These days, comparing credit cards can take a lot of time and effort. Not only are there hundreds of credit card options, there are dozens of features to consider. Is it a rewards card? What is the interest rate? How much are the annual fees?
Just researching all of these details can be a big job. But the process can be a little easier thanks to the Schumer box. Housing everything from a card’s APR to its transaction fees, the Schumer Box is a credit card hunter’s best friend.
What is a Schumer box?
A Schumer box is a table that displays the rates and charges for a credit card. It lists important information like interest rates and fees, annual fees, and transaction fees.
The Schumer box is the result of the regulations of the Truth in Lending Act of 1968. By law, a credit card issuer must clearly present a card’s rates and charges in all promotions.
The idea is to make it easy for consumers to see the costs of a card. Literally. The law requires that disclosures be both “clear and visible”. For example, instead of small, lowercase characters, the details should be in a readable font size. More precisely, the purchase APRs must be of type 18 points. Other key rates and fees should be 8 points or more, and a 12 point type is suggested.
Every credit card offer you receive will have a Schumer box. It will be in the envelope if you receive an offer in the mail. And there will be a copy of it in that big bundle of papers when you get a new credit card.
The law also applies to digital card offers. The Schumer box will be linked to all online credit card offers. This includes payment offers and credit card landing pages. Most issuers will place the link right next to the “Apply” button.
The exact wording of the Schumer box link varies, but some of the more common terms include:
- Prices and fees
- Tariffs and disclosures
- Prices and conditions
- Terms and conditions
Basically, look for any link that says anything about rates, conditions, or pricing. The first thing you will see on the new page will probably be the Schumer box.
Why is it called a Schumer box?
It’s somewhat ironic that a table designed to add clarity to credit cards has such a confusing name. Rather than calling the rate and charge table the “rate and charge box”, we get the “Schumer box”. Why? Well, it comes down to politics.
The Schumer Box is named after Senator Chuck Schumer (who was a member of Congress at the time). It was he who proposed the legislation to require a clear display of rates and fees. As is often the case in politics, legislation has been nicknamed after its advocate. And since finance likes its jargon, the name stuck. Today, the Schumer box is an industry standard.
How to read a Schumer box
At first glance, a Schumer box can mean a lot to assimilate. There are a lot of numbers stacked on top of each other. But you can quickly figure it all out if you look at it one section at a time.
Although it’s called a Schumer box, in the singular, it actually has two separate tables. The first table displays the interest rates and fees. The second table is for fees.