$8 cap on credit card late fees on hold — what it means for you

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on December 15, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Shen Ting | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. banking industry has scored a major victory in blocking implementation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that would significantly limit the fees credit card companies can charge for late payments.

Late Friday, a federal court approved the industry's last-minute legal effort to suspend a rule announced in March that would take effect on Tuesday.

In his order, Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas sided with plaintiffs, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in their lawsuit against the CFPB, saying they had cleared a roadblock in arguing for a preliminary injunction freezing the rule.

For now at least, the outcome preserves a key revenue source for the U.S. credit card industry. The CFPB estimates that this rule will save American households behind on their bills $10 billion annually. It would cap late fees that are typically $32 per incident to $8 per incident and limit the industry's ability to raise fees.

It's unclear when or if the new rules will take effect.

“If the rule is delayed, consumers will be responsible for $800 million in late fees each month, money that could boost profit margins for the largest credit card issuers,” a CFPB spokesperson told CNBC on Friday.

The industry's lawsuit is aimed at blocking a regulation “that would continue to make tens of billions of dollars in profits by charging borrowers late fees that far exceed their actual costs,” a spokesman said.

“We are disappointed that the court sided with House Republicans, big banks and special interests in halting a key effort to save American families billions in garbage bills,” White House spokesman Jeremy Edwards said in an emailed statement. Measures. “President Biden stands on the side of middle-class families by cracking down on corporate fraud. That's why he supports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rule to cut exorbitant credit card late fees. “

The CFPB says the industry has profited over the past decade by charging higher overdue penalties to borrowers with lower credit scores, while trade groups argue the fee cap is a misguided effort to redistribute costs. To those who pay their bills on time.

The Consumer Bankers Association, one of the groups suing the CFPB, said it was “pleased by the district court's decision to grant a preliminary injunction to prevent the CFPB's credit card late fee rule from taking effect next week.”

The CBA said it would continue to pursue court action to explain why the CFPB's rules should be “completely repealed.”

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