Cardholder Rights and Obligations

Credit and debit cards provide consumers with a series of cardholder rights and obligations. Local law may add certain rights and obligations as well.

Consumers enjoy the following rights related to their use of credit cards and debit cards:

  1. Regular notification of charges made.
  2. Timely credit when you pay up.
  3. Credit balance refunds.
  4. Oversight resolutions.
  5. Elimination of unauthorized expenses.
  6. Dispute resolution.
  7. On-time shipment.
  8. Rejection of delivery.
  9. Refusal to pay when there is a dispute.
  10. Safeguards against offensive calls and junk mail.

Know the Law

As a consumer, the law provides you with certain additional rights and obligations. That applies irrespective of whatever you use a credit card or some other payment method to make a purchase. Familiarize yourself with your country’s laws on the subject. In the United States, for example, the Federal Trade Commission is the agency charged with the responsibility to defend cardholder rights and obligations. It advises consumers to learn how to use their credit cards safely to avoid problems.

Cardholder Rights and Obligations: On-Time Payment

Paying your bills promptly is very important. This will prevent late fees and other extra financial charges. Your bank must record your payment on the day the payment was received, with the following exceptions:

  • You must make the payments as per agreed requirements.  Your issuer may expect payment before a set cut-off time.
  • The card issuer may demand you pay with a stub or that you provide an account number.
  • In the event your bill contains an error, you have the right to challenge that charge and refuse to pay it until the issuing bank has fully investigated and resolved the matter.  A mistaken charge may be due to undelivered items, an incorrect amount or a product or service you did not order. You must, however, pay any undisputed amount on the bill and other costs that are unrelated to the amount in dispute.

Cardholder Rights and Obligations: Illegal Charges

The law may hold you responsible for a maximum payment if your credit or debit card was used unlawfully.  In the United States, that amount is fixed at $50. However, if you reported the card theft or loss before it was used, you will be under no obligation to pay for any unlawful charges that result. If someone used your card number illegally but not the card itself, you are not under any obligation to pay for unauthorized charges.

Reporting a loss as soon as it occurs minimizes your liability.  Many credit card companies offer toll-free phone numbers for call centers manned 24/7 to enable you to contact them around the clock.

It is worthwhile to write to the issuing bank to follow-up on a lost or stolen card. Remember to include your account number, the date you realized that your card was missing and when you reported the loss.