Why More Americans Will Fall Behind on Their Credit Card Bills This Year
A quarterly report issued last month by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said that, although our total debt dropped by $74 billion in the third quarter, our credit card debt actually rose by $2 billion in the same time period. The average borrower had $4,996 in debt as of the third quarter of 2012. That amount is expected to rise to $5,446 by the end of this year, the highest it's been since 2009. Story by Martha White for Time.
Social Security Benefits Go Paperless on March 1
Anyone receiving Social Security or other federal benefits has until March 1 to switch to electronic payments or prepaid debit cards. In a cost saving measure, the government started a program in May 2011 to eventually eliminate paper checks. The government is still mailing over five million monthly checks, costing an estimated $4.6 million each month. Story by Natalie Rutledge for LowCards.com.
New Bank Rule: Sounds Boring, Actually a Big Deal
The new liquidity rules global banking regulators released are a big deal for the real economy. The rules were initially supposed to kick in in 2015; instead, they will be phased in gradually, and won't fully take effect until 2019. Banks will now be allowed to count some riskier assets toward their liquidity requirements. The looser liquidity rules mean the banks will be in a much riskier position. Story by Jacob Goldstein for NPR.
Target Makes Price-Matching a Permanent Policy
Target is continuing its holiday program of matching lower prices offered by select online retailers on identical items. If a Target shopper has proof of a lower price on an identical product from certain online competitors, the shopper can request a price match at the guest services desk. The price matching is also good for seven days after a purchase at Target. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.
Despite Promise, Federal Tax-Refund Debit Cards a No-Go
The MyAccountCard tax-refund debit card program wasn't renewed in 2012 and there are no plans to continue it because the number of people who ended up using the cards was small. Roughly 70 percent of tax refunds are issued electronically, and the Treasury is still seeking ways to increase that proportion--but not by using the model tried in the pilot program. Story by Ann Carrns for the New York Times.
Stricter Rules for Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
New mortgage rules the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will change how lenders decide if borrowers qualify for adjustable-rate mortgages. The new rules are intended to keep lenders from getting borrowers into mortgages they can't afford. Story by AnnaMaria Andriotis for Marketwatch.
A Financial Service for People Fed Up With Banks
Simple, an online banking start-up company based in Portland, Oregon offers its customers free checking accounts and data-rich analysis of their transactions and spending habits. Simple promises not to charge any fees for any services. The company, which began signing up customers late last year in a deliberately slow fashion, now has 20,000 and has processed transactions worth more than $200 million. Story by Jenna Wortham for the New York Times.
LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report
Based on the 1000+ cards in the LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index, the average advertised APR for credit cards is 14.35 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.35 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.04 percent.