LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 14, 2014

March 14, 2014, Written By Lynn Oldshue
LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 14, 2014

How Target Blew It
Poring over computer logs, Target found FireEye’s alerts from November 30 and more from December 2, when hackers installed yet another version of the malware. Not only should those alarms have been impossible to miss, they went off early enough that the hackers hadn’t begun transmitting the stolen card data out of Target’s network. Had the company’s security team responded when it was supposed to, the theft that has since engulfed Target, touched as many as one in three American consumers, and led to an international manhunt for the hackers never would have happened at all. Story by Michael Riley, Ben Elgin, Dune Lawrence and Carol Matlack for Bloomberg Businessweek.

MasterCard, Visa Plan Group Focused on Security
Visa and MasterCard want banks and retailers to work together on securing customer data and stop blaming each other after a massive data breach during the holiday season. The two payment networks announced they are bringing together large and small banks, credit unions, retailers, makers of card processing equipment and industry trade groups in a group that aims to strengthen the U.S. payment system for credit and debit cards. Story by Josh Freed for Associated Press.

After Debit Card Fraud, A Chicago Bank Feels its Customers’ Frustrations
People should no longer use debit or credit cards in Chicago taxicabs. Bank of America should shut off the card-swiping terminals in the back of those cabs. And MasterCard ought to learn to share more information with its customers. These may sound like the words of Ralph Nader or a fire-breathing regulator, but they’re not. In a sort of heresy, it was a bank that threw down this gauntlet late last month. The institution is First American Bank, and it has close to 50 branches in the Chicago area. On Feb. 28, it issued a news release and posted a notice on its website after 18 days of frustration over debit card fraud that it had traced to local taxis. Story by Ron Lieber for the New York Times.

Is This Steel Credit Card Worth $495?
In order to attract more big spenders, credit card companies are scrapping the plastic for fancy cards made of titanium, aluminum and steel. But with all the glitz and heft comes a little sticker shock–and not just because the cards conduct electricity. The metal cards carry much higher annual fees to match their material, the higher-net-worth individuals who carry them, and the perks they offer. A titanium, palladium or stainless steel card could cost up to $300 each to manufacture, compared with just 15 to 50 cents for a plastic card. Despite their cost, there’s been a surge in popularity over the past decade. The number of metal credit cards in circulation has grown to 10 million from just 15,000 cards back in 2005, according to CPI Card Group. Story by Quentin Fottrell for Marketwatch.

Do You Know about Credit Card Repo Clauses?
According to a recent study of credit card terms in the United States, many card agreements allow banks to repossess items you have purchased to make up for money you owe on your account. More than 200 publicly-filed credit card agreements have “repo clauses” in them, which turn the items you purchase into security for your debt. While few banks actually put these clauses into effect, they legally have the opportunity to do so because of your signed agreement. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Retail Group Punts on MasterCard, Visa Smart Chip Security Plan
The largest U.S. retail trade group says new card technology proposed by a consortium of credit card issuers doesn’t go far enough to prevent credit card fraud. Visa and MasterCard advocated the use of chip technology in credit and debit cards, but did not recommend the use of personal identification numbers as additional layer of security protection for payments. The two payments processors said they are forming a new group to speed up the adoption of technology aimed at improving credit and debit card security in the wake of several high-profile data breaches. Visa and MasterCard disagree on the use of PIN technology in conjunction with chips. But National Retail Federation, which represents 12,000 retailers in the U.S., says implementing chip technology but not PIN is like installing an alarm on the front door of a home while leaving the back door open. Story by Clint Boulton for The Wall Street Journal.

Saving Money on Prepaid Card Fees
Prepaid debit cards have become incredibly popular, but most people don’t realize how many fees can be associated with these cards. Whether you use prepaid cards as an alternative to a checking account or as a budgeting tool, you can save money by getting the right cards to use. Here, we explain how to save money on prepaid card fees so you can get the most out of your accounts. Story by Lynn Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Will Google Bring Good Fortune to Credit Karma?
Google is betting that good things will happen to Credit Karma, an online service that provides consumers with free copies of the credit scores that define their financial reputations. Credit Karma is getting Google’s endorsement and expertise as part of an $85 million investment announced Wednesday. Credit Karma plans to use the incoming money to more than double its current workforce of 110 employees and introduce more products “that are going to be disruptive,” CEO Ken Lin said. Without providing specifics, Lin said Credit Karma’s next product will be unveiled in about two months and will offer free access to a service that consumers traditionally have had to pay to get. Story by the Associated Press.

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 14.48 percent, slightly lower than last week’s 14.49 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.40 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.31 percent.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 14, 2014. 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