LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 2, 2018

February 2, 2018, Written By Bill Hardekopf

US Data Breaches Hit All-Time High
The Identity Theft Resource Center, a U.S. non-profit organization set up to help ID theft victims, reports that in 2017, the number of U.S. data breaches reached an all-time high. In 2017, ITRC counted 1,579 U.S. breaches, up 45 percent from 2016. 55% hit the business sector; 24% hit the medical/healthcare industry. Of the 179 million records exposed last year, nearly 158 million were Social Security numbers, accounting for 88% of all exposed records, according to ITRC. Nearly 20% of breaches resulted in credit and debit card information being exposed. Story by Mathew J. Schwartz for Bank Info Security

Education Dept to Test Putting Federal Aid on Debit Cards
The Education Department will be launching a pilot program to place financial aid dollars on debit cards, a move that would allow officials to track how that federal aid is being spent. The program would begin next month and include up to 100,000 students. Currently, institutions receive the federal dollars, applying them to students’ tuition bills and then provide students with the excess funds. Under the program, students would receive the funds on the debit cards. The card would also limit what students could spend the federal dollars on. Students can currently use additional federal dollars that aren’t used on their tuition to cover whatever costs they like. Story by Jacqueline Thomsen for The Hill

Venmo Can Now Instantly Transfer Money to Your Debit Card for 25 Cents
PayPal has finally rolled out its Instant Transfer feature on Venmo after first announcing that support would be coming last summer. The option allows Venmo users to pay an extra 25 cents to deposit funds to their debit cards in a matter of minutes rather than days. Instant Transfer promises to transfer funds to your account within 30 minutes even on holidays and weekends. A free option will still remain for those who don’t mind waiting the one to three days for payments to process. Venmo instant transfers will only work with Visa and Mastercard debit cards. The move comes after major US banks formed an alliance and launched Zelle, a competing peer-to-peer payment processing service that offers instant withdrawals for free and does not charge for transfers between different banks. Story by Natt Garun for The Verge

Capital One Wants to Reward Customers for Staying at a Hotel of Their Choice
Here’s one way companies are competing for your loyalty: acknowledging that consumers are more fickle than ever. Capital One will offer 10 times the miles to customers who stay at hotels of your choice booked through Hotels.com, both companies announced Tuesday. Typically, those cards offer just twice the miles on purchases. The offer applies to Capital One Venture or Venture One cards. The partnership targets consumers who don’t want to be tied to a particular hotel brand. Consumers can also still participate in Hotels.com’s loyalty program, while getting the benefits of the increased credit-card rewards. Story by Maria LaMagna for MarketWatch

Starbucks Launches Co-Branded Visa Credit Card
Coffee drinkers now have a new way to get their caffeine buzz. Starbucks is launching a co-branded Visa credit card on Thursday that enables cardholders to rack up points, called Stars, redeemable for drinks and food at more than 8,000 participating Starbucks. Customers may earn points on purchases at Starbucks and anywhere Visa is accepted. The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card is named for the company’s loyalty program and cardholders automatically become members who get exclusive perks. Story by Zlati Meyer for USA Today

Goldman Sachs May Enter Credit Card Industry
Goldman Sachs may soon join the credit card industry. This week, the banking and investment firm acquired Final, a credit card startup. Final, which issued virtual cards, advertised itself as a more secure payment option, as it allowed cardholders to use a unique credit card number for every merchant and the ability to deactivate card numbers. Since card numbers were constantly changing, consumers did not need to worry about their permanent card details being stolen in a breach. As a part of the deal, engineers and production managers who created the first Final card will join the Goldman Sachs team. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com

Mastercard Profit Tops Street on Holiday Shopping Rush; Shares Hit Record
Mastercard’s quarterly profit topped estimates on Thursday, boosted by a busy holiday shopping period that saw more people swiping credit and debit cards for larger sums. The company’s shares rose as much as 4.4 percent to an all-time high. Growth in the U.S. economy over the last quarter also helped the world’s No. 2 payments network, which, like bigger rival Visa largely banks on the health of the economy and customers’ willingness to loosen purse strings in order to generate revenue from credit- and debit-card transactions. U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the country’s economic activity, accelerated at a 3.8 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, the fastest in three years, as household incomes continued inching up. Story by Aparajita Saxena for Reuters

More Credit Cards Piling On Rewards For Mobile Wallet Spending
Call it proof we’re living in the future: These days, it’s easier than ever to pay with your smartphone at checkout, and earn extra credit card rewards while doing it. As the number of mobile payments continues to grow, some major issuers have begun offering bonus rewards for mobile wallet purchases. These offers are potentially quite valuable, especially if you pay with a mobile wallet often. Here’s why a few credit card companies are offering them. In mobile wallets, as with old-fashioned wallets, your cards have a pecking order. Some mobile wallets prompt you to select which card appears first. With others, the card used most recently shows up. Regardless of how yours works, issuers want their cards to rise to the top. Slowly but surely, mobile wallets are becoming more widely used, and issuers are taking note. In turn, such rewards could help change consumer behavior.  Consider how credit cards became much more widely used around the time they began offering rewards. Story by Claire Tsosie for Forbes

Starbucks Talks Up Blockchain as Mobile Ordering Reaches 11% of Transactions
Starbucks, the coffee chain with more than 28,000 locations worldwide, said its mobile order and pay service grew to 11% of transactions in U.S. company-operated stores in Q1 2018 from 10% in the prior quarter. The Starbucks Rewards loyalty program helped to drive mobile growth with an 11% membership gain to 14.2 million from the prior year. Member spending made up 37% of U.S. sales. The company, which now has the ability to offer mobile order and pay to customers who don’t belong to its loyalty program, plans to ramp up the service to all customers in March, company president and CEO Kevin Johnson said in a conference call with investors. The growing popularity of mobile payment is leading the company to test cashless stores in the U.S. Story by Robert Williams for Mobile Marketer

Coinbase Warns That Banks Now Process Credit Card Crypto Purchases as ‘Cash Advances’
The No. 1 cryptocurrency exchange on Thursday told customers that payments for digital assets on its platform are being processed as “cash advances,” which could result in additional fees. The change may not be new to some users of Coinbase since the company has been processing purchases in the U.S. and Canada as cash advances for the past several weeks, which crypto enthusiasts have pointed out. However, it is the first time San Francisco-based Coinbase, which operates in two dozen states and overseas and has about 13 million users, has publicly acknowledged the change. Story by Mark Decambre for MarketWatch



The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 2, 2018. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of LowCards.com and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf