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1026.10—Payments.*

(a) General rule. A creditor shall credit a payment to the consumer's account as of the date of receipt, except when a delay in crediting does not result in a finance or other charge or except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.

Official Interpretation

10(a) General Rule.

1. Crediting date. Section 1026.10(a) does not require the creditor to post the payment to the consumer's account on a particular date; the creditor is only required to credit the payment as of the date of receipt.

2. Date of receipt. The “date of receipt” is the date that the payment instrument or other means of completing the payment reaches the creditor. For example:

i. Payment by check is received when the creditor gets it, not when the funds are collected.

ii. In a payroll deduction plan in which funds are deposited to an asset account held by the creditor, and from which payments are made periodically to an open-end credit account, payment is received on the date when it is debited to the asset account (rather than on the date of the deposit), provided the payroll deduction method is voluntary and the consumer retains use of the funds until the contractual payment date.

Editor's Note: Effective April 1, 2019, para. 10(a)-2.ii. is amended, to read:

ii. In a payroll deduction plan in which funds are deposited to an asset account held by the creditor, and from which payments are made periodically to an open-end credit account, payment is received on the date when it is debited to the asset account (rather than on the date of the deposit), provided the payroll deduction method is voluntary and the consumer retains use of the funds until the contractual payment date. Section 1026.12(d)(3)(ii) defines “periodically” to mean no more frequently than once per calendar month for payments made periodically from a deposit account, including a prepaid account, held by a card issuer to pay credit card debt in a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61 held by the card issuer. In a payroll deduction plan in which funds are deposited to a prepaid account held by the card issuer, and from which payments are made on a monthly basis to a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card that is held by the card issuer, payment is received on the date when it is debited to the prepaid account (rather than on the date of the deposit), provided the payroll deduction method is voluntary and the consumer retains use of the funds until the contractual payment date.

iii. If the consumer elects to have payment made by a third party payor such as a financial institution, through a preauthorized payment or telephone bill-payment arrangement, payment is received when the creditor gets the third party payor's check or other transfer medium, such as an electronic fund transfer, as long as the payment meets the creditor's requirements as specified under §1026.10(b).

iv. Payment made via the creditor's Web site is received on the date on which the consumer authorizes the creditor to effect the payment, even if the consumer gives the instruction authorizing that payment in advance of the date on which the creditor is authorized to effect the payment. If the consumer authorizes the creditor to effect the payment immediately, but the consumer's instruction is received after 5 p.m. or any later cut-off time specified by the creditor, the date on which the consumer authorizes the creditor to effect the payment is deemed to be the next business day.

 

(b) Specific requirements for payments. (1) General rule. A creditor may specify reasonable requirements for payments that enable most consumers to make conforming payments.

(2) Examples of reasonable requirements for payments. Reasonable requirements for making payment may include:

(i) Requiring that payments be accompanied by the account number or payment stub;

(ii) Setting reasonable cut-off times for payments to be received by mail, by electronic means, by telephone, and in person (except as provided in paragraph (b)(3) of this section), provided that such cut-off times shall be no earlier than 5 p.m. on the payment due date at the location specified by the creditor for the receipt of such payments;

(iii) Specifying that only checks or money orders should be sent by mail;

(iv) Specifying that payment is to be made in U.S. dollars; or

(v) Specifying one particular address for receiving payments, such as a post office box.

(3) In-person payments on credit card accounts. (i) General. Notwithstanding §1026.10(b), payments on a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan made in person at a branch or office of a card issuer that is a financial institution prior to the close of business of that branch or office shall be considered received on the date on which the consumer makes the payment. A card issuer that is a financial institution shall not impose a cut-off time earlier than the close of business for any such payments made in person at any branch or office of the card issuer at which such payments are accepted. Notwithstanding §1026.10(b)(2)(ii), a card issuer may impose a cut-off time earlier than 5 p.m. for such payments, if the close of business of the branch or office is earlier than 5 p.m.

(ii) Financial institution. For purposes of paragraph (b)(3) of this section, “financial institution” shall mean a bank, savings association, or credit union.

