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Comment for 1026.55 - Limitations on Increasing Annual Percentage Rates, Fees, and Charges

55(a) General Rule

1. Increase in rate, fee, or charge. Section 1026.55(a) prohibits card issuers from increasing an annual percentage rate or any fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) on a credit card account unless specifically permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b). Except as specifically provided in § 1026.55(b), this prohibition applies even if the circumstances under which an increase will occur are disclosed in advance. The following examples illustrate the general application of § 1026.55(a) and (b). Additional examples illustrating specific aspects of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b) are provided in the commentary to those exceptions.

i. Account-opening disclosure of non-variable rate for six months, then variable rate. Assume that, at account opening on January 1 of year one, a card issuer discloses that the annual percentage rate for purchases is a non-variable rate of 15% and will apply for six months. The card issuer also discloses that, after six months, the annual percentage rate for purchases will be a variable rate that is currently 18% and will be adjusted quarterly by adding a margin of 8 percentage points to a publicly-available index not under the card issuer's control. Furthermore, the card issuer discloses that the annual percentage rate for cash advances is the same variable rate that will apply to purchases after six months. Finally, the card issuer discloses that, to the extent consistent with § 1026.55 and other applicable law, a non-variable penalty rate of 30% may apply if the consumer makes a late payment. The payment due date for the account is the twenty-fifth day of the month and the required minimum periodic payments are applied to accrued interest and fees but do not reduce the purchase and cash advance balances.

A. Change-in-terms rate increase for new transactions after first year. On January 15 of year one, the consumer uses the account to make a $2,000 purchase and a $500 cash advance. No other transactions are made on the account. At the start of each quarter, the card issuer may adjust the variable rate that applies to the $500 cash advance consistent with changes in the index (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(2)). All required minimum periodic payments are received on or before the payment due date until May of year one, when the payment due on May 25 is received by the creditor on May 28. At this time, the card issuer is prohibited by § 1026.55 from increasing the rates that apply to the $2,000 purchase, the $500 cash advance, or future purchases and cash advances. Six months after account opening (July 1), the card issuer may begin to accrue interest on the $2,000 purchase at the previously-disclosed variable rate determined using an 8-point margin (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)). Because no other increases in rate were disclosed at account opening, the card issuer may not subsequently increase the variable rate that applies to the $2,000 purchase and the $500 cash advance (except due to increases in the index pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(2)). On November 16, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer of a new variable rate that will apply on January 1 of year two (calculated using the same index and an increased margin of 12 percentage points). On December 15, the consumer makes a $100 purchase. On January 1 of year two, the card issuer may increase the margin used to determine the variable rate that applies to new purchases to 12 percentage points (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3)). However, § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) does not permit the card issuer to apply the variable rate determined using the 12-point margin to the $2,000 purchase balance. Furthermore, although the $100 purchase occurred more than 14 days after provision of the § 1026.9(c) notice, § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) does not permit the card issuer to apply the variable rate determined using the 12-point margin to that purchase because it occurred during the first year after account opening. On January 15 of year two, the consumer makes a $300 purchase. The card issuer may apply the variable rate determined using the 12-point margin to the $300 purchase.

B. Account becomes more than 60 days delinquent during first year. Same facts as above except that the required minimum periodic payment due on May 25 of year one is not received by the card issuer until July 30 of year one. Because the card issuer received the required minimum periodic payment more than 60 days after the payment due date, § 1026.55(b)(4) permits the card issuer to increase the annual percentage rate applicable to the $2,000 purchase, the $500 cash advance, and future purchases and cash advances. However, § 1026.55(b)(4)(i) requires the card issuer to first comply with the notice requirements in § 1026.9(g). Thus, if the card issuer provided a § 1026.9(g) notice on July 25 stating that all rates on the account would be increased to the 30% penalty rate, the card issuer could apply that rate beginning on September 8 to all balances and to future transactions.

ii. Account-opening disclosure of non-variable rate for six months, then increased non-variable rate for six months, then variable rate; change-in-terms rate increase for new transactions after first year. Assume that, at account opening on January 1 of year one, a card issuer discloses that the annual percentage rate for purchases will increase as follows: A non-variable rate of 5% for six months; a non-variable rate of 10% for an additional six months; and thereafter a variable rate that is currently 15% and will be adjusted monthly by adding a margin of 5 percentage points to a publicly-available index not under the card issuer's control. The payment due date for the account is the fifteenth day of the month and the required minimum periodic payments are applied to accrued interest and fees but do not reduce the purchase balance. On January 15 of year one, the consumer uses the account to make a $1,500 purchase. Six months after account opening (July 1), the card issuer may begin to accrue interest on the $1,500 purchase at the previously-disclosed 10% non-variable rate (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)). On September 15, the consumer uses the account for a $700 purchase. On November 16, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer of a new variable rate that will apply on January 1 of year two (calculated using the same index and an increased margin of 8 percentage points). One year after account opening (January 1 of year two), the card issuer may begin accruing interest on the $2,200 purchase balance at the previously-disclosed variable rate determined using a 5-point margin (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)). Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to apply the variable rate determined using the 8-point margin to the $2,200 purchase balance. Furthermore, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to subsequently increase the variable rate determined using the 5-point margin that applies to the $2,200 purchase balance (except due to increases in the index pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(2)). The card issuer may, however, apply the variable rate determined using the 8-point margin to purchases made on or after January 1 of year two (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3)).

iii. Change-in-terms rate increase for new transactions after first year; penalty rate increase after first year. Assume that, at account opening on January 1 of year one, a card issuer discloses that the annual percentage rate for purchases is a variable rate determined by adding a margin of 6 percentage points to a publicly-available index outside of the card issuer's control. The card issuer also discloses that, to the extent consistent with § 1026.55 and other applicable law, a non-variable penalty rate of 28% may apply if the consumer makes a late payment. The due date for the account is the fifteenth of the month. On May 30 of year two, the account has a purchase balance of $1,000. On May 31, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer of a new variable rate that will apply on July 16 for all purchases made on or after June 15 (calculated by using the same index and an increased margin of 8 percentage points). On June 14, the consumer makes a $500 purchase. On June 15, the consumer makes a $200 purchase. On July 1, the card issuer has not received the payment due on June 15 and provides the consumer with a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(g) stating that the 28% penalty rate will apply as of August 15 to all transactions made on or after July 16 and that, if the consumer becomes more than 60 days late, the penalty rate will apply to all balances on the account. On July 17, the consumer makes a $300 purchase.

A. Account does not become more than 60 days delinquent. The payment due on June 15 of year two is received on July 2. On July 16, § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) permits the card issuer to apply the variable rate determined using the 8-point margin disclosed in the § 1026.9(c) notice to the $200 purchase made on June 15 but does not permit the card issuer to apply this rate to the $1,500 purchase balance. On August 15, § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) permits the card issuer to apply the 28% penalty rate disclosed at account opening and in the § 1026.9(g) notice to the $300 purchase made on July 17 but does not permit the card issuer to apply this rate to the $1,500 purchase balance (which remains at the variable rate determined using the 6-point margin) or the $200 purchase (which remains at the variable rate determined using the 8-point margin).

B. Account becomes more than 60 days delinquent after provision of § 1026.9(g) notice. Same facts as above except the payment due on June 15 of year two has not been received by August 15. Section 1026.55(b)(4) permits the card issuer to apply the 28% penalty rate to the $1,500 purchase balance and the $200 purchase because it has not received the June 15 payment within 60 days after the due date. However, in order to do so, § 1026.55(b)(4)(i) requires the card issuer to first provide an additional notice pursuant to § 1026.9(g). This notice must be sent no earlier than August 15, which is the first day the account became more than 60 days' delinquent. If the notice is sent on August 15, the card issuer may begin accruing interest on the $1,500 purchase balance and the $200 purchase at the 28% penalty rate beginning on September 29.

2. Relationship to grace period. Nothing in § 1026.55 prohibits a card issuer from assessing interest due to the loss of a grace period to the extent consistent with § 1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(B) and § 1026.54. In addition, a card issuer has not reduced an annual percentage rate on a credit card account for purposes of § 1026.55 if the card issuer does not charge interest on a balance or a portion thereof based on a payment received prior to the expiration of a grace period. For example, if the annual percentage rate for purchases on an account is 15% but the card issuer does not charge any interest on a $500 purchase balance because that balance was paid in full prior to the expiration of the grace period, the card issuer has not reduced the 15% purchase rate to 0% for purposes of § 1026.55.

3. Fees in connection with covered separate credit features accessible by hybrid prepaid-credit cards. With regard to a covered separate credit feature and an asset feature on a prepaid account that are both accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61 where the credit feature is a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan, § 1026.55(a) prohibits card issuers from increasing an annual percentage rate or any fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (iii), or (xii) on a credit card account unless specifically permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b). This is true regardless of whether these fees or annual percentage rates are imposed on the asset feature of the prepaid account or on the credit feature.

