White House says opposes House credit card bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Monday it opposes legislation called “the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights” that would curb unfair and deceptive credit card practices, saying it would constrain banks’ ability to price risk.

The White House said in a statement the bill would lead to less access to credit and higher interest rates for consumers.

“For the credit market to operate efficiently, creditors must have the flexibility to react to changes in customer risk and market conditions,” the White House said.

The provision “would restrict when lenders may change terms of the credit agreement, significantly constraining the ability of financial institutions to adapt to changing credit risks and market conditions,” the White House said.

The legislation is in the House of Representatives. The full House is expected to pass the bill, but similar legislation is not expected to progress in the Senate due to preoccupation with the financial crisis and U.S. presidential election.

The bill, chiefly sponsored by New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, is similar to proposed regulations the Federal Reserve is reviewing and expected to finalize later this year.

Banks, reeling from the collapse of the U.S. housing and subprime mortgage markets and subsequent credit crisis, oppose the bill, which could limit their credit card revenue.

The bill would end double-cycle billing, in which card companies reach back to prior billing cycles to help calculate the interest charged in the current cycle.

It also seeks to give cardholders more time to pay by forcing card companies to mail bills 25 days before the due date instead of the current 14 days.

Among the biggest issuers of Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc credit cards are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One Financial Corp and Discover Financial Services.

The White House said it was concerned about unfair and deceptive practices and supports efforts to protect consumers, but added that regulations are better suited to address the issues instead of legislation.

Reporting by John Poirier and Nancy Waitz; Editing by Gary Hill