HSBC changes Costco finance charge agreement

ME in California said: “A notice entitled “Important changes to your cardholder agrement…” arrived with my most recent Costco bill (Retail Services, aka HSBC), with changes to be effective on or after 2/29/08. The changes are to the FINANCE CHARGES section (Section 7) of the agreement. I can’t find my old agreement in order to compare it, but what has caught my attention is that it says “…no Finance Charge is imposed in a billing cycle…” if it “is paid in full BEFORE the Payment Due Date that falls during the cycle.”

(But of course the word “before” is not in all-caps as I’ve indicated.) I use online bill payment from my bank account, and for cards such as this where I pay in full each month, I set the payment date to the due date. I’m concerned that this would now be considered a late payment, under the new terms defined. I called the customer service number, and the person I spoke to had not received any questions about this, but she thought it should say “on or before” rather than “before.” I requested a copy of the old agreement, which she said she will send. (I figure if the old agreement says the same thing, I don’t need to worry. But if the wording is different, we all need to be aware.)”