4. Fees imposed on the asset feature of a prepaid account that are not charges imposed as part of the plan. Section 1026.55(a) does not apply to any fee or charge imposed on the asset feature of the prepaid account that is not a charge imposed as part of the plan under § 1026.6(b)(3). See § 1026.6(b)(3)(iii)(D) and (E) and related commentary regarding fees imposed on the asset feature of the prepaid account that are not charges imposed as part of the plan under § 1026.6(b)(3) with respect to covered separate credit features accessible by hybrid prepaid-credit cards and non-covered separate credit features as those terms are defined in § 1026.61.

55(b) Exceptions

1. Exceptions not mutually exclusive. A card issuer generally may increase an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) pursuant to an exception set forth in § 1026.55(b) even if that increase would not be permitted under a different exception. For example, although a card issuer cannot increase an annual percentage rate pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1) unless that rate is provided for a specified period of at least six months, the card issuer may increase an annual percentage rate during a specified period due to an increase in an index consistent with § 1026.55(b)(2). Similarly, although § 1026.55(b)(3) does not permit a card issuer to increase an annual percentage rate during the first year after account opening, the card issuer may increase the rate during the first year after account opening pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(4) if the required minimum periodic payment is not received within 60 days after the due date. However, if § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires a card issuer to decrease the rate, fee, or charge that applies to a balance while the account is subject to a workout or temporary hardship arrangement or subject to 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or a similar Federal or state statute or regulation, the card issuer may not impose a higher rate, fee, or charge on that balance pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(5) or (b)(6) upon completion or failure of the arrangement or once 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or the similar Federal or state statute or regulation no longer applies. For example, assume that, on January 1, the annual percentage rate that applies to a $1,000 balance is increased from 12% to 30% pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(4). On February 1, the rate on that balance is decreased from 30% to 15% consistent with § 1026.55(b)(5) as a part of a workout or temporary hardship arrangement. On July 1, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to reduce the rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $1,000 balance from 15% to 12%. If the consumer subsequently completes or fails to comply with the terms of the workout or temporary hardship arrangement, the card issuer may not increase the 12% rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $1,000 balance pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(5).

2. Relationship between exceptions in § 1026.55(b) and notice requirements in § 1026.9. Nothing in § 1026.55 alters the requirements in § 1026.9(c) and (g) that creditors provide written notice at least 45 days prior to the effective date of certain increases in annual percentage rates, fees, and charges.

i. 14-day rule in § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii). Although § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) permits a card issuer that discloses an increased rate pursuant to § 1026.9(c) or (g) to apply that rate to transactions that occur more than 14 days after provision of the notice, the card issuer cannot begin to accrue interest at the increased rate until that increase goes into effect, consistent with § 1026.9(c) or (g). For example, if on May 1 a card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) stating that a rate will increase from 15% to 18% on June 15, § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) permits the card issuer to apply the 18% rate to transactions that occur on or after May 16. However, neither § 1026.55 nor § 1026.9(c) permits the card issuer to begin accruing interest at the 18% rate on those transactions until June 15. See additional examples in comment 55(b)(3)-4.

ii. Mid-cycle increases; application of balance computation methods. Once an increased rate has gone into effect, the card issuer cannot calculate interest charges based on that increased rate for days prior to the effective date. Assume that, in the example in paragraph i above, the billing cycles for the account begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month. If, for example, the card issuer uses the average daily balance computation method, it cannot apply the 18% rate to the average daily balance for the entire June billing cycle because that rate did not become effective until June 15. However, the card issuer could apply the 15% rate to the average daily balance from June 1 through June 14 and the 18% rate to the average daily balance from June 15 through June 30. Similarly, if the card issuer that uses the daily balance computation method, it could apply the 15% rate to the daily balance for each day from June 1 through June 14 and the 18% rate to the daily balance for each day from June 15 through June 30.

iii. Mid-cycle increases; delayed implementation of increase. If § 1026.55(b) and § 1026.9(b), (c), or (g) permit a card issuer to apply an increased annual percentage rate, fee, or charge on a date that is not the first day of a billing cycle, the card issuer may delay application of the increased rate, fee, or charge until the first day of the following billing cycle without relinquishing the ability to apply that rate, fee, or charge. Thus, in the example in paragraphs i and ii above, the card issuer could delay application of the 18% rate until the start of the next billing cycle (April 1) without relinquishing its ability to apply that rate under § 1026.55(b)(3). Similarly, assume that, at account opening on January 1, a card issuer discloses that a non-variable annual percentage rate of 10% will apply to purchases for six months and a non-variable rate of 15% will apply thereafter. The first day of each billing cycle for the account is the fifteenth of the month. If the six-month period expires on July 1, the card issuer may delay application of the 15% rate until the start of the next billing cycle (July 15) without relinquishing its ability to apply that rate under § 1026.55(b)(1).

3. Application of a lower rate, fee, or charge. Nothing in § 1026.55 prohibits a card issuer from lowering an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii). However, a card issuer that does so cannot subsequently increase the rate, fee, or charge unless permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b). The following examples illustrate the application of the rule:

i. Application of lower rate during first year. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that a non-variable annual percentage rate of 15% will apply to purchases. The card issuer also discloses that, to the extent consistent with § 1026.55 and other applicable law, a non-variable penalty rate of 30% may apply if the consumer's required minimum periodic payment is received after the payment due date, which is the tenth of the month. The required minimum periodic payments are applied to accrued interest and fees but do not reduce the purchase balance.

A. Temporary rate returns to standard rate at expiration. On September 30 of year one, the account has a purchase balance of $1,400 at the 15% rate. On October 1, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the rate for new purchases will decrease to a non-variable rate of 5% for six months (from October 1 through March 31 of year two) and that, beginning on April 1 of year two, the rate for purchases will increase to the 15% non-variable rate disclosed at account opening. The card issuer does not apply the 5% rate to the $1,400 purchase balance. On October 14 of year one, the consumer makes a $300 purchase at the 5% rate. On January 15 of year two, the consumer makes a $150 purchase at the 5% rate. On April 1 of year two, the card issuer may begin accruing interest on the $300 purchase and the $150 purchase at 15% as disclosed in the § 1026.9(c) notice (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)).

B. Penalty rate increase. Same facts as above except that the required minimum periodic payment due on November 10 of year one is not received until November 15. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to increase any annual percentage rate on the account at this time. The card issuer may apply the 30% penalty rate to new transactions beginning on April 1 of year two pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3) by providing a § 1026.9(g) notice informing the consumer of this increase no later than February 14 of year two. The card issuer may not, however, apply the 30% penalty rate to the $1,400 purchase balance as of September 30 of year one, the $300 purchase on October 15 of year one, or the $150 purchase on January 15 of year two.

ii. Application of lower rate at end of first year. Assume that, at account opening on January 1 of year one, a card issuer discloses that a non-variable annual percentage rate of 15% will apply to purchases for one year and discloses that, after the first year, the card issuer will apply a variable rate that is currently 20% and is determined by adding a margin of 10 percentage points to a publicly-available index not under the card issuer's control. On December 31 of year one, the account has a purchase balance of $3,000.

A. Notice of extension of existing temporary rate provided consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1)(i). On December 15 of year one, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the existing 15% rate will continue to apply until July 1 of year two. The notice further states that, on July 1 of year two, the variable rate disclosed at account opening will apply. On July 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(1) permits the card issuer to apply that variable rate to any remaining portion of the $3,000 balance and to new transactions.

B. Notice of new temporary rate provided consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1)(i). On December 15 of year one, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer of a new variable rate that will apply on January 1 of year two that is lower than the variable rate disclosed at account opening. The new variable rate is calculated using the same index and a reduced margin of 8 percentage points. The notice further states that, on July 1 of year two, the margin will increase to the margin disclosed at account opening (10 percentage points). On July 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(1) permits the card issuer to increase the margin used to determine the variable rate that applies to new purchases to 10 percentage points and to apply that rate to any remaining portion of the $3,000 purchase balance.

C. No notice provided. Same facts as in paragraph ii.B above except that the card issuer does not send a notice on December 15 of year one. Instead, on January 1 of year two, the card issuer lowers the margin used to determine the variable rate to 8 percentage points and applies that rate to the $3,000 purchase balance and to new purchases. Section 1026.9 does not require advance notice in these circumstances. However, unless the account becomes more than 60 days' delinquent, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to subsequently increase the rate that applies to the $3,000 purchase balance except due to increases in the index (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(2)).

iii. Application of lower rate after first year. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that a non-variable annual percentage rate of 10% will apply to purchases for one year, after which that rate will increase to a non-variable rate of 15%. The card issuer also discloses that, to the extent consistent with § 1026.55 and other applicable law, a non-variable penalty rate of 30% may apply if the consumer's required minimum periodic payment is received after the payment due date, which is the tenth of the month. The required minimum periodic payments are applied to accrued interest and fees but do not reduce the purchase balance.

