Federal law prohibits card issuers from sending you a card you have not requested. However, a card issuer can send  a renewal for card holder or substitute card without asking for it. Issuers may send you an application or a solicitation, or ask you by phone if you want a card. If you say yes to this, they may send you a card.

Prompt Credit for Payment

A card issuer must credit your account the day payment is received. There are some exceptions to this. If payment is not made according to the creditors requirements or if the delay in crediting the account will not result in charges to the account, the credit need not take place on the day of receipt.

It is important to always follow the card issuer’s mailing instructions. Payment sent to the wrong address could delay your account being credited for a number of days. You could have charges applied as a result. Should you misplace the payment envelope sent with your bill, make sure your own replacement envelope has the correct address written on it. This can be found on the billing statement. If you have any doubts call the card issuer immediately.

Refunds of Credit Balances

When you make a return or pay more than the balance outstanding on your account this might place the account in credit. You can leave the credit in your account or write to the card issuer for a refund. The sum in credit must be more than $1. Any refund must be issued within seven business days of your request being received, and if a credit sits n an account for more than six months the card issuer must try to issue with a refund even if you have not requested it.

Errors on Your Bill

There are strict rules that issuers must follow with regard to promptly correcting billing errors. You will get a statement outlining these rules when you open an account and at least once a year thereafter. Many issuers include a summary of your rights regarding billing disputes on their monthly bills.

Should you find a mistake on your bill, you can dispute a particular charge or charges, and withhold the relevant payment amount until the matter has been investigated. You may have been overcharged for an item, been charged for something you did not accept, or for an article that was not delivered as agreed with the supplier. In these circumstances you must pay any part of the bill that is not in dispute and any finance or other charges that may apply.

If you decide to dispute a charge

You must act promptly. Contact the card issuer straight away by writing to the ‘billing inquiry’ address on your statement. Always give your name, address, account number and a full description of the error. Your correspondence must reach the card issuer within 60 days of them sending the bill that first contained the error. They must acknowledge card holder complaint in writing within 30 days of receiving it, unless the problem is resolved sooner. The matter should generally be resolved within two billing cycles and at most within 90 days.

Unauthorized Charges

If your card is used without your permission, you can be held responsible for up to $50 per card. If a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you will owe is $50. However, if you report the loss of your card before it is used you cannot be held responsible for any unauthorized charges.

To minimize your potential liability it is essential you report the card loss as soon as possible. Some issuers have 24-hour toll-free telephone numbers to accept emergency information (View card issuer contacts). Use the number. You should also follow up the verbal report with a letter to the issuer. Give your account number, the date you realized your card was missing, and the date you reported the loss.

It is a good idea to have a credit report and monitoring service activated so you can be quickly made aware of any attempt at identity theft.

Disputes about Merchandise or Card Issuer Services

You as card holder have the right to dispute charges for unsatisfactory goods or services. To do so you must have made the purchase in your home state or within 100 miles of your current billing address. Unless the seller is also the card issuer the charge involved must be more than $50. You should try to resolve the dispute with the issuer but if you cannot do so you may wish to consider filing an action in the small claims court.