(4) Nonconforming payments. (i) In general. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section, if a creditor specifies, on or with the periodic statement, requirements for the consumer to follow in making payments as permitted under this §1026.10, but accepts a payment that does not conform to the requirements, the creditor shall credit the payment within five days of receipt.

(ii) Payment methods promoted by creditor. If a creditor promotes a method for making payments, such payments shall be considered conforming payments in accordance with this paragraph (b) and shall be credited to the consumer's account as of the date of receipt, except when a delay in crediting does not result in a finance or other charge.

Official Interpretation

10(b) Specific Requirements for Payments

1. Payment by electronic fund transfer. A creditor may be prohibited from specifying payment by preauthorized electronic fund transfer. (See Section 913 of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.)

Editor's Note: Effective April 1, 2019, para. 10(b)-1. is amended, to read:

1. Payment by electronic fund transfer. A creditor may be prohibited from specifying payment by preauthorized electronic fund transfer. See section 913 of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E, 12 CFR 1005.10(e).

2. Payment methods promoted by creditor. If a creditor promotes a specific payment method, any payments made via that method (prior to any cut-off time specified by the creditor, to the extent permitted by §1026.10(b)(2)) are generally conforming payments for purposes of §1026.10(b). For example:

i. If a creditor promotes electronic payment via its Web site (such as by disclosing on the Web site itself that payments may be made via the Web site), any payments made via the creditor's Web site prior to the creditor's specified cut-off time, if any, would generally be conforming payments for purposes of §1026.10(b).

ii. If a creditor promotes payment by telephone (for example, by including the option to pay by telephone in a menu of options provided to consumers at a toll-free number disclosed on its periodic statement), payments made by telephone would generally be conforming payments for purposes of §1026.10(b).

iii. If a creditor promotes in-person payments, for example by stating in an advertisement that payments may be made in person at its branch locations, such in-person payments made at a branch or office of the creditor generally would be conforming payments for purposes of §1026.10(b).

iv. If a creditor promotes that payments may be made through an unaffiliated third party, such as by disclosing the Web site address of that third party on the periodic statement, payments made via that third party's Web site generally would be conforming payments for purposes of §1026.10(b). In contrast, if a customer service representative of the creditor confirms to a consumer that payments may be made via an unaffiliated third party, but the creditor does not otherwise promote that method of payment, §1026.10(b) permits the creditor to treat payments made via such third party as nonconforming payments in accordance with §1026.10(b)(4).

3. Acceptance of nonconforming payments. If the creditor accepts a nonconforming payment (for example, payment mailed to a branch office, when the creditor had specified that payment be sent to a different location), finance charges may accrue for the period between receipt and crediting of payments.

4. Implied guidelines for payments. In the absence of specified requirements for making payments (see §1026.10(b)):

i. Payments may be made at any location where the creditor conducts business.

ii. Payments may be made any time during the creditor's normal business hours.

iii. Payment may be by cash, money order, draft, or other similar instrument in properly negotiable form, or by electronic fund transfer if the creditor and consumer have so agreed.

5. Payments made at point of sale. If a card issuer that is a financial institution issues a credit card under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan that can be used only for transactions with a particular merchant or merchants or a credit card that is cobranded with the name of a particular merchant or merchants, and a consumer is able to make a payment on that credit card account at a retail location maintained by such a merchant, that retail location is not considered to be a branch or office of the card issuer for purposes of §1026.10(b)(3).

6. In-person payments on credit card accounts. For purposes of §1026.10(b)(3), payments made in person at a branch or office of a financial institution include payments made with the direct assistance of, or to, a branch or office employee, for example a teller at a bank branch. A payment made at the bank branch without the direct assistance of a branch or office employee, for example a payment placed in a branch or office mail slot, is not a payment made in person for purposes of §1026.10(b)(3).

7. In-person payments at affiliate of card issuer. If an affiliate of a card issuer that is a financial institution shares a name with the card issuer, such as “ABC,” and accepts in-person payments on the card issuer's credit card accounts, those payments are subject to the requirements of §1026.10(b)(3).

