Federal Reserve approves final rule on credit cards

The new rule also prohibits card issuers from charging fees that exceed the amount of the consumer's violation. For example, card issuers can't charge a $39 late fee when a consumer is late making a $20 minimum payment. The fee can't exceed $20. 

Inactivity fees, such as not making new purchases, are banned under the rule. Issuers also are prevented from charging multiple penalty fees based on a single late payment or other violation of the account terms. 

The rule also requires issuers that have increased rates since Jan. 1, 2009. to evaluate whether the reason for the increase has changed and, if appropriate, to reduce the rate. 

Approving the final rule represents the third stage of the Fed's implementation of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, enacted in May 2009.