief gets a chance to use it, but you could be liable for up to $50 if you’re late reporting the loss. You’re not liable at all for charges made using just your credit card number when you still have the credit card in your possession.

Credit Reporting

Your credit card issuer may report details about your credit card and your payment history to a credit bureau, also called a credit reporting agency or credit bureau.

You have the right to view your credit report and make sure the information reported about your credit card is accurate. You can dispute any inaccurate information with the credit bureau or with the credit card issuer.

Changes to Your Credit Card Agreement

Credit card issuers sometimes make major changes to your credit card agreement, like increasing your interest rate or introducing a new annual fee. You have the right to reject these changes and pay off your credit card under your current terms. The credit card issuer has to send you a 45-day advance notice before a major change takes effect. They must also give you instructions on how to opt-out of these changes.

Dealing With a Violation to Your Credit Card Rights

You can file a complaint against a credit card issuer who violates your rights with the appropriate regulating agency. The is responsible for enforcing laws for credit card companies. For now, continue to send complaints about debt collectors and credit bureaus to the Federal Trade Commission. Several different agencies regulate credit card companies, like the National Credit Union Administration. You can file a complaint with these agencies also.