ASTA praises House action to accelerate credit card reforms


ASTA is praising the US House of Representatives for passing a bill to accelerate the implementation of earlier legislation to protect consumers from abusive and misleading credit card policies. The bill, HR 3639, the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009, would move up the effective date of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act from February 10, 2010, to December 1, 2009. President Obama signed the original legislation into law on May 22, 2009.

The earlier Credit CARD Act contains a host of reforms to credit card lending practices, including new disclosure requirements for fees and account terms, a ban on retroactive rate increases, and new rules concerning promotional rates.

“With travelers already making plans for the upcoming holiday travel season, the accelerated timetable for this legislation comes at a welcome time,” said Chris Russo, ASTA’s president and chairman.

While urging Congress to finish its work on the bill, Russo also called on the Senate to ensure that the bill’s protections apply to small business owners who rely on credit cards to finance their business needs. “As travel agents and other small-business owners continue to face difficulty in obtaining credit on reasonable terms from traditional lending sources, parallel credit sources such as credit cards are more important than ever,” Russo continued. “The Senate should amend HR 3639 to add explicit protections for small businesses.”

Russo singled out for particular praise the original cosponsors of the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act. “ASTA and its travel agent members deeply appreciate the leadership of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in introducing this important legislation and that of Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Betty Sutton (D-OH), Michael Capuano (D-MA), John Tierney (D-MA), and Sander Levin (D-MI) for their early and active support of the bill,” Russo stated.

ASTA was one of 17 organizations to endorse a bipartisan amendment by Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and Nita Lowey (D-CA) to apply Truth in Lending Act (TILA) protections to small business credit card transactions. The amendment was not included in the final version of the bill.

Earlier this year, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), respectively the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business, introduced a similar amendment to the Senate version of the Credit CARD Act. Unfortunately, senators were not given an opportunity to vote on the Landrieu amendment during floor consideration of the bill.

For more information on this issue, please contact Colin Tooze, ASTA’s vice president of government affairs, at .

The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge, and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest, and do business.