CPFB aims spotlight at credit cards in monthly snapshot

October 29, 2015

WASHINGTON (10/29/15)--Late fees and confusing payment processing schedules top the list of most-complained about aspects of credit cards, according to this month’s complaint snapshot from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

According to the agency, since it opened its doors in 2011 through Oct. 1, it has handled roughly 79,500 credit card-related complaints and a total of more than 726,000 complaints.

The most frequently occurring complaints are:

  • Problems making payments, representing 16% of credit card-related complaints. Consumers frequently mention that they are charged surprise late fees because the company did not make it clear that payments would be not credited the day the payment was made;
  • Frustration and confusion when consumers attempted to dispute charges on their credit card bills. Many complained they did not have clear information on the amount of time they had to dispute charges they believed were wrong, or that they were not made aware that their credit card company would not assist them in a dispute with a merchant; and
  • Accounts closed without consumer consent or advanced warning, representing 7% of consumer credit card complaints. In the majority of these situations, the company stated that the account closure occurred because of suspected fraud on the card. Consumers said they were often not informed by the credit card company before the cards were deactivated.

The most-complained-about companies are: Citibank, Capital One, GE Capital Retail and JPMorgan Chase, accounting for nearly 60% of credit card complaints submitted to the bureau between May and July 2015.

Of these companies, Citibank received 708 complaints during this time period, which was more than 100 more complaints than the second most-complained about company, Capital One.

This month’s geographic spotlight focused on Chicago, of which 21,000 of the bureau’s total of 726,000 complaints originated. Mortgages are at the top of the list, with 27% of complaints.

Chicago’s complaint volume and types mirror national trends, with debt collection and credit reporting in second place on the most-complained-about list. All three are the same top complaints nationwide.

Credit reporting companies TransUnion, Equifax and Experian were the first, second and, fourth most-complained-about companies by Chicago-area consumers over a 12-month period. The third-most complained about company by Chicago-area consumers was JPMorgan Chase.