LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–December 5, 2014

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–December 5, 2014

December 5, 2014         Written By Lynn Oldshue

What Happens When You Swipe Your Card?
This holiday shopping season, you might worry that every time you swipe your credit or debit card some criminal might be swiping your account number and with good reason. The number of reported, illegal intrusions into the computer systems of U.S. companies is at a record high this year and climbing. The hacking of Target, Home Depot, Staples and other top retailers made headlines. Behind the headlines are two separate crimes with two sets of criminals. Sophisticated cyberthieves steal your credit card information. Common criminals buy it and go on shopping sprees–racking up billions of dollars in fraudulent purchases. The cost of the fraud is calculated into the price of every item you buy. When computer crooks swipe your card number, we all end up paying the price. Story by Bill Whitaker for CBS News.

Credit Card Rewards: The Deals Get Sweeter
Spending money with a credit card is getting more rewarding. Lenders are giving more cash back to cardholders, offering deeper discounts on selected purchases and making it easier to earn free travel. More cards allow borrowers to postpone making interest payments while collecting such benefits. The incentives can be particularly profitable during the holiday season, when many consumers spend heavily. Consumers took on $43 billion in new credit card debt in last year’s fourth quarter, compared with $11.8 billion in the prior quarter. Story by AnnaMaria Andriotis for The Wall Street Journal.

Changes Coming to Credit Card Readers for Small Merchants
Over the past few years, small merchants have grown their businesses and accepted credit cards for the first time without having to pay big fees that turned them off initially to taking credit. But big changes are coming, in the form of an all-new type of credit card, and all but certain higher costs. Companies like Square, PayPal, Intuit and Amazon.com have forged a cottage industry to support mom-and-pop merchants at craft fairs, farmer’s markets and barber shops with free credit card readers that connect to a smartphone, allowing vendors to take payments by swiping the card and using a software app for processing. Story by Jefferson Graham for USA Today.

Protect Yourself While Shopping
Over the past year, so many data breaches at retail chains and restaurants have come to light that it’s hard to keep track. So what does that mean for shoppers, as the holiday season gets underway? Although it’s unnerving to have any sort of card information stolen–whether by hackers or through an old-fashioned pilfered wallet–consumer and security experts say the fallout may be less damaging if shoppers avoid debit cards and use credit cards instead. Story by Ann Carrns for The New York Times.

Preparing for Chip-and-PIN Cards in the United States
Already, retailers like Walmart and Walgreens have outlined plans to issue E.M.V. store-branded credit cards. And President Obama announced in October that cards issued by the federal government would come with encrypted microchips and four-digit codes as standard, beginning in 2015. In total, roughly 70 percent of credit cards and 40 percent of debit cards are expected to use the technology by the end of next year, though the introduction of upgraded checkout systems will not be completed until the end of the decade. Story by Mark Scott for The New York Times.

MasterCard Boosts Dividend, Unveils New Buyback
MasterCard said that its board increased the credit card company’s dividend and approved a new share-buyback program. The company said it boosted its dividend by 45% to 16 cents a share, putting the yield at about 0.7%. MasterCard’s new buyback program is pegged at $3.75 billion. It will take effect once the company’s existing $3.5 billion plan winds down. The company said it had about $275 million remaining on the plan as of Dec. 1. The move comes as the company, along with rival Visa, has delivered stronger financial performances lately, as more consumers rely on credit cards over cash payment options. Story by Michael Calia for The Wall Street Journal.

New Year’s Credit Card Resolutions
We’re approaching another new year, which means we all have a chance to focus and fix areas of our life with some New Year’s resolutions. One resolution may be to get your credit card account in order so you can lower your balance and boost your credit score. Here are some ideas to get you started. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

More Borrowers Fall Behind on Car Payments, Report Shows
An increasing number of borrowers are falling behind on their car payments, even as the total amount of outstanding debt reaches new heights, according to the latest report by Experian, the credit and research firm. In a presentation, Experian said the balance of loans that were 60 days delinquent increased 27 percent, to roughly $4 billion, in the third quarter from the same period a year ago. Signs of trouble in the market come after a significant increase in lending to people with damaged credit and limited financial means. Story by Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg for The New York Times.

Will New Student Loan Options Make a Dent in Debt?
Millions of Americans live with student debt for years, even decades after they graduate from college. Now, two of the nation’s largest private student lenders have introduced options to allow borrowers to modify the terms on their loans. Story by Hari Sreenivasan for PBS.

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 14.50 percent, slightly higher than last week’s average of 14.49 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.44 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.42 percent.


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