LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–July 2, 2015
The Postal Service Wants You to Bank at Your Post Office
Elizabeth Warren would like to change the way you bank. The Massachusetts Senator and consumer advocate firebrand may not be running for president. But her backing of the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to begin offering budget-priced banking services to U.S. savers could remake the American landscape regardless. In May, USPS admitted to losing $1.5 billion in its most recent fiscal quarter. Last month, though, the USPS Office of Inspector General refloated an idea to close the Post Office’s budget gap. Simply put, the Post Office should turn itself into a bank. It would begin expanding the kinds of financial services it offers, permitting “unbanked” and “underbanked” customers to take out small loans, cash checks, pay bills, and open savings accounts–all at their local post office. According to the Inspector General, entering this market could help USPS reap as much as $10 billion in annual revenue–and close its budget gap with a resounding snap. Story by Rich Smith for Daily Finance.
Card Breach at Trump Hotel Properties
The Trump Hotel Collection, a string of luxury hotel properties tied to business magnate and now Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, appears to be the latest victim of a credit card breach, according to data shared by several U.S.-based banks. Sources at several banks traced a pattern of fraudulent debit and credit card charges to accounts that had all been used at Trump hotels. Sources have little doubt that Trump properties in several U.S. locations–including Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York–are dealing with a card breach that appears to extend back to at least February 2015. Story by Brian Krebs for Krebs On Security.
Tourists Are Left in Lurch by Greek Crisis
Greece’s unexpected call for a July 5 referendum on the economic policies creditors want–which could push the country into bankruptcy and out of the euro–is catching up with tourists. Automated-teller machines are running dry and many businesses are no longer accepting credit cards. The government said it would close its banks on Monday for six days to prevent the banking system from collapsing. Foreign visitors who find themselves unable to pay for services or meals may have to cut vacations short, just as Greece’s vital summer tourism season gets into full swing. Story by Costas Paris for The Wall Street Journal.
Feds Take Action Against Sellers of Non-Existent Credit or Identity Theft Monitoring Services
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, announced an action against two “credit card add-on product vendors”–sellers of services such as identity theft protection or credit monitoring–for billing customers for add-on services they never actually received. The two companies, Intersections, Inc. and Affinion Group Holdings, Inc., must pay almost $9.6 million combined in consumer refunds and penalties. The CFPB said that under the proposed consent orders, Affinion would pay $6.8 million to cover refunds for eligible consumers plus an additional $1.9 million in civil penalties, and Intersections would pay $55,000 for refunds and $1.2 million in penalties. Story by Jennifer Abel for Consumer Affairs.
Barclay Launches Apple Pay Competitor In UK
Barclaycard is trying to beat the competition by releasing a contactless payment system ahead of Apple Pay’s UK launch next month. The mobile payment solution, known as bPay, comes in three forms, allowing customers to pay for transactions on the go via a wristband, sticker or key fob. Currently, Barclays is the only major bank not to support Apple Pay in the UK. The bPay wristband was launched over a year ago, but the new version of the program gives customers multiple ways to pay with NFC technology. Any Visa or MasterCard registered in the UK can be paired with the corresponding bPay smartphone app–not just cards from Barclaycard. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.
Got a New Plenti Card? Better Check the Fine Print
The new Plenti card from American Express promises to bring order to chaos by combining all your loyalty programs – and the points you earn—from hundreds of retailers into one. But there’s a big catch to that claim that’s easy to miss: while you can earn Plenti points at 10 bricks-and-mortar retailers, including AT&T, Macy’s and Rite Aid, and from hundreds of on-line retailers, right now you can only redeem them at four–Macy’s, Rite Aid, Exxon and Mobil stations. That’s right; you can earn points at AT&T, but not spend them there. Story by Herb Weisbaum for NBC News.
Most Americans Want More Information about Data Breaches
A staggering number of American consumers want to know more about data breaches than what companies have provided them, according to new research from the Zix Corporation. 84% of Americans said the best way for retailers to maintain consumer trust after a data breach is to immediately send out a notification and keep consumers informed throughout the investigation process. 92% said they believe a company should have to report a data breach to their entire customer base, no matter the size of the breach. 70% of consumers said they stay up-to-date about data breaches, but only 51% considered themselves knowledgeable about cybersecurity. Story by Natalie Rutledge for LowCards.com.
J.P. Morgan Expands Prepaid Card Uses
J.P. Morgan Chase is revamping its prepaid debit-card program and the way it assesses if consumers qualify for a checking account. Under an agreement the bank has reached with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, J.P. Morgan Chase will give customers of its Liquid prepaid debit card access to online bill payment and let them use the bank’s person-to-person payment service. Story by Robin Sidel of The Wall Street Journal.
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 14.62 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.45 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.52 percent.