Last week the popular Huffington Post initiated a campaign urging readers to have their college and university alumni associations disclose their affinity credit card agreements. HuffPo, as it is known, mentioned that the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 requires these groups to explain certain aspects of their card contracts.
Huffington also provided a sample letter, and instructions for how to be "polite but persistent" in your query to the university or its alumni group.
As a follow up, CASE's Director of Government Relations & Institutionally Related Foundations, Brian Flahaven, circulated some information highlighting key aspects of the legislation (which is known by its clever acronym: the Credit CARD Act...get it? Credit Card? Credit CARD?).
According to Flahaven, disclosure obligations vary, depending on the kind of "alumni group" involved.
I'll quote Brian's note at length, since his explanation is detailed and clear:
Alumni Associations Not Separate From Institution
The law requires institutions of higher education to "publicly disclose any contract or other agreement made with a card issuer or creditor for the purpose of marketing a credit card." This means that alumni associations that are not separate from their colleges and universities will now have to disclose all affinity credit card marketing agreements. Final regulations released by the Federal Reserve Board indicate that institutions can meet this requirement by posting the contract or agreement on [their] Web site or by making it available upon request.
Alumni Associations Organized as Separate 501(c)3 Organizations
The law requires credit card companies to disclose any marketing agreements with institutions of higher education, alumni associations and affiliated foundations under which credit cards are issued to college students. This means that any card agreement where a student has been issued a card would be subject to disclosure by the credit card company, not the alumni association. Final regulations released by the Federal Reserve Board...
...Clarify that "an agreement may qualify as a college credit card agreement even if marketing of cards under the agreement is targeted at alumni, faculty, staff and other non-student consumers, as long as cards may also be issued to students in connection with the agreement."
...Define college student broadly. The definition includes students of any age attending an institution of higher education and applies to students enrolled in graduate or joint degree programs.
Finally, Flahaven provides additional links as resources:
- The section of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 affecting alumni association affinity credit card programs [may require CASE member log in]
- Section of the Federal Reserve Board's final regulations on the Credit CARD Act of 2009 affecting alumni association affinity credit card programs. [333kb PDF]
Brian closes with this advice: "If you receive a request for a copy of your association's affinity credit card agreement, we encourage you to review the law with your legal counsel to determine your disclosure requirements."
I would say, even if you don't receive a request for a copy of the agreement, go ahead and review the law with general counsel. You should know your legal obligations.
Contact Brian Flahaven at CASE directly with your questions:
telephone: 202/478-5617 or
email: firstname.lastname@example.org .