LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–July 28, 2017

July 28, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Fed Holds Rates Steady, Giving Borrowers Some Breathing Room
The Federal Reserve has left interest rates alone, giving borrowers a moment to breathe. But don’t get too comfortable. After increasing rates in June by a quarter of a percentage point, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen and the other rate-setters on Wednesday chose to keep their benchmark federal funds rate parked in its current range, between 1 percent and 1.25 percent. However, the Fed previously indicated that another rate hike is possible in 2017, which would be the third this year. Experts have said it could happen in December. Story by Amanda Dixon for Bankrate

PayPal Reports a Third of Transactions Now Mobile
Mobile now accounts for 34 per cent of all transactions made on PayPal, the company revealed in its Q2 results. That is up 50 per cent year on year. The value of mobile transactions processed by the e-commerce pioneer reached $36 billion during the three months to the end of June. While the majority of its mobile payments were through the PayPal brand, the company’s social media payments platform, Venmo, continued its growth with transaction values rising 103 per cent year on year to reach $8.0 billion at the end of Q2. Story by Chris Donkin for Mobile World Live

P2P Payment Transactions to Exceed $120 Billion This Year
The use of mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps such as Venmo in the US will continue to grow by double digits through 2021, according to eMarketer’s latest mobile banking and payments forecast. The transaction value of US mobile P2P payments will grow 55.0% this year to $120.38 billion. This figure is on pace to double by 2021. In 2017, 63.5 million US adults will use a P2P payment app at least once a month, equating to nearly one-third (32.6%) of smartphone users. Use of P2P payment apps is expected to grow considerably with the rollout of Zelle-a network of more than 30 banks (including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase) as well as credit unions that will allow banking customers to transfer money to others within the network. It will be rolled out over the next 12 months. Story in eMarketer

67% of Consumers Are Concerned about Payment Card Security
Two-thirds of consumers are concerned about the security of their debit and credit cards, according to a new survey. The percentage of people concerned grew with age: 59% of 18-24 year olds, 68% of 35-44 year olds, and 73% of 55+ year olds. 38% of total consumers said they believed their information had been put at risk because of data breaches, even if they were not directly involved with the breach. Participants in the United States felt more strongly, with 46% saying their data was at risk; Australia and U.K. were at 33% and 34%, respectively. Surprisingly, consumers believe it is the responsibility of the retailer, not the bank, to protect payment card data. 66% of U.S. shoppers and 62% of global shoppers held retailers accountable for protecting card information. 82% of respondents said banks and retailers should be doing more to safeguard their card numbers and account details. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com

House Votes to Kill New Bank Arbitration Rule in Blow to Federal Consumer Agency
A new federal regulation that would make it easier for Americans to bring class-action lawsuits against banks and other financial institutions might be scrapped before it ever takes effect. Republican lawmakers had vowed to kill the rule, released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just two weeks ago, and took the first step toward doing so Tuesday with a vote in the House of Representatives. Only one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, voted against killing the rule, and no Democrats voted in favor – a sign of the deep partisan divide over financial regulation in general and the powers of the CFPB in particular. Story by James Rufus Koren for The Los Angeles Times

Bank of America is Clearly at the Forefront of Mobile Banking
Mobile banking isn’t the future of banking; it’s the present. And few banks have cracked the nut on mobile banking as well as Bank of America has. The bank had a total of 34 million active digital banking users at the end of the quarter. More than half of them, or 22.9 million, used its mobile banking app. Only JPMorgan Chase exceeds that, with 28.4 million active mobile customers. Mobile banking is about more than just checking your account balance. More than one in five deposit transactions at Bank of America are made on its app. Remote deposit capture isn’t only great for customers, who can now deposit checks from the comfort of their own homes. According to Bank of America, it costs one-tenth of what it cost to do it over the counter. Digital sales now represent 22% of account and loan sales. There were a total of 1 billion customer interactions on the app in the second quarter. If you divide that out, it means that the average customer at Bank of America logs into his or her account 15 times a month, or approximately every other day. Story by John Maxfield for The Motley Fool