 

(c) Adjustment of account. If a creditor fails to credit a payment, as required by paragraphs (a) or (b) of this section, in time to avoid the imposition of finance or other charges, the creditor shall adjust the consumer's account so that the charges imposed are credited to the consumer's account during the next billing cycle.

(d) Crediting of payments when creditor does not receive or accept payments on due date. (1) General. Except as provided in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, if a creditor does not receive or accept payments by mail on the due date for payments, the creditor may generally not treat a payment received the next business day as late for any purpose. For purposes of this paragraph (d), the “next business day” means the next day on which the creditor accepts or receives payments by mail.

(2) Payments accepted or received other than by mail. If a creditor accepts or receives payments made on the due date by a method other than mail, such as electronic or telephone payments, the creditor is not required to treat a payment made by that method on the next business day as timely, even if it does not accept mailed payments on the due date.

Official Interpretation

10(d) Crediting of Payments When Creditor Does Not Receive or Accept Payments on Due Date

1. Example. A day on which the creditor does not receive or accept payments by mail may occur, for example, if the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver mail on that date.

2. Treating a payment as late for any purpose. See comment 5(b)(2)(ii)–2 for guidance on treating a payment as late for any purpose. When an account is not eligible for a grace period, imposing a finance charge due to a periodic interest rate does not constitute treating a payment as late.

 

(e) Limitations on fees related to method of payment. For credit card accounts under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan, a creditor may not impose a separate fee to allow consumers to make a payment by any method, such as mail, electronic, or telephone payments, unless such payment method involves an expedited service by a customer service representative of the creditor. For purposes of paragraph (e) of this section, the term “creditor” includes a third party that collects, receives, or processes payments on behalf of a creditor.

Official Interpretation

10(e) Limitations on Fees Related to Method of Payment

1. Separate fee to allow consumers to make a payment. For purposes of §1026.10(e), the term “separate fee” means a fee imposed on a consumer for making a payment to the consumer's account. A fee or other charge imposed if payment is made after the due date, such as a late fee or finance charge, is not a separate fee to allow consumers to make a payment for purposes of §1026.10(e).

2. Expedited. For purposes of §1026.10(e), the term “expedited” means crediting a payment the same day or, if the payment is received after any cut-off time established by the creditor, the next business day.

3. Service by a customer service representative. Service by a customer service representative of a creditor means any payment made to the consumer's account with the assistance of a live representative or agent of the creditor, including those made in person, on the telephone, or by electronic means. A customer service representative does not include automated means of making payment that do not involve a live representative or agent of the creditor, such as a voice response unit or interactive voice response system. Service by a customer service representative includes any payment transaction which involves the assistance of a live representative or agent of the creditor, even if an automated system is required for a portion of the transaction.

4. Creditor. For purposes of §1026.10(e), the term “creditor” includes a third party that collects, receives, or processes payments on behalf of a creditor. For example:

i. Assume that a creditor uses a service provider to receive, collect, or process on the creditor's behalf payments made through the creditor's Web site or made through an automated telephone payment service. In these circumstances, the service provider would be considered a creditor for purposes of paragraph (e).

ii. Assume that a consumer pays a fee to a money transfer or payment service in order to transmit a payment to the creditor on the consumer's behalf. In these circumstances, the money transfer or payment service would not be considered a creditor for purposes of paragraph (e).

iii. Assume that a consumer has a checking account at a depository institution. The consumer makes a payment to the creditor from the checking account using a bill payment service provided by the depository institution. In these circumstances, the depository institution would not be considered a creditor for purposes of paragraph (e).

 

(f) Changes by card issuer. If a card issuer makes a material change in the address for receiving payments or procedures for handling payments, and such change causes a material delay in the crediting of a payment to the consumer's account during the 60-day period following the date on which such change took effect, the card issuer may not impose any late fee or finance charge for a late payment on the credit card account during the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect.

