OTTAWA, Canada — A major card brand and Canadian consumer regulator have collaborated to develop a credit card application aimed at cutting through the usual confusing language.The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, an independent Canadian federal agency, and MasterCard Canada said the new form, which they tested with consumers, should help both consumers and card issuers."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," explained Kevin Stanton, president of 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."Consumers participating in tests of the new format said they 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, FCAC said.The consumers also said the use of color, abundance of white spaces, headings and subheadings, and readable font size made it more user-friendly and easier to understand.Consumers who tested the form were also 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, MasterCard said.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 even eagerness, to seek out additional information."We are pleased to have been able to put forward this project with MasterCard," said Menke. "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."–[email protected]

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