So what’s going on here? Well, for one thing, sound public policy.
The passage of the US Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act—the CARD Act—in 2009 and its 2010 implementation completely reshaped the American credit card industry. Here’s some of what the CARD Act did:
Blocked credit card companies from extending credit without assessing the customer’s ability to pay
Implemented rules on marketing to people under the age of 21 to crack down abuses at college campuses
Limited a credit card company’s ability to levy penalty fees
Restricted the circumstances in which the company could jack up interest rates
And the CARD act is working. For one thing, the industry is opening far fewer accounts for people under the age of 21. In 2007 3.9 million accounts were opened for those under the age of 21. That number was 1.7 million in 2012, down 56.4%.