 

Official Interpretation

10(f) Changes by Card Issuer

1. Address for receiving payment. For purposes of §1026.10(f), “address for receiving payment” means a mailing address for receiving payment, such as a post office box, or the address of a branch o office at which payments on credit card accounts are accepted.

2. Materiality. For purposes of §1026.10(f), a “material change” means any change in the address for receiving payment or procedures for handling cardholder payments which causes a material delay in the crediting of a payment. “Material delay” means any delay in crediting payment to a consumer's account which would result in a late payment and the imposition of a late fee or finance charge. A delay in crediting a payment which does not result in a late fee or finance charge would be immaterial.

3. Safe harbor. i. General. A card issuer may elect not to impose a late fee or finance charge on a consumer's account for the 60-day period following a change in address for receiving payment or procedures for handling cardholder payments which could reasonably be expected to cause a material delay in crediting of a payment to the consumer's account. For purposes of §1026.10(f), a late fee or finance charge is not imposed if the fee or charge is waived or removed, or an amount equal to the fee or charge is credited to the account.

ii. Retail location. For a material change in the address of a retail location or procedures for handling cardholder payments at a retail location, a card issuer may impose a late fee or finance charge on a consumer's account for a late payment during the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect. However, if a card issuer is notified by a consumer no later than 60 days after the card issuer transmitted the first periodic statement that reflects the late fee or finance charge for a late payment that the late payment was caused by such change, the card issuer must waive or remove any late fee or finance charge, or credit an amount equal to any late fee or finance charge, imposed on the account during the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect.

4. Examples. i. A card issuer changes the mailing address for receiving payments by mail from a five-digit postal zip code to a nine-digit postal zip code. A consumer mails a payment using the five-digit postal zip code. The change in mailing address is immaterial and it does not cause a delay. Therefore, a card issuer may impose a late fee or finance charge for a late payment on the account.

ii. A card issuer changes the mailing address for receiving payments by mail from one post office box number to another post office box number. For a 60-day period following the change, the card issuer continues to use both post office box numbers for the collection of payments received by mail. The change in mailing address would not cause a material delay in crediting a payment because payments would be received and credited at both addresses. Therefore, a card issuer may impose a late fee or finance charge for a late payment on the account during the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect.

iii. Same facts as paragraph ii above, except the prior post office box number is no longer valid and mail sent to that address during the 60-day period following the change would be returned to sender. The change in mailing address is material and the change could cause a material delay in the crediting of a payment because a payment sent to the old address could be delayed past the due date. If, as a result, a consumer makes a late payment on the account during the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect, a card issuer may not impose any late fee or finance charge for the late payment.

iv. A card issuer permanently closes a local branch office at which payments are accepted on credit card accounts. The permanent closing of the local branch office is a material change in address for receiving payment. Relying on the safe harbor, the card issuer elects not to impose a late fee or finance charge for the 60-day period following the local branch closing for late payments on consumer accounts which the issuer reasonably determines are associated with the local branch and which could reasonably be expected to have been caused by the branch closing.

v. A consumer has elected to make payments automatically to a credit card account, such as through a payroll deduction plan or a third party payor's preauthorized payment arrangement. A card issuer changes the procedures for handling such payments and as a result, a payment is delayed and not credited to the consumer's account before the due date. In these circumstances, a card issuer may not impose any late fee or finance charge during the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect for a late payment on the account.

vi. A card issuer no longer accepts payments in person at a retail location as a conforming method of payment, which is a material change in the procedures for handling cardholder payment. In the 60-day period following the date on which the change took effect, a consumer attempts to make a payment in person at a retail location of a card issuer. As a result, the consumer makes a late payment and the issuer charges a late fee on the consumer's account. The consumer notifies the card issuer of the late fee for the late payment which was caused by the material change. In order to comply with §1026.10(f), the card issuer must waive or remove the late fee or finance charge, or credit the consumer's account in an amount equal to the late fee or finance charge.

5. Finance charge due to periodic interest rate. When an account is not eligible for a grace period, imposing a finance charge due to a periodic interest rate does not constitute imposition of a finance charge for a late payment for purposes of §1026.10(f).

 

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