LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014, Written By Lynn Oldshue
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Airlines Make Less on Bag Fees While Promoting Credit Cards
Airlines made 4% less on baggage fees in 2013 than in the previous year, according to federal statistics released last week. That sounds like great news for consumers, but it’s only part of the story. Airlines have been waiving bag fees as an incentive to get travelers to sign up for fee-generating airline loyalty reward credit cards. Bag revenue collected by American Airlines dropped 9% from $557 million in 2012 to $506 million in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Airlines are not required to disclose income from loyalty reward programs, and American declined to say to what extent credit card fees made up the difference. Story by Hugo Martin for the Los Angeles Times.

Americans Cut Credit Card Usage and Debt
The economic downturn of 2008 sent many Americans running to credit cards to help cover their bills. Now, six years later, credit card use is declining. According to a Gallup poll conducted in April, the average American only holds 2.6 credit cards now, compared to 2.9 in 2008. Among those that do have credit cards, the average number of cards owned is 3.7, the lowest number Gallup has seen since it began periodically measuring these financial habits in 2001. The number of people who said they do not own credit cards at all has also declined, from 29% in 2008 to 22% in 2014. The poll found 33% of credit card holders carry a balance from one month to the next, a record low since 2001. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Use Credit Cards with Care While Traveling
It’s May: The school year is winding down; summer travel plans are revving up. Whether it’s a road trip on the nation’s freeways or a jet flight across the world, chances are you’ll be using a credit card on those travels. Before you depart, here’s a roundup of some good-to-know credit card travel tips. Story by Claudia Buck for the Sacramento Bee.

Lawmakers Charged Tanning Salons, Payments to Clowns on Campaign Credit Cards
From tanning salons to the hiring of clowns, a number of questionable campaign expenses by state legislators were being examined by Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission before its work was abruptly shut down. Internal documents obtained by CityandStateNY.com show that some lawmakers ran up big tabs on their campaign credit cards without itemizing the expenses as required by law. State Sen. George Maziarz had more than $140,000 in unitemized expenses over six years, including payments to Do-do the clown. And Sen. Patrick Gallivan had $80,000 in questionable credit card spending, including for cigars, tanning salons and casinos. Story by Kenneth Lovett for the New York Daily News.

Military to Get Refunds on Overcharged Student Loans
Some 60,000 active-duty service members could get their money back from lender Sallie Mae Bank for overpaying on their student loans, the Department of Justice said. Sallie Mae agreed to pay nearly $100 million in fines to federal regulators for overcharging military members with higher interest rates and late fees on government student loans as far back as 2005. Federal law discounts interest rates on all student loans for active duty military service members, capping them at 6%. Story by Jennifer Liberto for CNN.

The Best Apps to Pay Friends Back
Venmo is one of many apps aiming to make it easier to instantly pay or get paid by friends. And as I learned on that trip, it is quickly becoming a verb among the younger set, mostly because of its social features. Yes, even our private financial transactions are going the way of Instagram with likes and comments. Venmo can be surprisingly fun and convenient, though after testing the apps, I found Square Cash to be faster and easier to use. Story by Joanna Stern at the Wall Street Journal.

Israeli Startup Touts a Credit Card-Hack Warning System
With credit card fraud and financial data theft rising alarmingly around the world, an Israeli fraud-watchdog startup says it can tell you when your credit card details have been stolen by hackers–pretty much in real time. BillGuard, a company that makes a monitoring app that surfaces erroneous or disputed merchant charges on consumers’ credit cards, is adding a hacker-breach notification system to its offering. Story by Amir Mizroch for 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 14.45 percent, slightly lower than last week’s 14.49 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.45 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.26 percent.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 16, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.