LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–May 27, 2016

May 27, 2016, Written By Lynn Oldshue
weekly-credit-card-update (1)

Ocean’s 100: Thieves Steal $12.7 Million from ATMs in Just Three Hours
The Ocean’s 11 movies are spectacular stories about crazy heists that take lots of effort, careful planning and just a touch of skillful improvisation to pull off. But it turns out that jobs like this exist in real life, too. A few days ago, 100 coordinated thieves stole no less than $12.7 million (1.4bn yen) from ATMs in Japan. The entire thing took just three hours, and no suspect was apprehended since then. The operation was orchestrated by an organized crime ring. 100 people targeted 1,400 ATMs and used fake credit cards that contained details stolen from an unidentified South African bank. Thieves stole precisely 100,000 yen per withdrawal. That means each card was used only for a single transaction worth around $914, but the grand total was just under $13 million. Story by Chris Smith for BGR.

Discover Now Offers Free Credit Scores to All Consumers
Discover launched a new website that allows consumers to look at their credit score for free online. Known as the Discover Scorecard, this program provides a free FICO credit score, along with basic information about the person’s credit history. Discover has been providing free FICO scores on credit card statements since November 2013, but this new program does not require users to be a Discover cardholder. By entering some basic personal information on CreditScorecard.com, users can gain access to important details about their credit. FICO scores are used by 90% of the top lenders in the United States, so having access to these scores gives consumers a good idea of whether they qualify for a loan or line of credit. In addition to seeing their credit score, users can see recent credit inquiries, payment histories, revolving credit usage, and more. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Balance Due: Credit Card Debt Nears $1 Trillion as Banks Push Plastic
U.S. credit card balances are on track to hit $1 trillion this year, as banks aggressively push their plastic and consumers grow more comfortable carrying debt. That sum would come close to the all-time peak of $1.02 trillion set in July 2008, just before the financial crisis intensified, and could signal an easing of frugal habits ingrained by the recession. The boom has been driven by steady economic conditions and an improving job market that have made creditworthy consumers less reluctant to take on debt. In addition, lenders have signed up millions of subprime consumers who previously weren’t able to get credit. Story by AnnaMaria Andriotis and Robin Sidel for The Wall Street Journal.

Americans are Pretty Clueless on Credit Cards and Scores
Financial education isn’t standardized in the United States, leading many Americans to rely on loved ones or the news media for guidance and manage their money through trial and error. As a result, they have significant blind spots about basic concepts. The survey of more than 2,000 adults shows that most Americans don’t understand the effects that common actions have on their credit scores, largely underestimate how many credit scores they have, and don’t understand how credit card interest works. These knowledge gaps can be costly, resulting in high interest rates and low, or no, credit card rewards. Story by Erin El Issa for USA Today.

The One Time It’s OK to Pile Up Credit Card Debt
A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at job losses, examining how credit access affects the way Americans go about finding new jobs. It turns out that credit can often help jobseekers get back on their feet, especially those with lower income and fewer savings. When workers lose their jobs, the study found, a higher credit limit allows them to take longer to find a new one. The study linked up an employment database with millions of TransUnion credit reports from 2001 to 2008. It showed that a credit limit increase equal to 10 percent of a person’s prior annual salary can translate into their spending as many as three weeks more looking for a job. Longer unemployment might sound like a bad thing, but it’s often a mistake to jump at the first job opportunity because you’re desperate for money. When unemployed people had access to more credit, the study found, they were choosier. They ended up with better jobs a year later, both higher-paying and at larger, more productive companies. It’s not really credit card spending that allowed people to be pickier. It’s the fact that they knew that cash was available if they needed it, giving them confidence to hold out a little longer. Story by Ben Steverman for Bloomberg.

Satan’s Credit Card: What the Mark of the Beast Taught Me about the Future of Money
It’s the dead of winter in Stockholm and I’m sitting in a very small room inside the very inaptly named Calm Body Modification clinic. A few feet away sits the syringe that will, soon enough, plunge into the fat between my thumb and forefinger and deposit a glass-encased microchip roughly the size of an engorged grain of rice. My choice to get microchipped was not ceremonial. I was here in Stockholm, a city that’s supposedly left cash behind, to see out the extreme conclusion of a monthlong experiment to live without cash, physical credit cards, and, eventually, later in the month, state-backed currency altogether, in a bid to see for myself what the future of money–as is currently being written by Silicon Valley–might look like. Story by Charlie Warzel for CNBC.

GM to Issue Debit Cards for Overstating Miles per Gallon on Select Vehicles
Drivers who purchased a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, or Buick Enclave will soon be receiving a debit card worth up to $1,500. General Motors is issuing these cards as financial compensation for overstating the fuel economy of those vehicles by 1-2 miles per gallon. Approximately 135,000 drivers in the United States and another 11,000 in Canada may be eligible to receive the debit cards, including those who are leasing one of those vehicles. People who actually purchased the vehicle also have the option to get an extended protection plan instead of the card-48 month/60,000 miles, instead of the factory 36 month/36,000 mile warranty. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Most Prepaid Debit Cards Hide Fees
For consumers without a checking account, a prepaid, reloadable debit card can be a handy thing. But be careful. New research found seven out of 10 of these products fail to fully disclose fees to consumers. The report reviewed the disclosures on the packaging of 10 popular prepaid cards found at major retailers, as well as payday lenders. The study found American Express Bluebird, American Express Serve, and Green Dot Visa Gold were the only three to properly disclose fees, under guidelines established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Story by Mark Huffman for Consumer Affairs.

Why Mobile Banking Is Key To Helping The Underserved
A new report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shows that mobile banking can empower underserved customers to have greater control over their finances and ultimately open up access to mainstream banking. It identifies the steps financial services companies can take in order to better meet the needs of the underserved consumer, based on qualitative research with both consumers and industry stakeholders. Underserved households–those considered to be either unbanked or underbanked—typically do not have an account at an insured financial institution or if they do have an account, they utilize alternative nonbank financial services. The FDIC voiced its commitment to “expanding economic inclusion in the financial mainstream by ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, secure and affordable banking services.” 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 14.72 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.64 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.47 percent.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 27, 2016. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.