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Calculating adjustments to the safe harbor limits on credit card issuer fees

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection is required to annually calculate the inflation-adjusted dollar amounts for several provisions in Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act.

Two such annual calculations relate to § 1026.52(b)(1)(ii), which is a safe harbor provision allowing credit card issuers to impose penalty fees on consumers for violating account terms without violating the restrictions on penalty fees established by the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. One calculation is an adjustment to the safe harbor fee amount that credit card issuers are permitted to impose on a consumer for the consumer’s first violation of the terms of a credit card agreement. The other calculation is an adjustment to the safe harbor fee amount that credit card issuers can impose on a consumer for subsequent violations of the same type. This diagram offers an easy way to understand how those thresholds are calculated. 

For the sake of brevity, the diagram demonstrates only the step-by-step calculation for the first-violation safe harbor fee amount. The subsequent-violation safe harbor fee amount is calculated in the same fashion, however, and the resulting value is included in the summary at the bottom of this page.

Step 1

Gather starting information.

2017 CPI-W & 2018 CPI-W 

Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in effect on June 1 of each year. Usually, this is the April CPI-W, which is published in mid-May. CPI data are available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website at . 

2018 Change (carried over)

Cumulative change to the fee carried over from the previous year. The calculation is described in Step 5 (below). 

2018 Adjusted dollar amount

The first-violation safe harbor penalty fee from Regulation Z, § 1026.52(b)(1)(ii)(A) in effect in 2018.

CPI-W

2017

2018

2019

CPI-W

238.432

244.607

 

% change in CPI-W

 
 
 

First-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 
 
 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.815

 

Cumulative change

 
 
 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$27.00

 

Step 2

Calculate the percent change in CPI-W from 2017 to 2018.

(2018 CPI-W - 2017 CPI-W) ÷ 2017 CPI-W = 2018% change in CPI-W

(244.607 - 238.432) ÷ 238.432 = 2.590%

CPI-W

2017

2018

2019

CPI-W

238.432 

244.607

 

% change in CPI-W

 

2.590%

 

First-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 
 
 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.815

 

Cumulative change

 
 
 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$27.00

 

Step 3

Calculate the 2018 Change (current year) value.

2018% change in CPI-W x 2018 Adjusted dollar amount = 2018 Change (current year)

0.02590 x 27 = 0.699

CPI-W

2017

2018

2019

CPI-W

238.432

244.607

 

% change in CPI-W

 

2.590%

 

First-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 

$0.699

 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.815

 

Cumulative change

 
 
 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$27.00

 

Step 4

Calculate the 2018 Cumulative change.

2018 Change (current year) + 2018 Change (carried over) = 2018 Cumulative change

0.699 + 0.815 = 1.514

CPI-W

2017

2018

2019

CPI-W

238.432

244.607

 

% change in CPI-W

 

2.590%

 

First-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 

$0.699

 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.815

 

Cumulative change

 

$1.514

 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$27.00

 

Step 5

Calculate the 2019 Adjusted dollar amount and 2019 Change (carried over).

If the 2018 Cumulative change is ≥ $1

Then the 2019 Adjusted dollar amount amount will be $1 greater than the 2018 Adjusted dollar amount, and the 2019 Change (carried over) will be $1 less than the 2018 Cumulative change.

If the 2018 Cumulative change is ≤ $-1

Then the 2019 Adjusted dollar amount will be $1 less than the 2018 Adjusted dollar amount, and the 2019 Change (carried over) will be $1 greater than the 2018 Cumulative change.

If the 2018 Cumulative change is between $-1 and $1

Then the 2019 Adjusted dollar amount will be the same as the 2018 Adjusted dollar amount, and the 2019 Change (carried over) will be the same as the 2018 Cumulative change.

CPI-W

2017

2018

2019

CPI-W

238.432

244.607

 

% change in CPI-W

 

2.590%

 

First-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 

$0.699

 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.815

$0.514

Cumulative change

 

$1.514

 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$27.00

$28.00

Summary

Below are the full calculations for both the first-violation fee and subsequent-violation fee safe harbor thresholds.

CPI-W

2017

2018

2019

CPI-W

238.432

244.607

 

% change in CPI-W

 

2.590%

 

First-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 

$0.699

 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.815

$0.514

Cumulative change

 

$1.514

 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$27.00

$28.00

Subsequent-violation fee

2017

2018

2019

Change (current year)

 

$0.984

 

Change (carried over)

 

$0.986

$0.970

Cumulative change

 

$1.970

 

Adjusted dollar amount

 

$38.00

$39.00