Consumer protection attorneys defending clients in credit card collection lawsuits often need to analyze the terms and conditions for the credit card. Section 204 of the Credit Card Act of 2009 requires each creditor to
establish and maintain an Internet site on which the creditor shall post the written agreement between the creditor and the consumer for each credit card account under an open-end consumer credit plan. 15 U.S.C. § 1632(d)(1). While this is helpful for finding the current terms and conditions, most credit card collection cases involve older accounts. Because very few consumers keep copies of the their credit card agreements, it can be difficult to verify a debt collector's claims. So where can you find this information for older card accounts?
The CFPB Credit Card Agreement Database contains the general terms and conditions for over 500 different credit card of more than 300 credit card issuers. The searchable database includes credit card agreements as of December 31, 2014. For earlier agreements, the website has downloadable archive files containing card agreements as far back as Q3 2011. The Bureau staff collected agreements as of January 2016 from the websites of the largest credit card issuers in a separate archive file. While these archives are not complete, they contain hundreds of account agreements for the most common credit cards.
Keep in mind that the agreements in the CFPB database show the general terms and conditions, pricing, and fee information for the type of card issued. The Credit CARD Act requires creditors to send copies of the credit card agreements to the CFPB; however, the creditor does not have to provide individually negotiated changes to contractual terms, such as individually modified workouts or renegotiations of amounts owed by a consumer under an open end consumer credit plan.16 U.S.C. § 1632(d)(4).
To get information and terms specific to the account of an individual consumer, you may have to contact the card issuer. By law, the issuer must make your agreement available to you upon request.
The database contains both PDF and text files of each agreement for download. Because the database includes text files, you can run a text search for specific language in the agreements. With this resources, you can find and compare arbitration clauses or class action waiver language in various card agreements.
The database includes agreements from some of the more obscure card issuers. Looking for the Zales Account Agreement for cards issued by Mid America Bank and Trust Company in Dixon, Missouri in 2014? It's there! San Mateo Credit Union credit card application? Got it! With the archives going back to 2011, you can also analyze changes made by an issuer to particular cards over the past few years.
The CFPB also collects information annually from credit card issuers who have marketing agreements with universities, colleges, or affiliated organizations such as alumni associations, sororities, fraternities, and foundations. You can download agreements for these cards going back to 2011 here.
Be sure to check out other resources available at the CFPB.