LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–April 17, 2015

April 17, 2015, Written By Lynn Oldshue
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Discover Rolls Out Freeze Feature on Credit Cards
Discover credit card customers who can’t quite put their finger on their plastic now may use a new “Freeze It” feature that acts like an on-off switch to stop new purchases and cash advances. Freeze It can be used from a mobile device, online or over the phone. The account can be turned back on at the customer’s discretion. Story by Becky Yerak for the Chicago Tribune.

The Pros & Cons Of Personal Loans vs. Credit Cards
Credit. It’s what separates us from the lower primates. With it, we’re granted temporary access to other people’s money; money we can use to finance aspirations greater than if we were limited to our own money. The lenders get interest, the borrowers get leverage and the economy grows. What’s not to love? Without credit, capitalism would stagnate. But who to borrow from? There are thousands of institutions in the business of lending money, some even bear the imprimatur of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. So it’s just a case of going to whoever offers the lowest rate, right? The answer is both yes and no, because “interest rate” is rarely a static concept. Story by Greg McFarlane for Investopedia.

Watch Out for These Sneaky Credit Card Fees
It’s like a financial paper cut. That free trial you signed up for but forgot to cancel. Or that mystery charge on your credit card statement you don’t remember agreeing to pay. These so-called gray charges–which are not illegal, only deceptive–may seem like minor nuisances. But they can add up over time. BillGuard, a mobile app that tracks spending and flags suspicious transactions, estimates that these charges cost U.S. consumers more than $14 billion annually. Story by Tom Anderson for CNBC.

Experiment Reveals How Fast Stolen Data Spreads on the Dark Web
An experiment from BitGlass studied how stolen credit cards and Social Security numbers make their way through the Internet after a data breach. The results revealed data travels at a remarkable speed and showed just how poor detection efforts have been in America. BitGlass, a security firm, created a set of fake personal data to place on the Internet. The data carried a special watermark that allowed the firm to track its progress through the “Dark Web”, defined by BitGlass as “a part of the web not indexed by Google and other popular search engines and estimated to be about 500 times larger than the normal Internet.” The tracking showed that in just a few days, the data had been viewed over 200 times by people in five different countries across three continents. By day 12, the data had received 1,081 views and reached 22 countries in five continents. By the end of the experiment, the fake information had reached everywhere but Australia and Antarctica. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Target Announces $19 Million Data Breach Settlement with MasterCard
Target said it had agreed to reimburse about $19 million to financial institutions that had issued MasterCard-branded cards that were a part of the massive data breach at the retailer in 2013. The amount under the settlement with MasterCard covers costs that banks incurred to reissue credit cards and debit cards to customers as a result of the breach. Story by Shailaja Sharma and Nathan Layne for Reuters.

More Prepaid Debit Cards Come Without Monthly Fees
The prepaid-card business is cleaning up its act. A new survey found that prepaid debit cards are carrying fewer fees and offering customers more chances to avoid additional costs that may be tacked onto the account. Originally pitched mostly to people without bank accounts, prepaid cards are now being marketed to middle-class and affluent consumers as a budgeting tool for vacations or to provide spending money to college students. Unlike gift cards, which have a set dollar amount on them and usually can’t be refilled, general-purpose prepaid cards can be loaded with cash or direct-deposit payroll checks and used anywhere traditional credit or debit cards are accepted. Story by Robin Sidel for The Wall Street Journal.

Apple Watch Generates Nearly 1 Million Pre-Orders
Apple’s new smartwatch could be another huge revenue producer for the tech giant. Apple began taking pre-orders on its Apple Watch on Friday, two weeks prior to the product’s official launch date of April 24. Based on research from Slice Intelligence, pre-orders in the United States reached an estimated 957,000 units. The average buyer ordered 1.3 units and spent an average of $503.83 per watch. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.

CFPB Finalizes Rule Aimed at Improving Credit Card Agreement Submission Process
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a final rule aimed at improving the way companies submit consumer credit card agreements to the bureau. The rule temporarily suspends a requirement that each quarter certain credit card issuers send their agreements to the bureau, which publishes them in a public database on its website. Other requirements, including card issuers’ obligations to post these agreements on their own publicly available websites, will remain unaffected by the rule. Story in ACA International.

Data Breach Notification Legislation Moves Forward
The controversial data breach notification legislation made its way past the committee level on Wednesday when the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the measure 29-20. The Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Trade in late March, and will now head to the full Energy and Commerce committee with amendments. While some legislators have argued the bill is too vague and overarching, others think there needs to be more provisions about enhanced consumer data protection at the state level – as well as the federal. Democrats against the bill have pushed to have more specifics included, while proponents of the bill think tailoring it too much would hinder the impact of the legislation. Story in PYMNTS.

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report
Based on the 1,000+ cards in the LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index, the average advertised APR for credit cards is 14.45 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.57 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.46 percent.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of April 17, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.