LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–December 21, 2017

December 21, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Google Gaining On Amazon In e-Commerce Market While Retailers Left Behind
Amazon remains the top online destination for U.S. shoppers seeking products, but Google and other search engines narrowed the gap over the past year. About 49 per cent of online shoppers visit Amazon first when searching for products, down from 55 per cent in 2016. Google and other search engines followed at 36 per cent, up from 28 per cent. Consumers visited individual retailers’ websites first only 15 per cent of the time, compared with 16 per cent last year. Being thought of first by consumers for product searches helps Amazon maintain its lead in e-commerce. Online retail spending in the U.S. will grow about 16 per cent this year to $453 billion. Google needs shoppers to use its search engine to help protect its leading position in digital advertising, which will generate $35 billion for the company this year, according to EMarketer. Story by Spencer Soper for Bloomberg

Fed Study Finds Continued Growth in Credit Card Payments
Americans increasingly relied on credit cards to make payments in 2016, and made more of those payments remotely, according to new data the Federal Reserve released Thursday. The number of credit card payments grew 10.2% last year, to 37.3 billion, compared with an annual growth rate of 8.1% over the previous three years. The Fed attributed the increase in part to “continued strong growth” in the number of remote payments, such as online shopping and bill paying, which represented 22.2% of all general-purpose credit- and debit-card payments. Remote payments increased 1.5% from 2015, the Fed said. By value, remote payments represented 44% of all general-purpose card payments. Story by Kate Davidson for The Wall Street Journal

Many Americans Don’t Have A Plan To Pay Off Their Debts
In June, cumulative U.S. household debt reached $12.84 trillion, a $114 billion increase from the first quarter. Four 4 in 5 Americans are in the red, according to a Lending Tree report. More than a quarter of those with debt don’t have a plan to pay it off. Lack of planning can lead to plenty of financial struggles, from late payments and credit problems to extra months (even years) in debt. Nearly 1 in 5 millennials has had to ask for money from a friend or relative versus 16 percent of Gen Xers and 9 percent of baby boomers. Story by Catherine Campo for CNBC

Chase Freedom Rewards Users for Using Mobile Wallets
Chase is paying their customers to make transactions on their mobile wallet. The company announced that Chase Freedom cardholders will receive an additional 5% in cash back rewards during the first quarter of 2018 when they pay with a mobile wallet, including Android Pay, Apple Pay, Chase Pay, and Samsung Pay. Chase Freedom customers already receive 5% cash back on purchases at gas stations and on Internet/Cable phone services during the upcoming quarter. All other purchases receive 1% cash back. Story by Natalie Rutledge for LowCards.com

Buyers Beware of Tampered Gift Cards
Prepaid gift cards make popular presents and no-brainer stocking stuffers, but before you purchase one be on the lookout for signs that someone may have tampered with it. A perennial scam that picks up around the holidays involves thieves who pull back and then replace the decals that obscure the card’s redemption code, allowing them to redeem or transfer the card’s balance online after the card is purchased by an unwitting customer. Story by Brian Krebs for Krebs On Security

Visa Says New Chip Cards Slashed Counterfeit Fraud By 66%
According to the Visa press release, counterfeit fraud at U.S. chip-enabled merchants was down 66 percent in June of 2017 compared to June of 2015. What’s more, U.S. financial institutions have issued 462 million chip cards to consumers, and 2.5 million, or 55 percent, of U.S. storefronts now accept cards with the EMV chip. According to the company, as of September, there were $59.4 billion of chip transactions, up from $4.8 billion in September of 2015. The start of 2017 marked the first full year since the U.S. started moving to EMV chip cards. At that time, Visa said that counterfeit fraud had dropped by 52 percent, and was down 14 percent across all merchants during that first year. Story in StockNews.com

Fannie, Freddie Mull Broader Credit Scores For Mortgage Approvals
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have for years considered switching to alternative methods of assessing borrowers’ credit scores and on Wednesday the two mortgage finance giants took a step closer to that goal. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, put out a request for input from any “interested parties that could be impacted” if the two enterprises change how they gauge creditworthiness, a change that regulators admit might not be pressed into service for a few more years. Fannie and Freddie currently rely on scores produced by an older product from the Fair Isaac Corporation, commonly known as FICO. But housing industry lobbies, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders, as well as consumer groups, have pushed for alternatives. Story by Andrea Riquier for MarketWatch

Interest Rates Will Increase Again Making 2018 Painful for Consumers
Hello, inflation. Central bankers are expected to raise rates at least three four times in 2018, which means consumers have faced five increases since December 2015. The burden is increasing for those are already saddled with credit card debt and student loans. Story by Ellen Chang for The Street

Bitcoin And Cryptocurrency 101: Understanding The Basics
Cryptocurrencies, also often referred to as coins, are digital currencies that are secured through one-way cryptography, the enciphering and deciphering of messages in secret code or cipher. Many of them rely on public blockchain technology-a distributed ledger of all transactions that is decentralized and unable to be changed under most circumstances as long as nobody controls more than 50% of the computing power on the network. Unlike traditional currencies, they are not controlled by any central government or authority. In the case of some of them (Bitcoin, Monero, and Litecoin for example), the supply of new coins is controlled by a process called mining, a computationally intensive process where computers (mining nodes) compete against each other to secure the network by solving mathematical equations, collecting bitcoins as a reward if they are the first to create a new valid block, which is then broadcasted to the rest of  the network and added to the blockchain. Story in Benzinga

High-Tech Lenders Target The Decades-Old Store Credit Card
The once-hot online lending industry has been battered by scandal and losses since last year, but one of the oldest forms of lending – store credit – is increasingly attracting tech companies aiming to supplant a retailer’s credit card. One such lender, San Francisco startup Affirm, is attracting investment and large customers by using a new approach to underwriting that allows it to approve more borrowers than traditional store credit cards. Max Levchin, Affirm’s founder who also co-founded one of the earliest digital payments companies, PayPal, boasts that Affirm approves 126 percent more borrowers than Synchrony Financial, the largest issuer of private-label credit cards. Companies like Affirm are using smartphone apps, online messaging with borrowers and instantaneous approvals, removing the paperwork from retail lending. Story by Heather Somerville for Reuters



The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 21, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for LowCards.com for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue