Credit cards: rights and responsibilities

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Consumer Alert

Banks must obtain your consent before issuing you a credit card.

Know your rights if you were signed up for a credit card without your knowledge.

When you apply for a credit card, you are entering into a contract. Like any contract, it is legally binding and gives each party certain rights and responsibilities.

Your right to information

New electronic alerts from your bank

Some banks have started sending new electronic alerts to help you manage your day-to-day finances and avoid unnecessary fees.

What you need to know about these electronic alerts.

There are rules that federally regulated financial institutions (FRFI) have to follow to make it easier for you to understand the terms of your credit card contract.

Cancelling your credit card

To cancel a credit card account, you must contact your credit card issuer. Simply cutting up the card or not using it will not automatically cancel the credit card account.  

Unsolicited credit card cheques

Credit card cheques, sometimes called “convenience cheques”, are charged directly to your credit card account and you begin paying interest immediately.

Federally regulated financial institutions must get your express consent before providing you with credit card cheques. If you consent orally, they must send you written confirmation of your consent, either on paper or electronically, so that you receive it no later than the date of the first credit card statement provided after you consented.

Simply using the credit card or any other service related to the credit card account does not count as your express consent to receive unsolicited credit card cheques.

Joint or shared cards

Before you co-sign for a credit card with another person, it's important for you to understand your liability (what you will be responsible for).

When are you considered joint borrowers?

If you co-signed for a credit card with another person (or a group of people), you are considered joint borrowers. The lender must give all of you copies of the credit agreement and the monthly statements, unless you consent either verbally or in writing (on paper or electronically) to waive this right.

With monthly statements, you can keep track of the status of the account—for example, whether the other borrower is making payments or if the terms and conditions have changed. Receiving regular statements also allows joint borrowers to understand what they are responsible for.

If you borrow money or take out a credit card jointly with another person, federally regulated financial institutions are required to provide you with joint borrower disclosure.

What you should do if you feel your rights are not being respected

If you feel that a federally regulated financial institution is not respecting your rights, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

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