LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 9, 2018

February 9, 2018, Written By Bill Hardekopf

These US Cities Have the Highest Credit Card Debt
America’s credit card debt is the highest it’s ever been, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to Federal Reserve data. But where in the U.S. is that debt concentrated the most. The Washington, D.C., Dallas-Fort Worth and New York metropolitan areas have the highest average debt in absolute terms. The San Antonio metro area ranked highest in debt burden, followed by Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach and then Houston. Story by Helen Zhao for CNBC

Wave of Crypto Scams, Bitcoin’s Crash Spook Card Issuers
America’s largest banks had myriad worries in mind when they rushed this week to ban customers from using credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s gut-wrenching slide was just one of the threats. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup started to decline purchases as industry executives zeroed in on a variety of ways they could get burned, according to people briefed on the decisions. Publicly, JPMorgan cited the risk that borrowers might not repay. Behind the scenes, card issuers were also concerned about the protections they offer shoppers and their vulnerability to thieves. It can take days for buyers to receive their tokens, and if the instruments turn out to be fraudulent or illegal, cardholders may dispute the charges. Major crypto exchanges such as Coinbase eschew most tokens, but some initial coin offerings and smaller venues enable card purchases. Story by Jennifer Surane for Bloomberg

Apple Pay Pushes into E-Commerce
Apple Pay is partnering with Volusion, an e-commerce platform for small businesses, to create a “Buy Now” button for its merchants. Through the partnership, merchants can embed an Apple Pay “Buy Now” button into their product description pages, directing customers to the checkout page to purchase their goods using the mobile wallet. Integrating Apple Pay will eliminate the need for customers buying on these sites to enter their payment, shipping, and contact information every time they make an online purchase. Online purchases present a strong use case for the mobile wallet. Sixty-eight percent of all online shopping carts are abandoned before purchase, making cart abandonment a massive problem for retailers, which lose an estimated $4.6 trillion to abandoned carts on an annual basis. Small screens and slow connections on mobile devices in particular make shopping a challenge, and lead to conversion rates as low as 1.19%. Story by Rachel Green for Business Insider

Identity Fraud Rates Reach All-Time High
Last year marked a large shift in the world of data breaches. For the first time, Social Security Numbers were compromised more than credit card numbers. A staggering 16.7 million consumers were affected by identity fraud last year, an 8% increase over year-ago levels and the highest volume since Javelin Strategy & Research began their annual surveys in 2003. This fraud resulted in losses of $16.8 billion. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com

Nearly 25% of Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than Savings
Only 52% of Americans have emergency savings that exceed their outstanding credit card balances. This data comes from a 2017 Bankrate study, which also found that 24% of U.S. adults actually have more credit card debt than money in the bank. Of course, not all Americans are deeply indebted — a good 17% claim they don’t owe a dime on their credit cards. Unfortunately, these same folks also have no savings to show for. An estimated 57% have less than $1,000 in the bank, while 39% have no savings at all. Meanwhile, the average U.S. household owes $7,136 in credit card debt. Story by Maurie Backman for The Motley Fool

Equifax Will Offer Free Credit Freezes for Five More Months
Still haven’t signed up for Equifax’s free credit freeze? You just got a second chance. After disclosing a massive data breach last year, Equifax said it would waive the fee for credit freezes through January 31. But as the deadline approached this week, the company extended it to June 30. Personal information for 145.5 million people was exposed during the breach, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and some driver’s license numbers. In addition, 209,000 credit card numbers were exposed. Story by Katie Lobosco for CNN

Virtual Travel Assistant Mezi Acquired by American Express
American Express announced today that it has acquired Mezi, the AI-based virtual travel assistant, for an undisclosed amount. After the deal closes, Mezi will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Express. Its technology is already powering AskAmex, a personal concierge app for cardholders that launched its pilot program last year. Mezi users send requests for flights, hotels and restaurant reservations through the app’s SMS-like interface. Mezi then makes suggestions and, once it figures out what users want to do, forwards requests to human assistants to finalize bookings. Story by Catherine Shu for Tech Crunch

Zimbabwe: Electronic Money Hits 96% of Transactions
Monetary transactions in the Zimbabwean economy are now dominated by electronic payment systems with more than 96 percent of local transactions now being conducted through plastic, internet and mobile money. While the use of electronic forms of payment came as a result of cash shortages, it puts the country ahead of other countries across the globe that are working towards achieving a cashless society. Story by Kudzanai Sharara for The Herald

Find the Hidden Benefits of Your Credit Card

During a recent trip, my late-evening return flight was canceled due to weather. That meant I was going to need a hotel, but because the cancellation wasn’t due to a mechanical issue, the airline wasn’t going to foot the bill. I was stuck with it. What I didn’t know was that my credit card bank, Chase, would have stepped in to cover that expense. Like many (most?) folks, I’m woefully unaware of the various benefits afforded me as a cardholder. Sure, I knew about the points I was earning. But travel insurance? I had no idea. Enter Sift, a service that catalogs every perk offered by a wide variety of credit cards, with complete descriptions of each one and instructions for how to access it. Story by Rick Broida for CNet

The Worst Credit Card Habits You Need to Break Now
Credit cards can be great financial tools if you use them responsibly. You can earn credit card rewards on your everyday spending and build your credit with a positive payment history. But if you use credit unwisely, you can dig yourself into a hole of debt and damage your credit score along the way. Here are the top seven credit card mistakes you should avoid at all costs. Story by Ben Luthi for MarketWatch



The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 9, 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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