CFPB to require credit card issuers to share more data for comparison site

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced this week that it is requiring many credit card issuers to report more details about the types of credit card plans they offer on a CFPB survey, with the goal of creating a website for consumers to compare card offerings. However, the American Bankers Association and other associations have raised concerns about the process the CFPB used to implement the changes, saying the agency didn’t properly disclose the revisions it was pursuing nor give the public a realistic chance to comment on those revisions.

The CFPB’s semiannual terms of credit card plans survey has been administered for decades, having been created by the Federal Reserve. The survey collects and publicizes product data on credit cards from the largest 25 issuers as well as a sample of at least 125 additional issuers. Financial institutions that are not among the sampled issuers can voluntarily submit information about their credit card products.

Changes to the survey will require some institutions to provide more information with consumers about their credit card offerings, including the median interest rate of current cardholders, with the goal of creating a CFPB website that is intended to match consumers with the best credit card. Other changes include adding a requirement that the top 25 issuers answer questions about all their credit cards rather than their most popular products. More card issuers will be asked to voluntarily provide data.

ABA and other financial industry associations sent a series of letters to the CFPB and the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs noting that the agency was keeping the proposed revisions secret and not responding to repeated requests to make them available to the public. The groups asserted that these irregularities compromised the public comment periods and violated administrative law. They also urged the CFPB to issue an official notice rather than a blog post to provide details on the intended use and utility of a CFPB-run credit card comparison platform that would apparently include rewards and other factors in its consumer matching processes. ABA requested the CFPB to withdraw its proposed changes and restart with a legally sound process.