New rules for credit card cheques now in effect
OTTAWA - Consumers can now decide whether they want to receive credit card cheques from their financial institutions. These cheques, sometimes called "promotional" or "convenience" cheques, can be used by consumers to pay bills or to transfer a balance from a higher interest credit card or loan to a credit card which may be offering a promotional low interest rate for a specific period of time.
Federally regulated financial institutions (FRFIs) can no longer send these cheques to their customers in an unsolicited manner thanks to new requirements, which form part of the existing Credit Business Practices Regulations. FRFIs must now get express consent from their credit card clients before providing them with credit card cheques. Simply using the credit card or any other service related to the credit card account does not count as express consent to receive credit card cheques. These regulations, which fulfill an Economic Action Plan 2011 commitment to assist consumers in managing credit indebtedness, come into force today.
Consumers can continue to request and use credit card cheques but they should ensure they are aware of their terms and conditions, especially:
that financial institutions charge interest from the date the cheques are used, like cash advances;
whether there is a fee to transfer the balance;
how long the promotional low-rate period lasts;
what the interest rate will be after the promotional period ends.
More information is available on the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada at itpaystoknow.gc.ca.