Bureau proposes more participants, data in yearly survey of credit card issuers

An expansion of the types of companies represented and in the data collected in its yearly survey of credit-card issuers has been issued by the federal consumer financial protection agency with a public comment deadline of Oct. 17.

The proposed renewal and expansion of the annual “Report of Terms of Credit Card Plans (Form FR 2572) and Consumer and College Credit Card Agreements,” announced in a Federal Register notice last week, was detailed further in a blog post by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The yearly survey, conducted under the Truth in Lending Act (as revised by the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or CARD Act), must include at least 150 financial institutions that offer credit cards; issuers are required to submit data on the product they offer having the largest number of accounts. The CFPB said it is proposing expansion so it can publish data that is more meaningful to consumers shopping for cards.

One of the key changes noted in the bureau’s recent blog post is a proposal to allow more entities to participate in the survey. The bureau’s information collection notice anticipates 615 survey participants.

Other possible changes noted include:

Collecting median rates by credit score tiers: The bureau noted that many consumers may be discouraged from applying for a card – a step often necessary to learn the specific rate they’d be charged – because of the hard credit inquiry it would trigger. One of the changes being considered for the yearly survey of card issuers would be to require selected issuers to submit data on the median APR offered to consumers in three broad credit score tiers.

Gathering information on credit cards available to specific communities or groups: The bureau proposes to expand the issuers included in the survey to include institutions like regional banks and credit unions, which only offer credit cards to people in particular communities or with specific affiliations. “These institutions may offer better rates than the top issuers, but often do not advertise as widely as the biggest players,” the bureau said. The agency said that by collecting and disclosing information on requirements for opening these types of accounts, “we could help consumers see if they’re eligible for certain products and offer a free platform for local organizations focused on relationship banking to find customers.”

Requiring the biggest issuers to submit information about more credit cards: The bureau is looking at requiring the top 25 issuers to submit data on each of their general purpose credit cards. “The top issuers represent the vast majority of the credit card market, and many of them offer dozens of products,” it said. “Each of these credit cards typically offers a different combination of rates, fees, and rewards.”

The bureau said other institutions selected for the sample would continue to be required to report on one product but could submit more information if they wish.

The bureau calls the current comment request a “first step” in a plan to update the survey and make it “a more useful resource on credit card price and availability for consumers.” It said public input on other ways to improve the survey, or reduce its burden on issuers, “will help shape our next steps.”

Blog post: Why we’re modernizing how we collect credit card data

Federal Register notice