LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–January 18, 2019

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–January 18, 2019

January 18, 2019         Written By Bill Hardekopf

Mastercard Won’t Let Companies Automatically Bill You After Free Trials
We’ve all made the mistake of starting a free trial and forgetting to cancel it before the billing period kicks in. Now, Mastercard will protect against this. The company announced a new policy that will require merchants to get authorization from you before hitting you with recurring charges for subscriptions. It will also require companies to provide you with monthly updates with pricing and clear instructions on how to cancel if you need it. Story by AJ Dellinger for Engadget

Citigroup Reveals Female Employees Earn 29% Less Than Men Do
Citigroup offered an uncharacteristically blunt assessment of the pay gap between men and women in its global workforce Wednesday, revealing that female employees earn 29 percent less than men do. The bank also reported that, among its U.S. employees, people of color earn 7 percent less than their white colleagues. Story by Rebecca Greenfield for Bloomberg

How Southwest Airlines’s Credit Cards Just Got Better
One of the best perks that Southwest Airlines offers its loyalty members and credit card holders is the Companion Pass—essentially a “buy one, get one flight for just $5.60 in taxes and fees” pass for your partner, kid, or travel BFF that lasts for an entire year. But it usually takes dedication to Southwest get it: You have to fly 100 qualifying one-way trips or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year for access to a Companion Pass. That’s all changing in 2019. Travelers who sign up for the airline’s Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier, and Priority credit cards before February 11 can get a Companion Pass that’s good for the entire year. Story by Meredith Carey for Conde Nast Traveler

New 24-Month Churning Restrictions from Bank of America
Bank of America recently announced a 24-month churning policy for a few of its most popular cards. Restrictions vary based on each card, but generally, cardholders will now be restricted to one card approval for a given card every 24 months. For example, if you close your Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card, you’ll have to wait 24 months before applying for that card once more. Bank of America’s new restrictions have evolved from their previous rules, which are still in effect, that limit cardholders to two Bank of America applications every two months, three every 12 months and four every 24 months. Story by Claire Dickey for Bankrate

Signet Jewelers Fined $11 Million for Tricking Consumers
Signet Jewelers will pay $11 million in civil fines to settle a federal and New York state investigation that found the national jewelry retailer tricked consumers into signing up for store credit cards, credit insurance and related promotions and payment-protection products. As part of the settlement, Signet said it does not admit or deny the allegations and findings of fact in the case involving its Sterling Jewelers Inc. subsidiary that was investigated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the New York attorney general’s office. The company disclosed in a regulatory filing that it will pay $10 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and $1 million to New York state. Story by Jim MacKinnon for the Akron Beacon Journal

Square Unveils New Debit Card for Small Business Customers
Square announced a new debit card for small-business owners, a move that enables the company to further participate in the economics of payment transactions. With the Square Card, which is free to obtain and use, business owners will be able to spend their Square balances immediately in stores and online. Previously, those who used Square for payment processing had to wait several days for their funds to transfer to their banks accounts, or else they could pay a small fee for instant access to their money. Square earns transaction fees at the time sellers make their purchases with the card. Story by Emily Bary for MarketWatch

Even Prisons Accept Mobile Payments in China’s Cashless Society
You’re an inmate at a Beijing prison. You run out of toothpaste, so you decide to buy a new tube at the commissary. But wait, you don’t have enough cash. Fear not. There might be money in your electronic wallet. Digital payment is ubiquitous in China, especially now that the technology is (literally) going behind bars, forming part of the Beijing government’s plan to build what it calls a “smart prison.” Using Alibaba’s payment app Alipay, family members can now pass money to a prisoner. Story by Karen Chiu for Tech In Asia

Consumers Prefer Paper Bills over E-Statements
We live in a digital world, but many consumers are sticking to tried and true financial practices. According to a new survey from Consumer Action, Americans prefer to receive bills and invoices by mail, rather than electronically. When asked how they would like to receive important communications from their service providers, 38% of consumers said by mail. Just 26% preferred digital communication (mostly email), while 36% said it would depend on the situation. The survey went on to address specific types of bills consumers might receive, and mailed communication won for every category. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com

Marriott Unveils Name for its New Unified Loyalty Program: Marriott Bonvoy
Marriott International has a name for its new loyalty program since merging with Starwood Hotels and Resorts: Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy will replace three previous loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. The three programs merged last August but this is the official naming of the unified product. The program will launch on Feb. 13 with a new logo and branding online and on the ground at properties. Story by Nancy Trejos for USA Today

Mobile Transactions Continue to Spike in Global Ecommerce
Mobile transactions, particularly with smartphones, continue to grow globally when retailers promote their apps, according to a study by Criteo. Mobile transactions account for 40% in North America and 52% in Asia Pacific of all global transactions. Globally, retailers who actively promote their shopping apps have a high average of 63% of transactions conducted on mobile devices. Asia Pacific has the highest share of app transactions among retailers who promote their shopping apps, at 46%, followed by Europe (28%) and the Americas (25%). Overall, in-app’s share of transactions is increasing. Story by Daniela Forte for Multi Channel Merchant

Finance and Fido: Who’s Taking the Lead in Pet Payments?
The opportunity for banks and financial services firms, as well as venture capitalists, to serve the pet industry is massive and not being overlooked. Companies such as Synchrony Financial and Wells Fargo have repositioned their human health care credit card programs specifically to serve pet owners to finance their veterinarian bills. Food delivery companies and subscription meal services business have been created to cater to pet owners while venture capital firms have been funding millions to serve this burgeoning industry.  The two most likely drivers in growing U.S. pet-oriented expenditures are a combination of increasing pet ownership, which has reached 68 percent, up from 56 percent 30 years ago; and new products which have transitioned from luxury or niche to becoming mainstream or “must have” items. Story by Michael Moeser for Payments Source

Setting Expectations for Banking and Mobile Payments in 2019
The banking industry has been rocked by digital disruption. With customer expectations being set by experiences beyond financial services, banks have increasingly accelerated their digitalization in order to act on deep data-driven insights and deliver high-touch customer experiences. As we move into 2019, here are the top trends we can expect in the banking space. Story by Laura Crozier for Mobile Payments Today


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
Featured Low Interest Card
Top Features : 1.25X miles on every purchase; no annual fee; bonus of 20,000 miles once $1,000 is spent in first 3 months
Featured Cash Back Card
Top Features : No Annual Fee, Bonus Offer, Cash Back
Featured No Annual Fee Card
Top Features : Earn cash back twice. 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay; 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Featured Bad Credit Card
Top Features : No Annual Fee; Cash Back match at the end of your first year; Social Security Alerts
Featured Fair Credit Card
Top Features : No annual fee; access to higher credit line after making first 5 monthly payments on time
Featured Limited/No Credit
Top Features : No annual fee; reports to major credit bureaus; access to higher credit line after making first 5 monthly payments on time