LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue
LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–June 26, 2017

Venmo is Apparently Working On A Physical Debit Card
Venmo is looking for new ways to stay relevant and create revenue, and a physical debit card may be the way to go. In this day and age, the general shift is away from the physical and towards the digital, but it seems that the tables may be turning once again. According to a new report, Venmo is testing a physical debit card that would make it easier for people who store money in their Venmo accounts to turn around and use these funds to make purchases at brick and mortar stores. Story by Lulu Chang for Digital Trends.

More Than 171 Million People Now Have a Credit Card, and They Are Really Using It
If you notice more people whipping out a credit card, there may be reason—there has not been this many around in a while. More than 171 million consumers now have access to a credit card which is the highest level since 2005, according to the most recent quarterly report by TransUnion. The increase in access to cards contributed to a 7.4% increase in total balances which reached $693 billion in the first quarter of the year. Which begs the question—are we reaching dangerous levels of consumer lending? Story by Chris Metinko for The Street.

Bank of America to Repay Released Arizona Inmates for Debit Card Fees
Bank of America will repay tens of thousands of released Arizona prison inmates for what advocacy groups say were excessive charges to access money on debit cards they received when they got out of prison under a lawsuit settlement announced Tuesday. The settlement of the class-action lawsuit brought by inmates includes an agreement that the bank stop charging the fees, which it did in April. The bank has contracted to provide the debit card services since 2012. About $168,000 will be repaid if all inmates are located. The bank was charging inmates $15 to withdraw cash from a teller and other fees regular customers weren’t charged. The inmates receive the cards loaded with cash they earned at prison jobs or was confiscated when they were arrested when they are released. Story by Bob Christie for the Associated Press.

Instant Bank Transfers Are Coming to PayPal and Venmo
PayPal announced a plan to speed up money transfers between its service, Venmo and users’ bank accounts for those with supported MasterCard and Visa debit cards. This new “instant transfers” service will be available at a rate of $0.25 per transaction, and will deliver funds in a matter of minutes, instead of the day or so it typically takes when using PayPal or Venmo. PayPal has been operating in the peer-to-peer payments business for nearly two decades, but the company has been more recently challenged by a number of newcomers, like Square Cash, for example, whose key advantage has been the ability to “cash out” to your bank account instantly. Now PayPal and Venmo will offer a similar option for debit card holders with supported cards from Visa and MasterCard. The company says the feature will be available to the vast majority of cardholders, save for a handful of very small institutions. The feature arrives at a time when PayPal is shifting its focus from being a competitor to Visa and MasterCard, to being more of a partner. For years, PayPal encouraged users to link their bank accounts to its service, as a means of routing around the large payment networks. But last year, things changed. Story by Sarah Perez for Tech Crunch.

Anthem Agrees To Pay Record $115M To Settle Data Breach Suit
Anthem, the largest health insurance company in the US, has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over a 2015 data breach for a record $115 million. The settlement still has to be approved by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who is scheduled to hear the case on August 17 in San Jose, California.  And Anthem isn’t admitting any wrongdoing or that “any individuals were harmed as a result of the cyberattack.” The settlement, subject to a judge’s approval, would be the largest to date for a data breach case, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs. Story by Michelle Meyers for CNet.

Beware Deferred Interest Credit Cards—They’re Not 0% Interest
“No interest if paid in full within 12 months!” Or, “0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months.” They sound like great deals. But the offers aren’t the same, and one can cost you considerably more over time. Both cards, usually offered by retailers, set aside a time when you pay no interest on the money you borrowed to buy a sofa, say. But one card charges no interest for that time, while the other just defers interest you would have paid. The deferred interest card could cost you quite a bit more if you’re not paying attention. If you still have a promotional balance when the time is up, you’ll be charged back interest. More people are buying things with deferred-interest promotions, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. More than a third end up paying 150% of the balance, according to a CFPB study. Many consumers mistakenly believe these to be 0% interest. Story by Anna Bahney for CNN.

Bank of England Poised To Act As Credit Card Market Overheats
The Bank of England is poised to order banks to rein in lending to prevent the UK credit card market from dangerously overheating. Mark Carney, the Bank’s Governor, is reluctant to hike interest rates because it would risk slowing the entire economy but officials are worried about a boom in household debt as Britons splurge on credit cards and car loans. Consumer credit is rising at a rate of around 10% per year, a pace not seen since before the financial crisis. Story by Tim Wallace and Szu Ping Chan for The Telegraph.

What to Know About Medical Credit Cards Before Signing Up
A medical credit card can help you pay off an unexpected health expense if you know how to use one. If not, you could end up owing way more than your original bill. Offered at hundreds of thousands of doctors and veterinary offices across the country, medical credit cards are designed to spread out medical and veterinary bills that you can’t afford to pay off all at once. If the bill is over $200, you can pay it back interest-free over a set period of time, ranging from six to 24 months. Typically used for services that aren’t often covered by insurance (such as dental, cosmetic, or chiropractic work), medical credit cards can also be used for things like primary care or healthcare specialists if your provider accepts them. Approval rates for these cards are high – you can even be approved at a doctor’s office relatively quickly. CareCredit credit cards (owned by Synchrony Financial) are perhaps the best known, though banks such as Citi and Wells Fargo also offer them. These cards use a type of financing called deferred interest, which may sound great in theory, but experts warn consumers may not fully understand what they’re agreeing to. Story by Alicia Adamczyk for Time.

As Credit Card Rewards, Gift Cards Are No Prize
It’s a maneuver many credit card holders know well: the Hail Mary of rewards—redeeming points for a gift card. You have a couple of thousand points left on your credit card, and you want to close your account. You don’t want to forfeit those rewards. But they’re not enough for an airline ticket, and you don’t meet the minimum redemption requirement for cash back. So, like a kid reluctantly trading arcade tickets for a pink rubber eraser, you get a gift card. Gift cards remain perhaps the most ubiquitous redemption option available among credit card issuers. But for cardholders, they can be a miss, offering limited versatility and so-so redemption values. Even when you’re low on credit card rewards, better options abound. Story by Claire Tsosie for Nerd Wallet.

This Startup Just Fixed the Most Annoying Thing About Credit Cards
Now anyone can apply for an account at Final. However, users won’t be accepted unless they have sufficiently good credit. If you do, Final acts like a typical credit card system—it protects you from fraud. But not in the same way that any old credit card does. Final’s security features far exceed the status quo. The company’s core value proposition is that it can act as a password manager for your credit card. Along with receiving a physical card for IRL payments, users can generate credit card numbers on demand. You’re able to create a new one for each purchase, or assign unique credit card numbers to every retailer. Users can specify how much money is allowed to flow through a given credit card. Final’s system means that after a data breach you can simply switch off the credit card number associated with the hacked retailer. You needn’t worry about having to change the rest of your accounts. Story by Sonya Mann for Inc.

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 15.46 percent, slightly higher than last week’s average of 15.36 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.90 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.70 percent.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of June 26, 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