LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–December 6, 2013
Why You Should Use A Masked Credit Card To Shop Online
Whenever you buy something with a credit card online, you also have to provide your name, number and address, information seen by the processing banks as well as the merchant. What if you don’t want them to know who you are, or you worry that someone may hack into the merchant’s files? Boston privacy company Abine has introduced masked credit cards that allow you to use their address, any name you want and a one-time number. Once a user signs up, the program quickly fills out the merchant’s online form, making the service faster than entering out your card details each time. This week the company announced that through Christmas, they are waiving their normal $5 monthly fee for MaskMe. Story by Adam Tanner for Forbes.
How to Exploit Store Credit Cards
Consumers can save hundreds of dollars this holiday shopping season by signing up for store credit cards. Many people are wary of store cards because they often carry sky-high interest rates that can quickly wipe away any savings from special discounts offered to holders of store cards. Shoppers who pay off the balance each month can use the cards–and the fringe benefits they sometimes bring–to secure substantial price breaks. Some cards give consumers discounts of 10% to 20% on their first purchase. In some cases, retailers also cut 5% to 10% off the bill each time customers swipe their cards to make a purchase at the store or on its site. Story by Annamaria Andriotis and Catey Hill for The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. to Begin Regulating Largest Student Loan Servicing Firms
Students who get the runaround from companies handling their college loans soon may get help from the federal government. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will begin regulating the nation’s largest student-loan servicing firms, which manage student accounts, process monthly payments and respond to borrower questions. Though they don’t make the loans, the companies are the main point of contact for borrowers. They effectively serve as gatekeepers that have enormous influence over requests for deferments or loan modifications. The new regulation will extend oversight to non-bank firms, such as student-loan giant Sallie Mae Inc. Story by Walter Hamilton for the Los Angeles Times.
First Data is Drowning in Debt
If you think your credit card bill is high, check out the debt on the company that likely processes your credit card transactions, runs your neighborhood ATMs or verifies that your checks will clear. First Data Corp. is drowning in about $23 billion in debt, paying credit card-type interest as high as 11.75% at a time when the yield on a 10-year Treasury note is 2.7%. First Data reported a $3.8 billion loss in 2008, and has lost money every year since–more than a half-billion dollars in 2012. It reported a $220 million loss for the quarter ended in September. Story by Al Lewis for The Wall Street Journal.
Slight Increase in Credit Card Late Payments
There has been a slight increase in credit card late payments between the second and third quarters of 2013. The second quarter reported 90+ day late payments at 1.27% for the nation, while the third quarter showed 1.36%. While this marginal jump may have some analysts concerned, it is important to note that the third quarter rates for 2013 are lower than those of 2012. Last year, there was a 1.5% delinquency rate for the same period. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.
Wisdom Gleaned from Money Polls, Studies
Amid this year’s deluge of holiday spending surveys by companies trying to grab some attention, several other recent polls and studies are addressing arguably more important issues, such as financial bullying, money spent on financial literacy and whether “Made in USA” is better. Story by Gregory Karp for the Chicago Tribune.
Bitcoin Unlikely to Replace Credit Cards or Cash
Bitcoins probably won’t become a popular method of exchange as competing “crypto-currencies” crowd the market, confusing merchants and sending them back to credit cards and cash. Bitcoins, which exists as software in an open online system, gained credibility after law enforcement and securities agencies said at U.S. Senate hearings last month that it could be a legitimate means of exchange. Story by Gerritt De Vynck for Bloomberg Businessweek.
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 14.42 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.30 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.31 percent.