Credit Cards

The Biggest Credit Card Complaint: Your Bill

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Billing disputes, interest rate issues and fraud concerns are the most frequent complaints filed by credit card users, according to a new report issued this week by the Public Interest Research Group. The consumer advocacy organization examined all 175,000 complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since it began taking complaints in 2011, including 29,000 filed against credit card issuers, to determine the ranking.

The group also found that consumers in the Northeast were the most frequent complainers. In fact, when ranked by complaints per 100,000 residents, the top five complaint states were, in order: Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New York and New Jersey.

In all, 4,138 consumers said they had a billing dispute with a credit card company, representing 16% of all credit card-related complaints. Billing disputes far outpaced all other categories. The second-highest issue — interest rate concerns — attracted roughly half as many. Fraud and credit reporting problems were roughly equal, while late fees and collections issues rounded out the top 10. Complaints about rewards programs or other fees ranked near the bottom, attracting only about 600 complaints each.

The report was issued as part of an ongoing series that examines the public database published by the CFPB, which now accepts complaints on nearly every topic related to consumers and money. So far, mortgage issuers have attracted the most complaints. Credit card issuers have attracted the second-most complaints, but at roughly one-third the number of mortgage disputes.

The report also reveals that in 7,300 of the 29,000 complaints filed against credit card companies, consumers received some kind of monetary relief from the bank, and another 2,400 were granted “non-monetary relief,” such as changing account terms or correcting reports filed with credit bureaus.

“The CFPB is empowering consumers to demand accountability from their credit card companies,” said Laura Murray, Consumer Associate for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Finally, consumers ripped off by junky credit card add-ons or unfair billing disputes have somewhere to turn.”

Complaints can be filed with the CFPB at its website.

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