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Akaka has hand in credit-card legislation


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POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WASHINGTON » The Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to rein in credit card rate increases and excessive fees, hoping to give voters some breathing room amid a recession that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans jobless or facing foreclosure.

The House was on track to pass the measure as early as today, paving the way for President Barack Obama to see the bill on his desk by week's end.

Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii authored parts of the bill, which was passed 90-5 by the Senate.

If enacted into law as expected, the bill would give the credit card industry nine months to change the way it does business: Lenders would have to post their credit card agreements on the Internet and let customers pay their bills online or by phone without an added fee. They would also have to give consumers a chance to spare themselves from over-the-limit fees and provide 45 days' notice and an explanation before interest rates are increased.

Some of these changes are already on track to take effect in July 2010, under new rules being imposed by the Federal Reserve. But the Senate bill would put these changes into law and go further in restricting the types of bank fees and who can get a card.