A. Effect of 14-day period. On June 30 of year two, the account has a purchase balance of $1,000 at the 15% rate. On July 1, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the rate for new purchases will decrease to a non-variable rate of 5% for six months (from July 1 through December 31 of year two) and that, beginning on January 1 of year three, the rate for purchases will increase to a non-variable rate of 17%. On July 15 of year two, the consumer makes a $200 purchase. On July 16, the consumer makes a $100 purchase. On January 1 of year three, the card issuer may begin accruing interest on the $100 purchase at 17% (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)). However, § 1026.55(b)(1)(ii)(B) does not permit the card issuer to apply the 17% rate to the $200 purchase because that transaction occurred within 14 days after provision of the § 1026.9(c) notice. Instead, the card issuer may apply the 15% rate that applied to purchases prior to provision of the § 1026.9(c) notice. In addition, if the card issuer applied the 5% rate to the $1,000 purchase balance, § 1026.55(b)(ii)(A) would not permit the card issuer to increase the rate that applies to that balance on January 1 of year three to a rate that is higher than 15% that previously applied to the balance.

B. Penalty rate increase. Same facts as above except that the required minimum periodic payment due on August 25 is received on August 30. At this time, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to increase the annual percentage rates that apply to the $1,000 purchase balance, the $200 purchase, or the $100 purchase. Instead, those rates can only be increased as discussed in paragraph iii.A above. However, if the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) or (g) on September 1, § 1026.55(b)(3) permits the card issuer to apply an increased rate (such as the 17% purchase rate or the 30% penalty rate) to transactions that occur on or after September 16 beginning on October 16.

C. Application of lower temporary rate during specified period. Same facts as in paragraph iii above. On June 30 of year two, the account has a purchase balance of $1,000 at the 15% non-variable rate. On July 1, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the rate for the $1,000 balance and new purchases will decrease to a non-variable rate of 12% for six months (from July 1 through December 31 of year two) and that, beginning on January 1 of year three, the rate for purchases will increase to a variable rate that is currently 20% and is determined by adding a margin of 10 percentage points to a publicly-available index not under the card issuer's control. On August 15 of year two, the consumer makes a $500 purchase. On October 1, the card issuer provides another notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the rate for the $1,000 balance, the $500 purchase, and new purchases will decrease to a non-variable rate of 5% for six months (from October 1 of year two through March 31 of year three) and that, beginning on April 1 of year three, the rate for purchases will increase to a variable rate that is currently 23% and is determined by adding a margin of 13 percentage points to the previously-disclosed index. On November 15 of year two, the consumer makes a $300 purchase. On April 1 of year three, § 1026.55 permits the card issuer to begin accruing interest using the following rates for any remaining portion of the following balances: The 15% non-variable rate for the $1,000 balance; the variable rate determined using the 10-point margin for the $500 purchase; and the variable rate determined using the 13-point margin for the $300 purchase.

4. Date on which transaction occurred. When a transaction occurred for purposes of § 1026.55 is generally determined by the date of the transaction. However, if a transaction that occurred within 14 days after provision of a § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice is not charged to the account prior to the effective date of the change or increase, the card issuer may treat the transaction as occurring more than 14 days after provision of the notice for purposes of § 1026.55. See example in comment 55(b)(3)-4.iii.B. In addition, when a merchant places a “hold” on the available credit on an account for an estimated transaction amount because the actual transaction amount will not be known until a later date, the date of the transaction for purposes of § 1026.55 is the date on which the card issuer receives the actual transaction amount from the merchant. See example in comment 55(b)(3)-4.iii.A.

5. Category of transactions. For purposes of § 1026.55, a “category of transactions” is a type or group of transactions to which an annual percentage rate applies that is different than the annual percentage rate that applies to other transactions. Similarly, a type or group of transactions is a “category of transactions” for purposes of § 1026.55 if a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) applies to those transactions that is different than the fee or charge that applies to other transactions. For example, purchase transactions, cash advance transactions, and balance transfer transactions are separate categories of transactions for purposes of § 1026.55 if a card issuer applies different annual percentage rates to each. Furthermore, if, for example, the card issuer applies different annual percentage rates to different types of purchase transactions (such as one rate for purchases of gasoline or purchases over $100 and a different rate for all other purchases), each type constitutes a separate category of transactions for purposes of § 1026.55.

55(b)(1) Temporary rate, fee, or charge exception

1. Relationship to § 1026.9(c)(2)(v)(B). A card issuer that has complied with the disclosure requirements in § 1026.9(c)(2)(v)(B) has also complied with the disclosure requirements in § 1026.55(b)(1)(i).

2. Period of six months or longer. A temporary annual percentage rate, fee, or charge must apply for a specified period of six months or longer before a card issuer can increase that rate, fee, or charge pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1). The specified period must expire no less than six months after the date on which the card issuer provides the consumer with the disclosures required by § 1026.55(b)(1)(i) or, if later, the date on which the account can be used for transactions to which the temporary rate, fee, or charge applies. Section 1026.55(b)(1) does not prohibit a card issuer from limiting the application of a temporary annual percentage rate, fee, or charge to a particular category of transactions (such as to balance transfers or to purchases over $100). However, in circumstances where the card issuer limits application of the temporary rate, fee, or charge to a single transaction, the specified period must expire no less than six months after the date on which that transaction occurred. The following examples illustrate the application of § 1026.55(b)(1):

i. Assume that on January 1 a card issuer offers a consumer a 5% annual percentage rate on purchases made during the months of January through June. A 15% rate will apply thereafter. On February 15, a $500 purchase is charged to the account. On June 15, a $200 purchase is charged to the account. On July 1, the card issuer may begin accruing interest at the 15% rate on the $500 purchase and the $200 purchase (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)).

ii. Same facts as above except that on January 1 the card issuer offered the 5% rate on purchases beginning in the month of February. Section 1026.55(b)(1) would not permit the card issuer to begin accruing interest at the 15% rate on the $500 purchase and the $200 purchase until August 1.

iii. Assume that on October 31 of year one the annual percentage rate for purchases is 17%. On November 1, the card issuer offers the consumer a 0% rate for six months on purchases made during the months of November and December. The 17% rate will apply thereafter. On November 15, a $500 purchase is charged to the account. On December 15, a $300 purchase is charged to the account. On January 15 of year two, a $150 purchase is charged to the account. Section 1026.55(b)(1) would not permit the card issuer to begin accruing interest at the 17% rate on the $500 purchase and the $300 purchase until May 1 of year two. However, the card issuer may accrue interest at the 17% rate on the $150 purchase beginning on January 15 of year two.

iv. Assume that on June 1 of year one a card issuer offers a consumer a 0% annual percentage rate for six months on the purchase of an appliance. An 18% rate will apply thereafter. On September 1, a $5,000 transaction is charged to the account for the purchase of an appliance. Section 1026.55(b)(1) would not permit the card issuer to begin accruing interest at the 18% rate on the $5,000 transaction until March 1 of year two.

v. Assume that on May 31 of year one the annual percentage rate for purchases is 15%. On June 1, the card issuer offers the consumer a 5% rate for six months on a balance transfer of at least $1,000. The 15% rate will apply thereafter. On June 15, a $3,000 balance is transferred to the account. On July 15, a $200 purchase is charged to the account. Section 1026.55(b)(1) would not permit the card issuer to begin accruing interest at the 15% rate on the $3,000 transferred balance until December 15. However, the card issuer may accrue interest at the 15% rate on the $200 purchase beginning on July 15.

vi. Same facts as in paragraph v above except that the card issuer offers the 5% rate for six months on all balance transfers of at least $1,000 during the month of June and a $2,000 balance is transferred to the account on June 30 (in addition to the $3,000 balance transfer on June 15). Because the 5% rate is not limited to a particular transaction, § 1026.55(b)(1) permits the card issuer to begin accruing interest on the $3,000 and $2,000 transferred balances on December 1.

vii. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that the annual fee for the account is $0 until January 1 of year two, when the fee will increase to $50. On January 1 of year two, the card issuer may impose the $50 annual fee. However, the issuer must also comply with the notice requirements in § 1026.9(e).

viii. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that the monthly maintenance fee for the account is $0 until July 1 of year one, when the fee will increase to $10. Beginning on July 1 of year one, the card issuer may impose the $10 monthly maintenance fee (to the extent consistent with § 1026.52(a)).

3. Deferred interest and similar promotional programs.

i. Application of § 1026.55. The general prohibition in § 1026.55(a) applies to the imposition of accrued interest upon the expiration of a deferred interest or similar promotional program under which the consumer is not obligated to pay interest that accrues on a balance if that balance is paid in full prior to the expiration of a specified period of time. However, the exception in § 1026.55(b)(1) also applies to these programs, provided that the specified period is six months or longer and that, prior to the commencement of the period, the card issuer discloses the length of the period and the rate at which interest will accrue on the balance subject to the deferred interest or similar program if that balance is not paid in full prior to expiration of the period. See comment 9(c)(2)(v)-9. For purposes of § 1026.55, “deferred interest” has the same meaning as in § 1026.16(h)(2) and associated commentary.

ii. Examples.