Discover Launches Social Security Number Alert Feature
There’s a corner of the internet, inaccessible by traditional search engines, where stolen personal information can be sold anonymously. A new feature announced this week from Discover aims to shed a little more light into that corner. Discover says the new service alerts cardholders when their Social Security number appears on certain websites on the so-called “dark web.” Its SSN alerts are exclusive to Discover cardholders. If you have a Discover card, you can register on Discover’s alert page. Enrolling is free and does not hurt your credit. You’ll receive these alerts by email, but can also opt to get them by text messages. Discover keeps tabs on thousands of “risky websites” and alerts you if your Social Security number appears on any of them. Separately, Discover can also alert you when new accounts appear on your Experian credit report, which can help you identify fraud early on. Story by Claire Tsosie for Nerd Wallet

American Express Brings Credit Card Buying to Bitcoin App Abra
A select group of Abra users and new customers will see the option to buy bitcoin with their American Express card. The months-long integration process between the two companies involved Abra exposing the depths of its business processes to its partner and investor, and has resulted in an even closer relationship between the firms. Still, Abra founder and CEO Bill Barhydt believes the end result of that effort could be a rapid acceleration of bitcoin adoption globally. This means users whose American Express purchase option is enabled today can now purchase up to $200 worth of bitcoin per day, and up to $1,000 of bitcoin per month for a 4 percent fee. Story by Michael del Castillo for Coin Desk

Here’s What Drove Visa’s Spectacular Quarter
Visa posted spectacular growth virtually across the board in Q2 2017. Visa’s profits surged to $2.1 billion, which was stronger-than-expected growth because of expenses in Q2 2016 associated with the Visa Europe acquisition. But other, more meaningful segments are also growing quickly—volume grew by 38% and transactions by 44%, or 13% adjusted for Europe.  The key areas forming the backbone of that growth: (1) US gains: Visa sees over half of its total volume come from the US, making it a critical region, and one that’s growing fast—the US saw 12% annual volume growth, driven by its credit segment. (2) Indian demonetization: In India, Visa saw 80% volume growth and triple-digit transaction growth in Q2, making it the leading driver of the firm’s international growth. (3) Cross-border commerce: Visa’s cross-border segment posted 11% annual growth, adjusted for Europe – a figure that Visa thinks it can maintain in spite of external factors and currency fluctuations. Story by Jaime Toplin for Business Insider

Your Credit Card’s Secret Perks
Chances are, you picked your credit card based on the rewards, yet the most valuable perks could be ones you’re not even aware of. Over the past few years, card issuers have upped the ante with better rewards and sign-up bonuses to attract customers. However, there are a few benefits that have been in the fine print all along, including price guarantees, purchase security, extended warranties and return protection—all of which are common for most credit cards. In fact, four in five credit cards boast at least one of these hidden benefits that could save you money, according to a report. And some cards, including Discover it, Chase Freedom and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, offer all of them. Story by Jessica Dickler for CNBC

Beware the Debit Card Crooks: With New Technology, Hacking is Easier Than Ever
Over the last several years, the percentage of debit cards that have been compromised has increased dramatically, according to FICO. There was a 26 percent jump from 2015 to 2016 in the number of locations or businesses where debit cards were compromised. And those breaches meant that hundreds of thousands of consumers needed new cards. It has become relatively easy for criminals to steal debit card data. Crooks place cameras and/or skimming devices over the keypads at ATMs or at gas pumps to capture card numbers and PINS and then load the information onto a plastic card they can use to tap into your bank account. Contributing to the rise in debit card compromises is the improvement of skimming technology. Story by Michelle Singletary for The Washington Post

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 15.43 percent, slightly lower than last week’s average of 15.45 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.97 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.62 percent.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of July 28, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for LowCards.com for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue