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1026.54—Limitations on the imposition of finance charges.

(a) Limitations on imposing finance charges as a result of the loss of a grace period. (1) General rule. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, a card issuer must not impose finance charges as a result of the loss of a grace period on a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan if those finance charges are based on:

(i) Balances for days in billing cycles that precede the most recent billing cycle; or

(ii) Any portion of a balance subject to a grace period that was repaid prior to the expiration of the grace period.

(2) Definition of grace period. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, “grace period” has the same meaning as in §1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(B)( 3 ).

Official Interpretation

54(a) Limitations on imposing finance charges as a result of the loss of a grace period

54(a)(1) General Rule

1. Eligibility for grace period. Section 1026.54 prohibits the imposition of finance charges as a result of the loss of a grace period in certain specified circumstances. Section 1026.54 does not require the card issuer to provide a grace period. Furthermore, §1026.54 does not prohibit the card issuer from placing limitations and conditions on a grace period (such as limiting application of the grace period to certain types of transactions or conditioning eligibility for the grace period on certain transactions being paid in full by a particular date), provided that such limitations and conditions are consistent with §1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(B) and §1026.54. Finally, §1026.54 does not limit the imposition of finance charges with respect to a transaction when the consumer is not eligible for a grace period on that transaction at the end of the billing cycle in which the transaction occurred. For example:

i. Assume that the billing cycles for a credit card account begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month and that the payment due date is the twenty-fifth day of the month. Assume also that, for purchases made during the current billing cycle (for purposes of this example, the June billing cycle), the grace period applies from the date of the purchase until the payment due date in the following billing cycle (July 25), subject to two conditions. First, the purchase balance at the end of the preceding billing cycle (the May billing cycle) must have been paid in full by the payment due date in the current billing cycle (June 25). Second, the purchase balance at the end of the current billing cycle (the June billing cycle) must be paid in full by the following payment due date (July 25). Finally, assume that the consumer was eligible for a grace period at the start of the June billing cycle (in other words, assume that the purchase balance for the April billing cycle was paid in full by May 25).

A. If the consumer pays the purchase balance for the May billing cycle in full by June 25, then at the end of the June billing cycle the consumer is eligible for a grace period with respect to purchases made during that billing cycle. Therefore, §1026.54 limits the imposition of finance charges with respect to purchases made during the June billing cycle if the consumer does not pay the purchase balance for the June billing cycle in full by July 25. Specifically, §1026.54(a)(1)(i) prohibits the card issuer from imposing finance charges based on the purchase balance at the end of the June billing cycle for days that precede the July billing cycle. Furthermore, §1026.54(a)(1)(ii) prohibits the card issuer from imposing finance charges based on any portion of the balance at the end of the June billing cycle that was paid on or before July 25.

B. If the consumer does not pay the purchase balance for the May billing cycle in full by June 25, then the consumer is not eligible for a grace period with respect to purchases made during the June billing cycle at the end of that cycle. Therefore, §1026.54 does not limit the imposition of finance charges with respect to purchases made during the June billing cycle regardless of whether the consumer pays the purchase balance for the June billing cycle in full by July 25.

ii. Same facts as above except that the card issuer places only one condition on the provision of a grace period for purchases made during the current billing cycle (the June billing cycle): that the purchase balance at the end of the current billing cycle (the June billing cycle) be paid in full by the following payment due date (July 25). In these circumstances, §1026.54 applies to the same extent as discussed in paragraphs i.A and i.B above regardless of whether the purchase balance for the April billing cycle was paid in full by May 25.

2. Definition of grace period. For purposes of §§1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(B) and 1026.54, a grace period is a period within which any credit extended may be repaid without incurring a finance charge due to a periodic interest rate. The following are not grace periods for purposes of §1026.54:

i. Deferred interest and similar programs. A deferred interest or similar promotional program under which a consumer will not be obligated to pay interest that accrues on a balance if that balance is paid in full prior to the expiration of a specified period of time is not a grace period for purposes of §1026.54. Thus, §1026.54 does not prohibit the card issuer from charging accrued interest to an account upon expiration of a deferred interest or similar program if the balance was not paid in full prior to expiration (to the extent consistent with §1026.55 and other applicable law and regulatory guidance).

ii. Waivers or rebates of interest. As a general matter, a card issuer has not provided a grace period with respect to transactions for purposes of §1026.54 if, on an individualized basis (such as in response to a consumer's request), the card issuer waives or rebates finance charges that have accrued on transactions. In addition, when a balance at the end of the preceding billing cycle is paid in full on or before the payment due date in the current billing cycle, a card issuer that waives or rebates trailing or residual interest accrued on that balance or any other transactions during the current billing cycle has not provided a grace period with respect to that balance or any other transactions for purposes of §1026.54. However, if the terms of the account provide that all interest accrued on transactions will be waived or rebated if the balance for those transactions at the end of the billing cycle during which the transactions occurred is paid in full by the following payment due date, the card issuer is providing a grace period with respect to those transactions for purposes of §1026.54. For example:

A. Assume that the billing cycles for a credit card account begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month and that the payment due date is the twenty-fifth day of the month. On March 31, the balance on the account is $1,000 and the consumer is not eligible for a grace period with respect to that balance because the balance at the end of the prior billing cycle was not paid in full on March 25. On April 15, the consumer uses the account for a $500 purchase. On April 25, the card issuer receives a payment of $1,000. On May 3, the card issuer mails or delivers a periodic statement reflecting trailing or residual interest that accrued on the $1,000 balance from April 1 through April 24 as well as interest that accrued on the $500 purchase from April 15 through April 30. On May 10, the consumer requests that the trailing or residual interest charges be waived and the card issuer complies. By waiving these interest charges, the card issuer has not provided a grace period with respect to the $1,000 balance or the $500 purchase.

B. Same facts as in paragraph ii.A above except that the terms of the account state that trailing or residual interest will be waived in these circumstances or it is the card issuer's practice to waive trailing or residual interest in these circumstances. By waiving these interest charges, the card issuer has not provided a grace period with respect to the $1,000 balance or the $500 purchase.

C. Assume that the billing cycles for a credit card account begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month and that the payment due date is the twenty-fifth day of the month. Assume also that, for purchases made during the current billing cycle (for purposes of this example, the June billing cycle), the terms of the account provide that interest accrued on those purchases from the date of the purchase until the payment due date in the following billing cycle (July 25) will be waived or rebated, subject to two conditions. First, the purchase balance at the end of the preceding billing cycle (the May billing cycle) must have been paid in full by the payment due date in the current billing cycle (June 25). Second, the purchase balance at the end of the current billing cycle (the June billing cycle) must be paid in full by the following payment due date (July 25). Under these circumstances, the card issuer is providing a grace period on purchases for purposes of §1026.54. Therefore, assuming that the consumer was eligible for this grace period at the start of the June billing cycle (in other words, assuming that the purchase balance for the April billing cycle was paid in full by May 25) and assuming that the consumer pays the purchase balance for the May billing cycle in full by June 25, §1026.54 applies to the imposition of finance charges with respect to purchases made during the June billing cycle. Specifically, §1026.54(a)(1)(i) prohibits the card issuer from imposing finance charges based on the purchase balance at the end of the June billing cycle for days that precede the July billing cycle. Furthermore, §1026.54(a)(1)(ii) prohibits the card issuer from imposing finance charges based on any portion of the balance at the end of the June billing cycle that was paid on or before July 25.

3. Relationship to payment allocation requirements in §1026.53. Card issuers must comply with the payment allocation requirements in §1026.53 even if doing so will result in the loss of a grace period.

4. Prohibition on two-cycle balance computation method. When a consumer ceases to be eligible for a grace period, §1026.54(a)(1)(i) prohibits the card issuer from computing the finance charge using the two-cycle average daily balance computation method. This method calculates the finance charge using a balance that is the sum of the average daily balances for two billing cycles. The first balance is for the current billing cycle, and is calculated by adding the total balance (including or excluding new purchases and deducting payments and credits) for each day in the billing cycle, and then dividing by the number of days in the billing cycle. The second balance is for the preceding billing cycle.

