Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
MasterCard Canada, Inc.

MasterCard Canada, Inc.

November 12, 2008 10:03 ET

FCAC and MasterCard Unveil Model Credit Card Application Form

Public-private partnership advocates greater use of plain language for consumers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 12, 2008) - In an effort to improve credit card disclosure for consumers, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) and MasterCard Canada today made public a new model credit card application form designed to help Canadian consumers better understand what they are applying for and the terminology used in the form.

"Consumers may have trouble reading the fine print in credit card application forms because they find this information too dense," said FCAC Commissioner Ursula Menke. "That is why FCAC in partnership with MasterCard Canada worked together to explore ways of increasing the readability of solicitation and application documents for credit cards. Together, we designed a model plain language application form that makes it easier for Canadians to read and understand the terms and conditions associated with the credit card they are applying for."

"Credit cards are such a widely-used financial tool. We wanted to make sure that consumers took the time to review their applications completely and fully understood the benefits and obligations," explains Kevin Stanton, President, MasterCard Canada. "A more accessible document means consumers are more likely to review the application in full. We're pleased to have worked with the FCAC on this important initiative."

The plain language model application form was tested with real consumers. Participants preferred it to the typical credit card application form, citing the use of plain language, its simple and straightforward nature, and its visually appealing layout, which was airy and uncluttered. They indicated that the use of colour, abundance of white spaces, headings and subheadings and readable font size made it more user friendly and easier to understand.

Along with the application form, participants were given an appendix which explained, in plain language, the terms and conditions of the model credit card application form. Consumers found the appendix to be a highly useful and enlightening document.

After reading the plain language application most participants said that they learned information that they previously did not know or fully understand, even though many had used credit cards for years. Some participants indicated willingness and in some cases, even an eagerness, to seek out additional information.

"As we suspected, this exercise shows that there is a need to simplify credit card documentation, including applications forms, so that consumers will be more inclined to read them and, therefore, understand what they are applying for," said Commissioner Menke. "We are pleased to have been able to put forward this project with MasterCard. This is truly an example of how public and private entities can partner together for the benefit of all consumers. The next step for both organizations will be to share these findings with members of the industry and encourage them to review their documentation and to consider using some of the best practices outlined in this model."

To view the executive summary of the report, as well as the proposed model credit card application, visit FCAC's website at www.fcac.gc.ca.

FCAC provides consumers with accurate, objective information about financial products and services, and informs Canadians of their rights and responsibilities when dealing with federally regulated financial institutions. FCAC also ensures compliance with the consumer protection laws, and monitors codes of conduct and public commitments that apply to banks and federally incorporated trust, loan and insurance companies.

MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link between financial institutions, businesses, cardholders, and merchants worldwide. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payments solutions, processes close to 18 billion payments each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services to financial institutions, customers, and merchants. Through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro®, and Cirrus®, MasterCard Worldwide serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information, go to www.mastercard.com.

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