A. Deferred interest offer at account opening.* Assume that, at account opening on January 1 of year one, the card issuer discloses the following with respect to a deferred interest program: “No interest on purchases made in January of year one if paid in full by December 31 of year one. If the balance is not paid in full by that date, interest will be imposed from the transaction date at a rate of 20%.” On January 15 of year one, the consumer makes a purchase of $2,000. No other transactions are made on the account. The terms of the deferred interest program require the consumer to make minimum periodic payments with respect to the deferred interest balance, and the payment due on April 1 is not received until April 10. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to charge to the account interest that has accrued on the $2,000 purchase at this time. Furthermore, if the consumer pays the $2,000 purchase in full on or before December 31 of year one, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to charge to the account any interest that has accrued on that purchase. If, however, the $2,000 purchase has not been paid in full by January 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(1) permits the card issuer to charge to the account the interest accrued on that purchase at the 20% rate during year one (to the extent consistent with other applicable law).

B. Deferred interest offer after account opening. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that the rate that applies to purchases is a variable annual percentage rate that is currently 18% and will be adjusted quarterly by adding a margin of 8 percentage points to a publicly-available index not under the card issuer's control. The card issuer also discloses that, to the extent consistent with § 1026.55 and other applicable law, a non-variable penalty rate of 30% may apply if the consumer's required minimum periodic payment is received after the payment due date, which is the first of the month. On June 30 of year two, the consumer uses the account for a $1,000 purchase in response to an offer of a deferred interest program. Under the terms of this program, interest on the purchase will accrue at the variable rate for purchases but the consumer will not be obligated to pay that interest if the purchase is paid in full by December 31 of year three. The terms of the deferred interest program require the consumer to make minimum periodic payments with respect to the deferred interest balance, and the payment due on September 1 of year two is not received until September 6. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to charge to the account interest that has accrued on the $1,000 purchase at this time. Furthermore, if the consumer pays the $1,000 purchase in full on or before December 31 of year three, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to charge to the account any interest that has accrued on that purchase. On December 31 of year three, the $1,000 purchase has been paid in full. Under these circumstances, the card issuer may not charge any interest accrued on the $1,000 purchase.

C. Application of § 1026.55(b)(4) to deferred interest programs. Same facts as in paragraph ii.B above except that, on November 2 of year two, the card issuer has not received the required minimum periodic payments due on September 1, October 1, or November 1 of year two and sends a § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice stating that interest accrued on the $1,000 purchase since June 30 of year two will be charged to the account on December 17 of year two and thereafter interest will be charged on the $1,000 purchase consistent with the variable rate for purchases. On December 17 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(4) permits the card issuer to charge to the account interest accrued on the $1,000 purchase since June 30 of year two and § 1026.55(b)(3) permits the card issuer to begin charging interest on the $1,000 purchase consistent with the variable rate for purchases. However, if the card issuer receives the required minimum periodic payments due on January 1, February 1, March 1, April 1, May 1, and June 1 of year three, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to cease charging the account for interest on the $1,000 purchase no later than the first day of the next billing cycle. See comment 55(b)(4)-3.iii. However, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) does not require the card issuer to waive or credit the account for interest accrued on the $1,000 purchase since June 30 of year two. If the $1,000 purchase is paid in full on December 31 of year three, the card issuer is not permitted to charge to the account interest accrued on the $1,000 purchase after June 1 of year three.

4. Contingent or discretionary increases. Section 1026.55(b)(1) permits a card issuer to increase a temporary annual percentage rate, fee, or charge upon the expiration of a specified period of time. However, § 1026.55(b)(1) does not permit a card issuer to apply an increased rate, fee, or charge that is contingent on a particular event or occurrence or that may be applied at the card issuer's discretion. The following examples illustrate rate increases that are not permitted by § 1026.55:

i. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that a non-variable annual percentage rate of 15% applies to purchases but that all rates on an account may be increased to a non-variable penalty rate of 30% if a consumer's required minimum periodic payment is received after the payment due date, which is the fifteenth of the month. On March 1, the account has a $2,000 purchase balance. The payment due on March 15 is not received until March 20. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to apply the 30% penalty rate to the $2,000 purchase balance. However, pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3), the card issuer could provide a § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice on or before November 16 informing the consumer that, on January 1 of year two, the 30% rate (or a different rate) will apply to new transactions.

ii. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that a non-variable annual percentage rate of 5% applies to transferred balances but that this rate will increase to a non-variable rate of 18% if the consumer does not use the account for at least $200 in purchases each billing cycle. On July 1, the consumer transfers a balance of $4,000 to the account. During the October billing cycle, the consumer uses the account for $150 in purchases. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to apply the 18% rate to the $4,000 transferred balance or the $150 in purchases. However, pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3), the card issuer could provide a § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice on or before November 16 informing the consumer that, on January 1 of year two, the 18% rate (or a different rate) will apply to new transactions.

iii. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that the annual fee for the account is $10 but may be increased to $50 if a consumer's required minimum periodic payment is received after the payment due date, which is the fifteenth of the month. The payment due on July 15 is not received until July 23. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to impose the $50 annual fee at this time. Furthermore, § 1026.55(b)(3) does not permit the card issuer to increase the $10 annual fee during the first year after account opening. However, § 1026.55(b)(3) does permit the card issuer to impose the $50 fee (or a different fee) on January 1 of year two if, on or before November 16 of year one, the issuer informs the consumer of the increased fee consistent with § 1026.9(c) and the consumer does not reject that increase pursuant to § 1026.9(h).

iv. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that the annual fee for a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan is $0 but may be increased to $100 if the consumer's balance in a deposit account provided by the card issuer or its affiliate or subsidiary falls below $5,000. On June 1 of year one, the balance on the deposit account is $4,500. Section 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to impose the $100 annual fee at this time. Furthermore, § 1026.55(b)(3) does not permit the card issuer to increase the $0 annual fee during the first year after account opening. However, § 1026.55(b)(3) does permit the card issuer to impose the $100 fee (or a different fee) on January 1 of year two if, on or before November 16 of year one, the issuer informs the consumer of the increased fee consistent with § 1026.9(c) and the consumer does not reject that increase pursuant to § 1026.9(h).

5. Application of increased fees and charges. Section 1026.55(b)(1)(ii) limits the ability of a card issuer to apply an increased fee or charge to certain transactions. However, to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(3), (c), and (d), a card issuer generally is not prohibited from increasing a fee or charge that applies to the account as a whole. See comments 55(c)(1)-3 and 55(d)-1.

55(b)(2) Variable rate exception

1. Increases due to increase in index. Section 1026.55(b)(2) provides that an annual percentage rate that varies according to an index that is not under the card issuer's control and is available to the general public may be increased due to an increase in the index. This section does not permit a card issuer to increase the rate by changing the method used to determine a rate that varies with an index (such as by increasing the margin), even if that change will not result in an immediate increase. However, from time to time, a card issuer may change the day on which index values are measured to determine changes to the rate.

2. Index not under card issuer's control. A card issuer may increase a variable annual percentage rate pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(2) only if the increase is based on an index or indices outside the card issuer's control. For purposes of § 1026.55(b)(2), an index is under the card issuer's control if:

i. The index is the card issuer's own prime rate or cost of funds. A card issuer is permitted, however, to use a published prime rate, such as that in the Wall Street Journal, even if the card issuer's own prime rate is one of several rates used to establish the published rate.

ii. The variable rate is subject to a fixed minimum rate or similar requirement that does not permit the variable rate to decrease consistent with reductions in the index. A card issuer is permitted, however, to establish a fixed maximum rate that does not permit the variable rate to increase consistent with increases in an index. For example, assume that, under the terms of an account, a variable rate will be adjusted monthly by adding a margin of 5 percentage points to a publicly-available index. When the account is opened, the index is 10% and therefore the variable rate is 15%. If the terms of the account provide that the variable rate will not decrease below 15% even if the index decreases below 10%, the card issuer cannot increase that rate pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(2). However, § 1026.55(b)(2) does not prohibit the card issuer from providing in the terms of the account that the variable rate will not increase above a certain amount (such as 20%).

iii. The variable rate can be calculated based on any index value during a period of time (such as the 90 days preceding the last day of a billing cycle). A card issuer is permitted, however, to provide in the terms of the account that the variable rate will be calculated based on the average index value during a specified period. In the alternative, the card issuer is permitted to provide in the terms of the account that the variable rate will be calculated based on the index value on a specific day (such as the last day of a billing cycle). For example, assume that the terms of an account provide that a variable rate will be adjusted at the beginning of each quarter by adding a margin of 7 percentage points to a publicly-available index. At account opening at the beginning of the first quarter, the variable rate is 17% (based on an index value of 10%). During the first quarter, the index varies between 9.8% and 10.5% with an average value of 10.1%. On the last day of the first quarter, the index value is 10.2%. At the beginning of the second quarter, § 1026.55(b)(2) does not permit the card issuer to increase the variable rate to 17.5% based on the first quarter's maximum index value of 10.5%. However, if the terms of the account provide that the variable rate will be calculated based on the average index value during the prior quarter, § 1026.55(b)(2) permits the card issuer to increase the variable rate to 17.1% (based on the average index value of 10.1% during the first quarter). In the alternative, if the terms of the account provide that the variable rate will be calculated based on the index value on the last day of the prior quarter, § 1026.55(b)(2) permits the card issuer to increase the variable rate to 17.2% (based on the index value of 10.2% on the last day of the first quarter).