5. Prohibition on imposing finance charges on amounts paid within grace period. When a balance on a credit card account is eligible for a grace period and the card issuer receives payment for some but not all of that balance prior to the expiration of the grace period, §1026.54(a)(1)(ii) prohibits the card issuer from imposing finance charges on the portion of the balance paid. Card issuers are not required to use a particular method to comply with §1026.54(a)(1)(ii). However, when §1026.54(a)(1)(ii) applies, a card issuer is in compliance if, for example, it applies the consumer's payment to the balance subject to the grace period at the end of the preceding billing cycle (in a manner consistent with the payment allocation requirements in §1026.53) and then calculates interest charges based on the amount of the balance that remains unpaid.

6. Examples. Assume that the annual percentage rate for purchases on a credit card account is 15%. The billing cycle starts on the first day of the month and ends on the last day of the month. The payment due date for the account is the twenty-fifth day of the month. For purchases made during the current billing cycle, the card issuer provides a grace period from the date of the purchase until the payment due date in the following billing cycle, provided that the purchase balance at the end of the current billing cycle is paid in full by the following payment due date. For purposes of this example, assume that none of the required minimum periodic payment is allocated to the balances discussed. During the March billing cycle, the following transactions are charged to the account: A $100 purchase on March 10, a $200 purchase on March 15, and a $300 purchase on March 20. On March 25, the purchase balance for the February billing cycle is paid in full. Thus, for purposes of §1026.54, the consumer is eligible for a grace period on the March purchases. At the end of the March billing cycle (March 31), the consumer's total purchase balance is $600 and the consumer will not be charged interest on that balance if it is paid in full by the following due date (April 25).

i. On April 10, a $150 purchase is charged to the account. On April 25, the card issuer receives $500 in excess of the required minimum periodic payment. Section 1026.54(a)(1)(i) prohibits the card issuer from reaching back and charging interest on any of the March transactions from the date of the transaction through the end of the March billing cycle (March 31). In these circumstances, the card issuer may comply with §1026.54(a)(1)(ii) by applying the $500 excess payment to the $600 purchase balance and then charging interest only on the portion of the $600 purchase balance that remains unpaid ($100) from the start of the April billing cycle (April 1) through the end of the April billing cycle (April 30). In addition, the card issuer may charge interest on the $150 purchase from the date of the transaction (April 10) through the end of the April billing cycle (April 31).

ii. Same facts as in paragraph 6 above except that, on March 18, a $250 cash advance is charged to the account at an annual percentage rate of 25%. The card issuer's grace period does not apply to cash advances, but the card issuer does provide a grace period on the March purchases because the purchase balance for the February billing cycle is paid in full on March 25. On April 25, the card issuer receives $600 in excess of the required minimum periodic payment. As required by §1026.53, the card issuer allocates the $600 excess payment first to the balance with the highest annual percentage rate (the $250 cash advance balance). Although §1026.54(a)(1)(i) prohibits the card issuer from charging interest on the March purchases based on days in the March billing cycle, the card issuer may charge interest on the $250 cash advance from the date of the transaction (March 18) through April 24. In these circumstances, the card issuer may comply with §1026.54(a)(1)(ii) by applying the remainder of the excess payment ($350) to the $600 purchase balance and then charging interest only on the portion of the $600 purchase balance that remains unpaid ($250) from the start of the April billing cycle (April 1) through the end of the April billing cycle (April 30).

iii. Same facts as in paragraph 6 above except that the consumer does not pay the balance for the February billing cycle in full on March 25 and therefore is not eligible for a grace period on the March purchases. Under these circumstances, §1026.54 does not apply and the card issuer may charge interest from the date of each transaction through April 24 and interest on the remaining $100 from April 25 through the end of the April billing cycle (April 25).

 

(b) Exceptions. Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to:

(1) Adjustments to finance charges as a result of the resolution of a dispute under §1026.12 or §1026.13; or

(2) Adjustments to finance charges as a result of the return of a payment.

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