CFPB Slashes Credit Card Late Fees to $8

The lower fee will mean an average savings of $220 per year for the millions of credit card customers who are charged late fees.
Cara Smith
By Cara Smith 
Edited by Amanda Derengowski

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Update: On March 7, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rule against credit card late fees. The suit argues that the CFPB’s rule violates the CARD Act of 2009 by preventing credit card companies from “collecting reasonable and proportional late fees when cardholders don’t pay their bills on time.” On a call announcing the rule, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said the bureau’s research shows that issuers’ late fee revenue is “more than five times the companies’ associated costs.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule Tuesday to slash credit card late fees in a move the agency says should save millions of credit card users an average of $220 per year. The decision drew immediate objection from banking trade groups.

The government agency reduced the typical credit card late fee from $32 to $8, which should translate to more than $10 billion in annual savings among the roughly 45 million consumers who are charged late fees.

“For over a decade, credit card giants have been exploiting a loophole to harvest billions of dollars in junk fees from American consumers," said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra in a statement, asserting that the new rule will end these practices.

The lower fees are expected to take effect within three months, which would give card issuers time to update their disclosures and systems. It’s unclear how possible challenges to the rule could affect the timing.

Rule halts late fees' steady climb since 2010

The rule, which was proposed in 2023, closes a loophole in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.

The CARD Act banned credit card companies from charging higher late fees than needed to cover the companies’ costs associated with the late payment. But in 2010, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors voted to include a provision in the CARD Act that allowed banks to charge no more than $25 for the first late payment and $35 for subsequent late payments, with both of those figures being adjusted for inflation each year.

Today, those figures have swelled to $30 and $41, respectively, despite credit card companies having adopted cheaper business practices in recent years, the CFPB said in a statement. The average credit card late fee was $32 in 2022, up from $23 in 2010.

“Almost all of the credit card giants have been hiking these fees every year using automatic inflation adjustments as an excuse,” Chopra said in a call Monday announcing the CFPB’s new rule. “Today, the credit card industry hauls in more than $14 billion in late fee revenue, which our research shows is more than five times the companies’ associated costs.”

The rule applies to large credit card companies with more than 1 million open accounts. These companies hold more than 95% of open credit card balances, the CFPB said in the statement.

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Industry trade groups speak out against the rule

Banking industry executives slammed the new rule. Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association (ABA) said in a statement that the new CFPB rule “relied on flawed assumptions and a mischaracterization of the important role late fees play in promoting responsible consumer behavior.”

Adding that the ABA will try to challenge the new policy, Nichols said, “This rule should not be allowed to go into effect.”

Lindsey Johnson, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement that the new rule is “normalizing being late on credit card payments” and ultimately puts consumers’ financial health at risk.

A crackdown on junk fees

The CFPB’s latest announcement follows a similar move earlier in the year on overdraft fees, signaling a concerted crackdown on junk fees from federal officials and regulators.

In January, the agency proposed restrictions that could lower the average overdraft fee from $35 to $3 per transaction. Banking industry advocates spoke out fiercely against this proposal too. The restriction is currently expected to go into effect in October 2025.

The Biden administration will soon announce a “strike force” intended to “hold companies accountable when they engage in unfair and illegal practices that keep prices high,” Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council, said on the Monday call with Chopra.

The force is part of the administration’s efforts to lower the cost of groceries, prescription drugs and health care, banking, housing, airfare and basic utilities. It’ll be jointly led by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

In conjunction with those efforts, the Federal Communications Commission will also tackle “bulk billing,” in which people living or working in a building are charged by landlords or building owners for internet, cable or satellite service, whether they want the service or not.

(Photo by Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

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