LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 15, 2013
Companies that issue credit cards can no longer market them to students at New Jersey public colleges under a law Gov. Christie signed Thursday. The new law prohibits public colleges from entering into agreements that would allow students to be targeted in “direct merchandising of credit cards.” Story by Jonathan Lai for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Eight state attorneys general (West Virginia, Montana, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska and Ohio) have joined a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiffs allege there are no effective checks and balances in the law. The suit also challenges the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Story by John O’Brien for the West Virginia Record.
TransUnion has released its ranking of metropolitan areas with the highest and lowest consumer credit score in the country. The cities in the bottom ten are all in the South, while the cities in the top ten are scattered throughout the country. Two areas in northern California–San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (700) and San Francisco-Oakland-Freemont (696)–have the highest scores. Memphis is the area with the lowest credit score with 638. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.
The city of Springfield is banking on an unusual source of revenue next fiscal year: Visa cash-back rewards. The city plans to expand its use of the popular cash-back reward program by seeing if vendors are willing to be paid by credit card instead of check. PNC bank offered to provide the city with a 0.005 percent rebate on credit card purchases already made this year. Under that arrangement, the city would receive about $7,000 for making about $1.4 million in credit card purchases. But if the city spends $2 million, the cash-back reward increases to 0.95 percent of purchases, or about $20,000. The revenue would go into the city’s corporate fund. Story by Deana Stroisch for the State Journal Register.
A new program from American Express lets Twitter users post special hashtags to buy gift cards and certain products from Xbox and Amazon. The credit card issuer said that holders of eligible American Express cards will first have to link their cards with their Twitter accounts. Once the tweet is sent, the products are sent to the cardholder’s billing address. American Express said people’s credit card information is not shared with Twitter or merchants, so even if hackers gain access to someone’s Twitter account, they won’t be able to get their credit card information. Story by the Associated Press.
Growing federal student loan debt and potential changes to how such loans are treated under bankruptcy could be a “train wreck” for U.S. taxpayers, Discover Financial Services President Roger Hochschild said. The executive defended his company’s foray into the student lending market and says it has higher underwriting standards when approving loan applicants. However, he accused the federal government, which now controls the majority of student lending, of lax underwriting. Story by Andrew Johnson and Al Yoon for the Wall Street Journal.
Small investors in the currency market may soon find their credit cards denied. Industry overseers, concerned that retail investors are racking up credit card debt to bet on currencies, are considering a ban on using the plastic to pay for trades. Several companies that operate retail currency-trading platforms said a credit card ban would be the latest in a series of rulings by the NFA and government regulators that have made it more difficult to operate in the U.S., including lower caps on customer leverage and an increase in the amount of capital brokerages must hold in reserve. Story by Stephen Bernard for the Wall Street Journal.
The Vatican has sidestepped EU banking rules by turning to a Swiss company to restore card payments in its museums after they were suspended over concerns that the city-state was not doing enough to prevent money laundering. Pope Benedict had made cleaning up the Vatican’s reputation for murky finances one of his priorities, introducing new rules and hiring a top Swiss financial lawyer to raise standards to international levels. Story by Mark Thompson for CNN Money.
Based on the 1000+ cards in the LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index, the average advertised APR for credit cards is 14.36 percent, slightly above last week’s average of 14.35 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.35 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.24 percent.