LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 23, 2018

February 23, 2018, Written By Bill Hardekopf

Americans Prefer Bank Branches Over Mobile Apps for Opening New Accounts
Mobile banking apps keep getting better, but 60 percent of Americans would still rather open a new checking account in person at a bank branch than on a phone, tablet or desktop computer. The survey also found that half of U.S. customers feel that online-only banks are “less legitimate” than those with branches. The preference for visits to branch offices over online banking for some activity stems from being able to see someone to resolve any issues that may arise. Story by David Henry for Reuters

1 in 5 Americans Have More Credit Card Debt than Savings
Some Americans’ finances are on very thin ice. One in five Americans say they have more credit-card debt than they do in emergency savings, according to a report published Thursday from the personal-finance company Bankrate. Another 12% said they had no credit card debt, but they also had no savings. Bankrate surveyed 1,000 people during early February. But the report isn’t all bad news. More than half (58%) said they had more in emergency savings funds than in credit-card debt, the highest percentage Bankrate has ever had, tied with the amount who said this in 2015. Story by Maria LaMagna for MarketWatch

Google Launches New Mobile Payment System
The US technology giant Google has released Google Pay. This is its latest attempt to take a significant share of the growing mobile transactions market by confronting Apple Pay. The new app is Google’s third attempt to create a widespread payment service and replaces Android Pay and Google Wallet. Google Pay has two sections: “Home” showing recent transactions and offers for local businesses that accept Google Pay. And in the card section, the app stores digital versions of credit or debit cards. The introduction is not a surprise, because at the beginning of the year, Google announced it wants to unify all payment services under one service, and dropped the Android Pay brand, which has been carefully building up in recent years. Story by James McGovern for Finance Apprise

Amazon Expands Rewards for Prime Credit Card: 5% Cash Back at Whole Foods
Amazon Prime Credit Card users can earn 5% cash back for purchases made at Whole Foods Market. Non-Prime members who have the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card can earn 3% cash back for Whole Foods transactions. When the Prime credit card launched in January 2017, it offered 5% cash back for Amazon.com purchases, as well as 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. Those offers are still in place with the Whole Foods expansion. Prime and Visa Signature cardholders earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Amazon acquired Whole Foods last year for $13.7 billion, and since then, it has gradually incorporated the grocery store chain into its brand. Earlier this month, Amazon announced they will offer their two-hour Prime Now delivery service for Whole Foods orders in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach. The company plans to extend that service to other cities later this year. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com

Discover Extends Cashback to Debit Cards
Discover announced that it is making its no monthly fee, no minimum balance, free bill pay checking account even more rewarding.  Discover is extending its 1% cash back feature associated with its credit card to debit card transactions conducted on its Cashback Checking account. The account is now available to anyone, regardless of their current relationship with Discover. Story by Sarah Grotta for Payments Journal

Capital One to Close Bank-Based Brokerage Business
Capital One Financial Corp. is closing its small bank-branch-based brokerage business and is working to move some of the affected advisors to Advisor Group, the independent broker-dealer holding company, said people familiar with the plan. The McLean, Virginia-based bank company last month announced that it is closing its online brokerage business and selling its more than 1 million brokerage accounts to E*Trade Financial Corp. for $170 million. The wind-down of Capital One Investing and its in-branch broker-dealer that employs about 130 advisors, furthers the company’s decision to exit peripheral businesses and focus on its core banking and national credit-card operations. Story by Mason Braswell for Advisor Hub

Iran Becomes Latest Rogue State to Develop Its Own Cryptocurrency
Iran is considering the development of its own cryptocurrency, following in the footsteps of Venezuela. Both countries are the focus of U.S. sanctions. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro said late Tuesday that the country’s oil-backed “petro” cryptocurrency has raised the equivalent of more than $735 million. The nation’s official currency has lost much of its value amid recent political turmoil, prompting many locals to turn to digital currency bitcoin as a more stable store of value. But the government has arrested many who try to create their own holdings of bitcoin through the “mining” process. In the last few months, reports have also linked North Korea to cryptocurrency mining efforts and other attempts to use the digital currencies as a way to evade sanctions. Story by Evelyn Cheng for CNBC

Discover is Eliminating These 5 Credit Card Benefits in 2018
When’s the last time you looked at your credit card perks and benefits? If you have an account with Discover, there are some changes you need to know about. Clark.com has confirmed that effective February 28, the following cardmember benefits are going away: Extended Product Warranty, Return Guarantee, Purchase Protection, Auto Rental Insurance and Flight Accident Insurance. Story by Mike Timmermann for KIRO

Teampay Raises $4 Million So You Don’t Have to Steal Your CEO’s Credit Card Anymore
Few problems are as much of a headache for the modern corporate worker as buying things on the company’s dime. Companies are loathe to hand out credit cards to everyone in the building, but they also want their employees to do your job without having to fill out six forms in triplicate to requisition a pencil. They also want to control spending. That’s where Teampay comes in. The product allows companies to provide virtual credit cards to every employee, and then follows that up with a suite of approval workflow and analytics features that will make every CFO swoon and employees rejoice at the ease of buying services. The company announced today that it has raised $4 million in venture capital led by Rick Smith at Crosscut Ventures. Story by Danny Crichton for Tech Crunch

Amazon Invests in Debit Cards That Parents Can Use to Teach Their Children the Importance of Money
A company in Atlanta, Greenlight Financial Technology Inc., has developed a very special debit card that parents can use to teach some old-school lessons about saving and spending to the children of our electronic age. Amazon has invested in this company because it wants to connect the capabilities of the card (automating allowances, selecting businesses where children can spend, alerts for charges) to Alexa, its popular digital voice assistant. Story by Charles Mudede for The Stranger



The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 23, 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.
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