The Department of Finance has introduced new legislation, called Credit Business Practice Regulations, intended to protect Canadian consumers from practices deemed potentially harmful by the banks and other credit card issuers.
There are three main areas that stand out:
The most significant proposal that may be noticed by clients is the creation of a 21-day grace period on all credit card purchases. Currently some card issuers offer 15- to 24-day grace periods on new purchases when a customer pays the outstanding balance in full. Other issuers tally interest in that period if there is an outstanding balance carried forward from the previous period.
The new legislation will require financial institutions to cease the practice of automatically allocating payments above a minimum repayment to outstanding balances with the lowest-interest rates if a borrower has multiple balances with different rates.
The new legislation will also require credit card issuers to get permission from a card holder before they increase the credit limit. Issuers will be required to either call the consumer or mention in their monthly statement that they have been approved for extended credit. Issuers will not be allowed to automatically extend the credit limit without the expressed consent of the consumer.
Photo Credit: “Too Much Credit” by Andres Rueda