3. Publicly available. The index or indices must be available to the public. A publicly-available index need not be published in a newspaper, but it must be one the consumer can independently obtain (by telephone, for example) and use to verify the annual percentage rate applied to the account.

4. Changing a non-variable rate to a variable rate. Section 1026.55 generally prohibits a card issuer from changing a non-variable annual percentage rate to a variable annual percentage rate because such a change can result in an increase. However, a card issuer may change a non-variable rate to a variable rate to the extent permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b). For example, § 1026.55(b)(1) permits a card issuer to change a non-variable rate to a variable rate upon expiration of a specified period of time. Similarly, following the first year after the account is opened, § 1026.55(b)(3) permits a card issuer to change a non-variable rate to a variable rate with respect to new transactions (after complying with the notice requirements in § 1026.9(b), (c) or (g)).

5. Changing a variable rate to a non-variable rate. Nothing in § 1026.55 prohibits a card issuer from changing a variable annual percentage rate to an equal or lower non-variable rate. Whether the non-variable rate is equal to or lower than the variable rate is determined at the time the card issuer provides the notice required by § 1026.9(c). For example, assume that on March 1 a variable annual percentage rate that is currently 15% applies to a balance of $2,000 and the card issuer sends a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the variable rate will be converted to a non-variable rate of 14% effective April 15. On April 15, the card issuer may apply the 14% non-variable rate to the $2,000 balance and to new transactions even if the variable rate on March 2 or a later date was less than 14%.

6. Substitution of index. A card issuer may change the index and margin used to determine the annual percentage rate under § 1026.55(b)(2) if the original index becomes unavailable, as long as historical fluctuations in the original and replacement indices were substantially similar, and as long as the replacement index and margin will produce a rate similar to the rate that was in effect at the time the original index became unavailable. If the replacement index is newly established and therefore does not have any rate history, it may be used if it produces a rate substantially similar to the rate in effect when the original index became unavailable.

55(b)(3) Advance notice exception

1. Relationship to § 1026.9(h). A card issuer may not increase a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3) if the consumer has rejected the increased fee or charge pursuant to § 1026.9(h).

2. Notice provided pursuant to § 1026.9(b) and (c). If an increased annual percentage rate, fee, or charge is disclosed pursuant to both § 1026.9(b) and (c), that rate, fee, or charge may only be applied to transactions that occur more than 14 days after provision of the § 1026.9(c) notice as provided in § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii).

3. Account opening.

i. Multiple accounts with same card issuer.* When a consumer has a credit card account with a card issuer and the consumer opens a new credit card account with the same card issuer (or its affiliate or subsidiary), the opening of the new account constitutes the opening of a credit card account for purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) if, more than 30 days after the new account is opened, the consumer has the option to obtain additional extensions of credit on each account. For example, assume that, on January 1 of year one, a consumer opens a credit card account with a card issuer. On July 1 of year one, the consumer opens a second credit card account with that card issuer. On July 15, a $1,000 balance is transferred from the first account to the second account. The opening of the second account constitutes the opening of a credit card account for purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) so long as, on August 1, the consumer has the option to engage in transactions using either account. Under these circumstances, the card issuer could not increase an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) on the second account pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3) until July 1 of year two (which is one year after the second account was opened).

ii. Substitution, replacement or consolidation.

A. Generally. A credit card account has not been opened for purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) when a credit card account issued by a card issuer is substituted, replaced, or consolidated with another credit card account issued by the same card issuer (or its affiliate or subsidiary). Circumstances in which a credit card account has not been opened for purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) include when:

1. A retail credit card account is replaced with a cobranded general purpose credit card account that can be used at a wider number of merchants;

2. A credit card account is replaced with another credit card account offering different features;

3. A credit card account is consolidated or combined with one or more other credit card accounts into a single credit card account; or

4. A credit card account acquired through merger or acquisition is replaced with a credit card account issued by the acquiring card issuer.

B. Limitation. A card issuer that replaces or consolidates a credit card account with another credit card account issued by the card issuer (or its affiliate or subsidiary) may not increase an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) in a manner otherwise prohibited by § 1026.55. For example, assume that, on January 1 of year one, a consumer opens a credit card account with an annual percentage rate of 15% for purchases. On July 1 of year one, the account is replaced with a credit card account that offers different features (such as rewards on purchases). Under these circumstances, § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) prohibits the card issuer from increasing the annual percentage rate for new purchases to a rate that is higher than 15% pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3) until January 1 of year two (which is one year after the first account was opened).

4. Examples.

i. Change-in-terms rate increase; temporary rate increase; 14-day period.* Assume that an account is opened on January 1 of year one. On March 14 of year two, the account has a purchase balance of $2,000 at a non-variable annual percentage rate of 15%. On March 15, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the rate for new purchases will increase to a non-variable rate of 18% on May 1. The notice further states that the 18% rate will apply for six months (until November 1) and that thereafter the card issuer will apply a variable rate that is currently 22% and is determined by adding a margin of 12 percentage points to a publicly-available index that is not under the card issuer's control. The fourteenth day after provision of the notice is March 29 and, on that date, the consumer makes a $200 purchase. On March 30, the consumer makes a $1,000 purchase. On May 1, the card issuer may begin accruing interest at 18% on the $1,000 purchase made on March 30 (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3)). Section 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) does not permit the card issuer to apply the 18% rate to the $2,200 purchase balance as of March 29 because that balance reflects transactions that occurred prior to or within 14 days after the provision of the § 1026.9(c) notice. After six months (November 2), the card issuer may begin accruing interest on any remaining portion of the $1,000 purchase at the previously-disclosed variable rate determined using the 12-point margin (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1) and (b)(3)).

ii. Checks that access an account. Assume that a card issuer discloses at account opening on January 1 of year one that the annual percentage rate that applies to cash advances is a variable rate that is currently 24% and will be adjusted quarterly by adding a margin of 14 percentage points to a publicly available index not under the card issuer's control. On July 1 of year two, the card issuer provides checks that access the account and, pursuant to § 1026.9(b)(3)(i)(A), discloses that a promotional rate of 15% will apply to credit extended by use of the checks until January 1 of year three, after which the cash advance rate determined using the 14-point margin will apply. On July 9 of year two, the consumer uses one of the checks to pay for a $500 transaction. Beginning on January 1 of year three, the card issuer may apply the cash advance rate determined using the 14-point margin to any remaining portion of the $500 transaction (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1) and (b)(3)).

iii. Hold on available credit; 14-day period. Assume that an account is opened on January 1 of year one. On September 14 of year two, the account has a purchase balance of $2,000 at a non-variable annual percentage rate of 17%. On September 15, the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the rate for new purchases will increase to a non-variable rate of 20% on October 30. The fourteenth day after provision of the notice is September 29. On September 28, the consumer uses the credit card to check into a hotel and the hotel obtains authorization for a $1,000 hold on the account to ensure there is adequate available credit to cover the anticipated cost of the stay.

A. The consumer checks out of the hotel on October 2. The actual cost of the stay is $1,100 because of additional incidental costs. On October 2, the hotel charges the $1,100 transaction to the account. For purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3), the transaction occurred on October 2. Therefore, on October 30, § 1026.55(b)(3) permits the card issuer to apply the 20% rate to new purchases and to the $1,100 transaction. However, § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) does not permit the card issuer to apply the 20% rate to any remaining portion of the $2,000 purchase balance.

B. Same facts as above except that the consumer checks out of the hotel on September 29. The actual cost of the stay is $250, but the hotel does not charge this amount to the account until November 1. For purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3), the card issuer may treat the transaction as occurring more than 14 days after provision of the § 1026.9(c) notice (i.e., after September 29). Accordingly, the card issuer may apply the 20% rate to the $250 transaction.

5. Application of increased fees and charges. See comment 55(c)(1)-3.

6. Delayed implementation of increase. Section 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) does not prohibit a card issuer from notifying a consumer of an increase in an annual percentage rate, fee, or charge consistent with § 1026.9(b), (c), or (g). However, § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) does prohibit application of an increased rate, fee, or charge during the first year after the account is opened, while the account is closed, or while the card issuer does not permit the consumer to use the account for new transactions. If § 1026.9(b), (c), or (g) permits a card issuer to apply an increased rate, fee, or charge on a particular date and the account is closed on that date or the card issuer does not permit the consumer to use the account for new transactions on that date, the card issuer may delay application of the increased rate, fee, or charge until the first day of the following billing cycle without relinquishing the ability to apply that rate, fee, or charge (assuming the increase is otherwise consistent with § 1026.55). See examples in comment 55(b)-2.iii. However, if the account is closed or the card issuer does not permit the consumer to use the account for new transactions on the first day of the following billing cycle, then the card issuer must provide a new notice of the increased rate, fee, or charge consistent with § 1026.9(b), (c), or (g).

