Will consumers give up their credit-card protections?

By Felix Salmon
May 21, 2009

Dear John Thain wonders whether credit-card companies might ask would-be consumers to “voluntarily” opt out of the protections they’ve been given under the new regulations being passed in Washington; their ability to opt back in again would exist in theory but in practice be very hard to find.

I’m not particularly worried that this will happen, because the minute that credit card companies start sending out mailings offering more attractive cards (or cards at all) to people who give up the protections which have just been imposed, there will be such an outcry from both politicians and the media that the companies in question will be forced to back down, or face even more onerous legislation going forwards.

Some protections you’re forced to have: you basically need to open a bank account in a foreign country if you don’t want your funds to be insured by the government. The credit-card protections are like that: they will apply to everybody, whether they want them or not.

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No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer.

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