Judge Blocks Biden Administration Rule Capping Credit Card Late Fees At $8

A new rule blocked by a federal judge is intended to close a 2010 loophole the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says has been “exploited” by credit card companies to hike fees on late payments.. (Oleksandra Yagello/Moment RF/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

By Eva Rothenberg, CNN

New York (CNN) — A federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday blocked a new Biden administration rule that would prohibit credit card companies from charging customers late fees higher than $8.

US District Judge Mark T. Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, granted a preliminary injunction to several business and banking organizations that allege the new rule violates several federal statutes.

These organizations, led by the right-leaning US Chamber of Commerce, sued the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the rule was finalized in March. The rule, which was set to go into effect Tuesday, would save consumers about $10 billion per year by cutting fees from an average of $32, the CFPB estimated.

A preliminary injunction means the rule can’t go into effect until a hearing is held where the case can be adjudicated in greater detail.

“The credit card lobby’s lawsuit is an attempt to derail a rule that will save families $10 billion each year in order to continue making tens of billions of dollars in profits by charging borrowers late fees that far exceed their actual costs,” a CFPB spokesperson told CNN in a statement. “Consumers will shoulder $800 million in late fees every month that the rule is delayed — money that pads the profit margins of the largest credit card issuers. We will continue to defend this rule so that working families can stop paying excessive late fees that Congress banned more than a decade ago.”

Maria Monaghan, the counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce Litigation Center, said in a statement Friday that the ruling was “a major win for responsible consumers who pay their credit card bills on time and businesses that want to provide affordable credit,” and that it would “continue to hold the CFPB accountable in court.”

“It is disappointing that the court has granted this last-ditch effort by the banks to prevent these critical limits on credit card late fees from going into effect next week,” said Chuck Bell, advocacy program director for non-profit Consumer Reports. “Credit card companies have been bilking consumers out of billions of dollars in excessive late fees for far too long.”

The rule, first proposed in February 2023, is part of a broader push by the Biden administration to eliminate “junk fees,” considered hidden or misleading charges to consumers.

The new rule would apply to large credit card issuers — those with more than 1 million accounts. These companies represent more than 95% of total outstanding credit card debt, according to the CFPB.

The push to target credit card fees is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to ease financial burdens for many Americans. Some borrowers, especially millennials and those with lower incomes, have fallen behind on their credit card debt following more than two years of high inflation.

The new rule also intended to close a 2010 loophole the CFPB says has been “exploited” by credit card companies to hike fees on late payments.

According to a national Consumer Reports survey published in September, one in five American adults said they had paid a credit card late fee in the previous 12 months. Eighty-two percent said they supported lowering the maximum late fee.

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