7. Date on which account may first be used by consumer to engage in transactions. For purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii), an account is considered open no earlier than the date on which the account may first be used by the consumer to engage in transactions. An account is considered open for purposes of § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) on any date that the card issuer may consider the account open for purposes of § 1026.52(a)(1). See comment 52(a)(1)-4.

55(b)(4) Delinquency exception

1. Receipt of required minimum periodic payment within 60 days of due date. Section 1026.55(b)(4) applies when a card issuer has not received the consumer's required minimum periodic payment within 60 days after the due date for that payment. In order to satisfy this condition, a card issuer that requires monthly minimum payments generally must not have received two consecutive required minimum periodic payments. Whether a required minimum periodic payment has been received for purposes of § 1026.55(b)(4) depends on whether the amount received is equal to or more than the first outstanding required minimum periodic payment. For example, assume that the required minimum periodic payments for a credit card account are due on the fifteenth day of the month. On May 13, the card issuer has not received the $50 required minimum periodic payment due on March 15 or the $150 required minimum periodic payment due on April 15. The sixtieth day after the March 15 payment due date is May 14. If the card issuer receives a $50 payment on May 14, § 1026.55(b)(4) does not apply because the payment is equal to the required minimum periodic payment due on March 15 and therefore the account is not more than 60 days delinquent. However, if the card issuer instead received a $40 payment on May 14, § 1026.55(b)(4) would apply beginning on May 15 because the payment is less than the required minimum periodic payment due on March 15. Furthermore, if the card issuer received the $50 payment on May 15, § 1026.55(b)(4) would apply because the card issuer did not receive the required minimum periodic payment due on March 15 within 60 days after the due date for that payment.

2. Relationship to § 1026.9(g)(3)(i)(B). A card issuer that has complied with the disclosure requirements in § 1026.9(g)(3)(i)(B) has also complied with the disclosure requirements in § 1026.55(b)(4)(i).

3. Reduction in rate pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii). Section 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) provides that, if the card issuer receives six consecutive required minimum periodic payments on or before the payment due date beginning with the first payment due following the effective date of the increase, the card issuer must reduce any annual percentage rate, fee, or charge increased pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(4) to the annual percentage rate, fee, or charge that applied prior to the increase with respect to transactions that occurred prior to or within 14 days after provision of the § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice.

i. Six consecutive payments immediately following effective date of increase. Section 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) does not apply if the card issuer does not receive six consecutive required minimum periodic payments on or before the payment due date beginning with the payment due immediately following the effective date of the increase, even if, at some later point in time, the card issuer receives six consecutive required minimum periodic payments on or before the payment due date.

ii. Rate, fee, or charge that does not exceed rate, fee, or charge that applied before increase. Although § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to reduce an annual percentage rate, fee, or charge increased pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(4) to the annual percentage rate, fee, or charge that applied prior to the increase, this provision does not prohibit the card issuer from applying an increased annual percentage rate, fee, or charge consistent with any of the other exceptions in § 1026.55(b). For example, if a temporary rate applied prior to the § 1026.55(b)(4) increase and the temporary rate expired before a reduction in rate pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii), the card issuer may apply an increased rate to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1). Similarly, if a variable rate applied prior to the § 1026.55(b)(4) increase, the card issuer may apply any increase in that variable rate to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(2).

iii. Delayed implementation of reduction. If § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires a card issuer to reduce an annual percentage rate, fee, or charge on a date that is not the first day of a billing cycle, the card issuer may delay application of the reduced rate, fee, or charge until the first day of the following billing cycle.

iv. Examples. The following examples illustrate the application of § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii):

A. Assume that the billing cycles for an account begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month and that the required minimum periodic payments are due on the fifteenth day of the month. Assume also that the account has a $5,000 purchase balance to which a non-variable annual percentage rate of 15% applies. On May 16 of year one, the card issuer has not received the required minimum periodic payments due on the fifteenth day of March, April, or May and sends a § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice stating that the annual percentage rate applicable to the $5,000 balance and to new transactions will increase to 28% effective July 1. On July 1, § 1026.55(b)(4) permits the card issuer to apply the 28% rate to the $5,000 balance and to new transactions. The card issuer receives the required minimum periodic payments due on the fifteenth day of July, August, September, October, November, and December. On January 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to reduce the rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $5,000 balance to 15%. The card issuer is not required to reduce the rate that applies to any transactions that occurred on or after May 31 (which is the fifteenth day after provision of the § 1026.9(c) or (g) notice).

B. Same facts as paragraph iv.A above except that the 15% rate that applied to the $5,000 balance prior to the § 1026.55(b)(4) increase was scheduled to increase to 20% on August 1 of year one (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)). On January 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to reduce the rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $5,000 balance to 20%.

C. Same facts as paragraph iv.A above except that the 15% rate that applied to the $5,000 balance prior to the § 1026.55(b)(4) increase was scheduled to increase to 20% on March 1 of year two (pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(1)). On January 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to reduce the rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $5,000 balance to 15%.

D. Same facts as paragraph iv.A above except that the 15% rate that applied to the $5,000 balance prior to the § 1026.55(b)(4) increase was a variable rate that was determined by adding a margin of 10 percentage points to a publicly-available index not under the card issuer's control (consistent with § 1026.55(b)(2)). On January 1 of year two, § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) requires the card issuer to reduce the rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $5,000 balance to the variable rate determined using the 10-point margin.

E. For an example of the application of § 1026.55(b)(4)(ii) to deferred interest or similar programs, see comment 55(b)(1)-3.ii.C.

55(b)(5) Workout and temporary hardship arrangement exception

1. Scope of exception. Nothing in § 1026.55(b)(5) permits a card issuer to alter the requirements of § 1026.55 pursuant to a workout or temporary hardship arrangement. For example, a card issuer cannot increase an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) pursuant to a workout or temporary hardship arrangement unless otherwise permitted by § 1026.55. In addition, a card issuer cannot require the consumer to make payments with respect to a protected balance that exceed the payments permitted under § 1026.55(c).

2. Relationship to § 1026.9(c)(2)(v)(D). A card issuer that has complied with the disclosure requirements in § 1026.9(c)(2)(v)(D) has also complied with the disclosure requirements in § 1026.55(b)(5)(i). See comment 9(c)(2)(v)-10. Thus, although the disclosures required by § 1026.55(b)(5)(i) must generally be provided in writing prior to commencement of the arrangement, a card issuer may comply with § 1026.55(b)(5)(i) by complying with § 1026.9(c)(2)(v)(D), which states that the disclosure of the terms of the arrangement may be made orally by telephone, provided that the card issuer mails or delivers a written disclosure of the terms of the arrangement to the consumer as soon as reasonably practicable after the oral disclosure is provided.

3. Rate, fee, or charge that does not exceed rate, fee, or charge that applied before workout or temporary hardship arrangement. Upon the completion or failure of a workout or temporary hardship arrangement, § 1026.55(b)(5)(ii) prohibits the card issuer from applying to any transactions that occurred prior to commencement of the arrangement an annual percentage rate, fee, or charge that exceeds the annual percentage rate, fee, or charge that applied to those transactions prior to commencement of the arrangement. However, this provision does not prohibit the card issuer from applying an increased annual percentage rate, fee, or charge upon completion or failure of the arrangement, to the extent consistent with any of the other exceptions in § 1026.55(b). For example, if a temporary rate applied prior to the arrangement and that rate expired during the arrangement, the card issuer may apply an increased rate upon completion or failure of the arrangement to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1). Similarly, if a variable rate applied prior to the arrangement, the card issuer may apply any increase in that variable rate upon completion or failure of the arrangement to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(2).

4. Examples.

i. Assume that an account is subject to a $50 annual fee and that, consistent with § 1026.55(b)(4), the margin used to determine a variable annual percentage rate that applies to a $5,000 balance is increased from 5 percentage points to 15 percentage points. Assume also that the card issuer and the consumer subsequently agree to a workout arrangement that reduces the annual fee to $0 and reduces the margin back to 5 points on the condition that the consumer pay a specified amount by the payment due date each month. If the consumer does not pay the agreed-upon amount by the payment due date, § 1026.55(b)(5) permits the card issuer to increase the annual fee to $50 and increase the margin for the variable rate that applies to the $5,000 balance up to 15 percentage points.

ii. Assume that a consumer fails to make four consecutive monthly minimum payments totaling $480 on a consumer credit card account with a balance of $6,000 and that, consistent with § 1026.55(b)(4), the annual percentage rate that applies to that balance is increased from a non-variable rate of 15% to a non-variable penalty rate of 30%. Assume also that the card issuer and the consumer subsequently agree to a temporary hardship arrangement that reduces all rates on the account to 0% on the condition that the consumer pay an amount by the payment due date each month that is sufficient to cure the $480 delinquency within six months. If the consumer pays the agreed-upon amount by the payment due date during the six-month period and cures the delinquency, § 1026.55(b)(5) permits the card issuer to increase the rate that applies to any remaining portion of the $6,000 balance to 15% or any other rate up to the 30% penalty rate.

