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The exponential rise in credit card debt has consumers taking notice – and they aren’t the only ones.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on an improved tool that will make credit card rates and benefits more transparent in the hopes of mitigating the impact of rising interest costs.
What is the Terms of Credit Card Plans Survey?
For over 30 years, the largest 25 credit card issuers and at least 125 other institutions have been required to provide biannual data as a contribution to the Terms of Credit Card Plans (TCCP) Survey.
This survey, which is led by the federal government, is meant to help consumers make more informed decisions when comparing credit cards. It’s also a way to bolster competition among the sea of credit cards offered.
Unfortunately, the tool has never received a major revamp in its lifetime, which leaves parts of it feeling outdated. Historically, banks were only required to provide information on their most popular cards, and the information provided about cards' annual percentage rates (APR) was often too general for the average consumer to thoroughly understand.
With credit card interest rates booming in 2023 (over 20% for some issuers), the push to mitigate consumer impact is on everyone’s minds and this survey could be the first step in more transparent credit card shopping.
Survey Updates for 2023
The improved survey launched on March 21, 2023, and aims to level the playing field among issuers while assisting consumers with picking a credit card that is truly the best fit for their situation.
Here are some of the biggest updates to the survey:
- Improved Transparency: The updated survey will take a deeper dive to ask more questions about interest rates from issuers across their card offerings. Including minimum and maximum APR ranges, how a card's APR relates to an applicant's credit score and the median APR for a card broken down by credit score tiers.
- More Complete Coverage: Even if a financial institution is not part of the historical survey group, it can now voluntarily submit information to be included in the survey as well. This will help increase the visibility of smaller financial institutions that may have better interest rates but lack the budget to compete with the national chains.
- More Comprehensive Analysis: The top 25 issuers will now have to answer questions about all of the credit cards they offer, not just their popular products.
The Bottom Line
This tool could be a game changer for smaller financial institutions that offer a great product but don’t have the big budgets to compete with national chains. It's also one of the only truly neutral information sources available for credit cards, which could prove invaluable to consumers who aren't well-versed in the space.
Financial institutions involved in the survey have until April 20, 2023 to complete the survey. After this, the data should be made public and available for consumer use.