55(b)(6) Servicemembers Civil Relief Act exception

1. Rate, fee, or charge that does not exceed rate, fee, or charge that applied before decrease. When a rate or a fee or charge subject to § 1026.55 has been decreased pursuant to 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or a similar Federal or state statute or regulation, § 1026.55(b)(6) permits the card issuer to increase the rate, fee, or charge once 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or the similar statute or regulation no longer applies. However, § 1026.55(b)(6) prohibits the card issuer from applying to any transactions that occurred prior to the decrease a rate, fee, or charge that exceeds the rate, fee, or charge that applied to those transactions prior to the decrease (except to the extent permitted by one of the other exceptions in § 1026.55(b)). For example, if a temporary rate applied prior to a decrease in rate pursuant to 50 U.S.C. app. 527 and the temporary rate expired during the period that 50 U.S.C. app. 527 applied to the account, the card issuer may apply an increased rate once 50 U.S.C. app. 527 no longer applies to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1). Similarly, if a variable rate applied prior to a decrease in rate pursuant to 50 U.S.C. app. 527, the card issuer may apply any increase in that variable rate once 50 U.S.C. app. 527 no longer applies to the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(2).

2. Decreases in rates, fees, and charges to amounts consistent with 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or similar statute or regulation. If a card issuer deceases an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge subject to § 1026.55 pursuant to 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or a similar Federal or state statute or regulation and if the card issuer also decreases other rates, fees, or charges (such as the rate that applies to new transactions) to amounts that are consistent with 50 U.S.C. app. 527 or a similar Federal or state statute or regulation, the card issuer may increase those rates, fees, and charges consistent with § 1026.55(b)(6).

3. Example. Assume that on December 31 of year one the annual percentage rate that applies to a $5,000 balance on a credit card account is a variable rate that is determined by adding a margin of 10 percentage points to a publicly-available index that is not under the card issuer's control. The account is also subject to a monthly maintenance fee of $10. On January 1 of year two, the card issuer reduces the rate that applies to the $5,000 balance to a non-variable rate of 6% and ceases to impose the $10 monthly maintenance fee and other fees (including late payment fees) pursuant to 50 U.S.C. app. 527. The card issuer also decreases the rate that applies to new transactions to 6%. During year two, the consumer uses the account for $1,000 in new transactions. On January 1 of year three, 50 U.S.C. app. 527 ceases to apply and the card issuer provides a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that on February 15 of year three the variable rate determined using the 10-point margin will apply to any remaining portion of the $5,000 balance and to any remaining portion of the $1,000 balance. The notice also states that the $10 monthly maintenance fee and other fees (including late payment fees) will resume on February 15 of year three. Consistent with § 1026.9(c)(2)(iv)(B), the card issuer is not required to provide a right to reject in these circumstances. On February 15 of year three, § 1026.55(b)(6) permits the card issuer to begin accruing interest on any remaining portion of the $5,000 and $1,000 balances at the variable rate determined using the 10-point margin and to resume imposing the $10 monthly maintenance fee and other fees (including late payment fees).

55(c) Treatment of protected balances

55(c)(1) Definition of protected balance

1. Example of protected balance. Assume that, on March 15 of year two, an account has a purchase balance of $1,000 at a non-variable annual percentage rate of 12% and that, on March 16, the card issuer sends a notice pursuant to § 1026.9(c) informing the consumer that the annual percentage rate for new purchases will increase to a non-variable rate of 15% on May 1. The fourteenth day after provision of the notice is March 29. On March 29, the consumer makes a $100 purchase. On March 30, the consumer makes a $150 purchase. On May 1, § 1026.55(b)(3)(ii) permits the card issuer to begin accruing interest at 15% on the $150 purchase made on March 30 but does not permit the card issuer to apply that 15% rate to the $1,100 purchase balance as of March 29. Accordingly, the protected balance for purposes of § 1026.55(c) is the $1,100 purchase balance as of March 29. The $150 purchase made on March 30 is not part of the protected balance.

2. First year after account opening. Section 1026.55(c) applies to amounts owed for a category of transactions to which an increased annual percentage rate or an increased fee or charge cannot be applied after the rate, fee, or charge for that category of transactions has been increased pursuant to § 1026.55(b)(3). Because § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii) does not permit a card issuer to increase an annual percentage rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) during the first year after account opening, § 1026.55(c) does not apply to balances during the first year after account opening.

3. Increased fees and charges. Except as provided in § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii), § 1026.55(b)(3) permits a card issuer to increase a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) after complying with the applicable notice requirements in § 1026.9(b) or (c), provided that the increased fee or charge is not applied to a protected balance. To the extent consistent with § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii), a card issuer is not prohibited from increasing a fee or charge that applies to the account as a whole or to balances other than the protected balance. For example, after the first year following account opening, a card issuer generally may add or increase an annual or a monthly maintenance fee for an account after complying with the notice requirements in § 1026.9(c), including notifying the consumer of the right to reject the new or increased fee under § 1026.9(h). However, except as otherwise provided in § 1026.55(b), an increased fee or charge cannot be applied to an account while the account is closed or while the card issuer does not permit the consumer to use the account for new transactions. See § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii); see also §§ 1026.52(b)(2)(i)(B)(3) and 1026.55(d)(1). Furthermore, if the consumer rejects an increase in a fee or charge pursuant to § 1026.9(h), the card issuer is prohibited from applying the increased fee or charge to the account and from imposing any other fee or charge solely as a result of the rejection. See § 1026.9(h)(2)(i) and (ii); comment 9(h)(2)(ii)-2.

4. Changing balance computation method. Nothing in § 1026.55 prohibits a card issuer from changing the balance computation method that applies to new transactions as well as protected balances.

55(c)(2) Repayment of protected balance

1. No less beneficial to the consumer. A card issuer may provide a method of repaying the protected balance that is different from the methods listed in § 1026.55(c)(2) so long as the method used is no less beneficial to the consumer than one of the listed methods. A method is no less beneficial to the consumer if the method results in a required minimum periodic payment that is equal to or less than a minimum payment calculated using the method for the account before the effective date of the increase. Similarly, a method is no less beneficial to the consumer if the method amortizes the balance in five years or longer or if the method results in a required minimum periodic payment that is equal to or less than a minimum payment calculated consistent with § 1026.55(c)(2)(iii). For example:

i. If at account opening the cardholder agreement stated that the required minimum periodic payment would be either the total of fees and interest charges plus 1% of the total amount owed or $20 (whichever is greater), the card issuer may require the consumer to make a minimum payment of $20 even if doing so would pay off the balance in less than five years or constitute more than 2% of the balance plus fees and interest charges.

ii. A card issuer could increase the percentage of the balance included in the required minimum periodic payment from 2% to 5% so long as doing so would not result in amortization of the balance in less than five years.

iii. A card issuer could require the consumer to make a required minimum periodic payment that amortizes the balance in four years so long as doing so would not more than double the percentage of the balance included in the minimum payment prior to the date on which the increased annual percentage rate, fee, or charge became effective.

Paragraph 55(c)(2)(ii)

1. Amortization period starting from effective date of increase. Section 1026.55(c)(2)(ii) provides for an amortization period for the protected balance of no less than five years, starting from the date on which the increased annual percentage rate or fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii) became effective. A card issuer is not required to recalculate the required minimum periodic payment for the protected balance if, during the amortization period, that balance is reduced as a result of the allocation of payments by the consumer in excess of that minimum payment consistent with § 1026.53 or any other practice permitted by these rules and other applicable law.

2. Amortization when applicable rate is variable. If the annual percentage rate that applies to the protected balance varies with an index, the card issuer may adjust the interest charges included in the required minimum periodic payment for that balance accordingly in order to ensure that the balance is amortized in five years. For example, assume that a variable rate that is currently 15% applies to a protected balance and that, in order to amortize that balance in five years, the required minimum periodic payment must include a specific amount of principal plus all accrued interest charges. If the 15% variable rate increases due to an increase in the index, the creditor may increase the required minimum periodic payment to include the additional interest charges.

Paragraph 55(c)(2)(iii)

1. Portion of required minimum periodic payment on other balances. Section 1026.55(c)(2)(iii) addresses the portion of the required minimum periodic payment based on the protected balance. Section 1026.55(c)(2)(iii) does not limit or otherwise address the card issuer's ability to determine the portion of the required minimum periodic payment based on other balances on the account or the card issuer's ability to apply that portion of the minimum payment to the balances on the account.

2. Example. Assume that the method used by a card issuer to calculate the required minimum periodic payment for a credit card account requires the consumer to pay either the total of fees and accrued interest charges plus 2% of the total amount owed or $50, whichever is greater. Assume also that the account has a purchase balance of $2,000 at an annual percentage rate of 15% and a cash advance balance of $500 at an annual percentage rate of 20% and that the card issuer increases the rate for purchases to 18% but does not increase the rate for cash advances. Under § 1026.55(c)(2)(iii), the card issuer may require the consumer to pay fees and interest plus 4% of the $2,000 purchase balance. Section 1026.55(c)(2)(iii) does not limit the card issuer's ability to increase the portion of the required minimum periodic payment that is based on the cash advance balance.

55(d) Continuing application

1. Closed accounts. If a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan with a balance is closed, § 1026.55 continues to apply to that balance. For example, if a card issuer or a consumer closes a credit card account with a balance, § 1026.55(d)(1) prohibits the card issuer from increasing the annual percentage rate that applies to that balance or imposing a periodic fee based solely on that balance that was not charged before the account was closed (such as a closed account fee) unless permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b).

2. Acquired accounts. If, through merger or acquisition (for example), a card issuer acquires a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan with a balance, § 1026.55 continues to apply to that balance. For example, if a credit card account has a $1,000 purchase balance with an annual percentage rate of 15% and the card issuer that acquires that account applies an 18% rate to purchases, § 1026.55(d)(1) prohibits the card issuer from applying the 18% rate to the $1,000 balance unless permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b).

3. Balance transfers.

i. Between accounts issued by the same creditor. If a balance is transferred from a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan issued by a creditor to another credit account issued by the same creditor or its affiliate or subsidiary, § 1026.55 continues to apply to that balance. For example, if a credit card account has a $2,000 purchase balance with an annual percentage rate of 15% and that balance is transferred to another credit card account issued by the same creditor that applies an 18% rate to purchases, § 1026.55(d)(2) prohibits the creditor from applying the 18% rate to the $2,000 balance unless permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b). However, the creditor would not generally be prohibited from charging a new periodic fee (such as an annual fee) on the second account so long as the fee is not based solely on the $2,000 balance and the creditor has notified the consumer of the fee either by providing written notice 45 days before imposing the fee pursuant to § 1026.9(c) or by providing account-opening disclosures pursuant to § 1026.6(b). See also § 1026.55(b)(3)(iii); comment 55(b)(3)-3; comment 5(b)(1)(i)-6. Additional circumstances in which a balance is considered transferred for purposes of § 1026.55(d)(2) include when:

A. A retail credit card account with a balance is replaced or substituted with a cobranded general purpose credit card account that can be used with a broader merchant base;

B. A credit card account with a balance is replaced or substituted with another credit card account offering different features;

C. A credit card account with a balance is consolidated or combined with one or more other credit card accounts into a single credit card account; and

D. A credit card account is replaced or substituted with a line of credit that can be accessed solely by an account number.

ii. Between accounts issued by different creditors. If a balance is transferred to a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan issued by a creditor from a credit card account issued by a different creditor or an institution that is not an affiliate or subsidiary of the creditor that issued the account to which the balance is transferred, § 1026.55(d)(2) does not prohibit the creditor to which the balance is transferred from applying its account terms to that balance, provided that those terms comply with this part. For example, if a credit card account issued by creditor A has a $1,000 purchase balance at an annual percentage rate of 15% and the consumer transfers that balance to a credit card account with a purchase rate of 17% issued by creditor B, creditor B may apply the 17% rate to the $1,000 balance. However, creditor B may not subsequently increase the rate on that balance unless permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b).

55(e) Promotional waivers or rebates of interest, fees, and other charges

1. Generally. Nothing in § 1026.55 prohibits a card issuer from waiving or rebating finance charges due to a periodic interest rate or a fee or charge required to be disclosed under § 1026.6(b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii), or (b)(2)(xii). However, if a card issuer promotes and applies the waiver or rebate to an account, the card issuer cannot temporarily or permanently cease or terminate any portion of the waiver or rebate on that account unless permitted by one of the exceptions in § 1026.55(b). For example:

i. A card issuer applies an annual percentage rate of 15% to balance transfers but promotes a program under which all of the interest accrued on transferred balances will be waived or rebated for one year. If, prior to the commencement of the one-year period, the card issuer discloses the length of the period and the annual percentage rate that will apply to transferred balances after expiration of that period consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1)(i), § 1026.55(b)(1) permits the card issuer to begin imposing interest charges on transferred balances after one year. Furthermore, if, during the one-year period, a required minimum periodic payment is not received within 60 days of the payment due date, § 1026.55(b)(4) permits the card issuer to begin imposing interest charges on transferred balances (after providing a notice consistent with § 1026.9(g) and § 1026.55(b)(4)(i)). However, if a required minimum periodic payment is not more than 60 days delinquent or if the consumer otherwise violates the terms or other requirements of the account, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to begin imposing interest charges on transferred balances until the expiration of the one-year period.

ii. A card issuer imposes a monthly maintenance fee of $10 but promotes a program under which the fee will be waived or rebated for the six months following account opening. If, prior to account opening, the card issuer discloses the length of the period and the monthly maintenance fee that will be imposed after expiration of that period consistent with § 1026.55(b)(1)(i), § 1026.55(b)(1) permits the card issuer to begin imposing the monthly maintenance fee six months after account opening. Furthermore, if, during the six-month period, a required minimum periodic payment is not received within 60 days of the payment due date, § 1026.55(b)(4) permits the card issuer to begin imposing the monthly maintenance fee (after providing a notice consistent with § 1026.9(c) and § 1026.55(b)(4)(i)). However, if a required minimum periodic payment is not more than 60 days delinquent or if the consumer otherwise violates the terms or other requirements of the account, § 1026.55 does not permit the card issuer to begin imposing the monthly maintenance fee until the expiration of the six-month period.

2. Promotion of waiver or rebate. For purposes of § 1026.55(e), a card issuer generally promotes a waiver or rebate if the card issuer discloses the waiver or rebate in an advertisement (as defined in § 1026.2(a)(2)). See comment 2(a)(2)-1. In addition, a card issuer generally promotes a waiver or rebate for purposes of § 1026.55(e) if the card issuer discloses the waiver or rebate in communications regarding existing accounts (such as communications regarding a promotion that encourages additional or different uses of an existing account). However, a card issuer does not promote a waiver or rebate for purposes of § 1026.55(e) if the advertisement or communication relates to an inquiry or dispute about a specific charge or to interest, fees, or charges that have already been waived or rebated.

i. Examples of promotional communications. The following are examples of circumstances in which a card issuer is promoting a waiver or rebate for purposes of § 1026.55(e):

A. A card issuer discloses the waiver or rebate in a newspaper, magazine, leaflet, promotional flyer, catalog, sign, or point-of-sale display, unless the disclosure relates to interest, fees, or charges that have already been waived.

B. A card issuer discloses the waiver or rebate on radio or television or through electronic advertisements (such as on the Internet), unless the disclosure relates to interest, fees, or charges that have already been waived or rebated.

C. A card issuer discloses a waiver or rebate to individual consumers, such as by telephone, letter, or electronic communication, through direct mail literature, or on or with account statements, unless the disclosure relates to an inquiry or dispute about a specific charge or to interest, fees, or charges that have already been waived or rebated.

ii. Examples of non-promotional communications. The following are examples of circumstances in which a card issuer is not promoting a waiver or rebate for purposes of § 1026.55(e):

A. After a card issuer has waived or rebated interest, fees, or other charges subject to § 1026.55 with respect to an account, the issuer discloses the waiver or rebate to the accountholder on the periodic statement or by telephone, letter, or electronic communication. However, if the card issuer also discloses prospective waivers or rebates in the same communication, the issuer is promoting a waiver or rebate for purposes of § 1026.55(e).

B. A card issuer communicates with a consumer about a waiver or rebate of interest, fees, or other charges subject to § 1026.55 in relation to an inquiry or dispute about a specific charge, including a dispute under §§ 1026.12 or 1026.13.

C. A card issuer waives or rebates interest, fees, or other charges subject to § 1026.55 in order to comply with a legal requirement (such as the limitations in § 1026.52(a)).

D. A card issuer discloses a grace period, as defined in § 1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(3).

E. A card issuer provides a period after the payment due date during which interest, fees, or other charges subject to § 1026.55 are waived or rebated even if a payment has not been received.

F. A card issuer provides benefits (such as rewards points or cash back on purchases or finance charges) that can be applied to the account as credits, provided that the benefits are not promoted as reducing interest, fees, or other charges subject to § 1026.55.

3. Relationship of § 1026.55(e) to grace period. Section 1026.55(e) does not apply to the waiver of finance charges due to a periodic rate consistent with a grace period, as defined in § 1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(3).