LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 23, 2018

March 23, 2018, Written By Bill Hardekopf

How Federal Reserve Rate Hike Will Affect Mortgages, Auto Loans, Credit Cards
Have a home equity line of credit, adjustable-rate mortgage, or credit card? All are revolving loans with variable rates that are directly affected by the Fed’s action. These loans will become more expensive within weeks since their rates are generally tied to the prime rate, which in turn is affected by the Fed’s benchmark rate. Average credit card rates are 16.84%. For a $10,000 credit card balance, a quarter-point hike is likely to add $25 a month in interest. And so four rate increases this year could mean an additional $100 in monthly interest. Story by Paul Davidson for USA Today

Will Wearable Cards Gain Ground in Korea?
All eyes are on whether “wearable credit cards,” which became a hit during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in South Korea, will be able to gain ground in the Korean market even after the closing ceremony of the Olympics. In the United Kingdom and Australia, the wearable card market is already being established. According to credit industry sources on March 20, Lotte Card Co. predicted earlier that 100,000 wearable payment devices for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics would be sold. However, more than 150,000 wearable payment devices have been sold. Visa teamed up with Lotte Card to produce these new pre-paid payment wearables. To use the devices, the wearer can tap or bring the wearable near any NFC-enabled terminal or reader and the secured microchip and antenna embedded within the device will allow a contactless payment to be completed. Story by Cho Jin-young for Business Korea

The Senate Will Vote to Make Credit Freezes Free for Everyone
After the massive data breach at Equifax, consumer advocates called on Congress to make credit freezes free. Now, six months later, the Senate is set to pass legislation that would do just that. The provision is tucked into a broader bill that would roll back regulations on banks created by Dodd-Frank. After the major hack exposed the personal information of millions of consumers, experts recommended credit freezes as a way to prevent identity theft. While a credit freeze won’t prevent your personal information from being stolen in another data breach, it can protect you from thieves who try to open a line of credit in your name by blocking access to your credit reports. Story by Katie Lobosco for CNN Money

Consumers Want New Ways to Pay and Better Security But Aren’t Keen on Cryptocurrencies
Shoppers want new ways to pay, including prepaid cards, spread payments and try-before-you-buy but are less keen on using cryptocurrencies, despite the hype. According to a new survey, consumers are increasingly keen on paying when they decide to keep goods that have been delivered or sending them back. Direct debit, debit cards and credit cards remain the most popular method of purchasing goods online but demand is falling, in favour of alternative payments, including prepaid cards, bank transfers and mobile payments. Meanwhile, 50% of consumers have abandoned a transaction after being required to enter too many details into an online checkout. Story by Paul Skeldon for Tamebay

Will There Be a Need for Credit Cards in Five Years?
An evolution is under way in the global payment system. Advances in mobile phones and internet technology are giving rise to apps and other digital platforms that allow people to pay for goods and services with their smartphones instead of with cash or traditional credit and debit cards. How quickly U.S. consumers adopt these technologies, and whether they ditch the plastic as a result, remains to be seen. Story in The Wall Street Journal

Wells Fargo Urged to Pause Growth of College Partnerships
Wells Fargo & Co. is facing new scrutiny over its relationships with U.S. colleges, with a senior Democratic senator urging the bank to pause any expansion of its campus partnerships. Sen. Dick Durbin sent a letter asking Wells Fargo to halt any plans it may have to add to its college roster until it has fully addressed a Federal Reserve order last month that curtails the bank’s growth. Story by Melissa Korn and Christina Rexrode for The Wall Street Journal

Nearly 900K Credit Cards Exposed in Orbitz Data Breach
Approximately 880,000 credit card numbers used on Orbitz.com may have been exposed by a data breach, parent company Expedia said. The companies did not say definitively if the credit card numbers were “actually taken from the platform.” Orbitz said the hacker may have been able to get access to credit card numbers used on Orbitz.com between Jan. 1 and June 22, 2016, as well as between and Oct. 1 and Dec. 22 of last year. In addition to credit card numbers, customers’ full names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and genders may have been part of the data breach. Story by Ray Downs for UPI

Citigroup Becomes First Major Bank to Restrict Some Gun Sales
Citigroup plans to prohibit retailers that are customers of the bank from offering bump stocks or selling guns to people who haven’t passed a background check or are younger than 21. The bank is imposing the restrictions on companies that use it to issue store credit-cards or for lending and other services, according to a memo Thursday. The lender also barred the sale of high-capacity magazines. Citigroup is the first major banking institution to set restrictions on the firearms industry. Story by Jennifer Surane and Polly Mosendz for Bloomberg

This Mobile Payment App Takes Aim at America’s Highest-Spending Tourists
Chinese tourists will soon have an easier way of shopping in the U.S. Alipay announced this week it will be accepted by 35,000 additional merchants in the U.S. Those new merchants are in addition to the 4 million U.S. merchant locations that Alipay and First Data announced in May 2017. The expansion of Alipay, which already has over 600 million users, is possible through a partnership with First Data which facilitates the payments through its point-of-sale platforms. The reason for the integration? “Alipay aims to simplify every aspect of Chinese tourists’ travel in North America, enabling them to use Alipay for everything from ride-hailing and purchasing luxury goods, to making reservations at hotels and restaurants,” the company said in a statement. Story by Maria LaMagna for MarketWatch

3 Ways to Use Credit Card Rewards to Your Advantage
Nearly 70 percent of entrepreneurs fund their companies with external capital. Credit card cash advances are among the most common sources of this money, right up there with personal loans. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that 46 percent of small business owners use their personal cards for company spending. But entrepreneurs don’t always know how to best utilize these forms of spending and avoid debt, let alone understand how to even make money via their credit cards. Entrepreneurs using credit card rewards programs often fail to align their points with their spending and struggle to choose cards that maximize their potential rewards. Putting $100,000 on a card that offers a point per dollar reward, for example, will rack up 100,000 points. But that’s 200,000 fewer than a card that offers three points, which equates to thousands of dollars in missed opportunities. Story by Alex Miller for Entrepreneur

Google Pay Adds Support for Prepaid Transit Cards
Google has announced that users of its recently launched Google Pay mobile wallet service can now store prepaid transit tickets in the app. The feature is initially compatible with the Las Vegas Monorail network but Google plans to expand it over time. Google Pay is a complete mobile payments solution that lets you use your phone as your wallet when you leave the house. At launch, the app only supported debit and credit cards, but Google’s now expanding the service to include transport tickets and passes. The implementation in use by the Las Vegas Monorail uses NXP’s MIFARE contactless technology. Monorail users can purchase tickets online to avoid queues at the station. Customers will now have the option of saving their ticket to Google Pay after completing the purchase. Once stored, the app can be used to board the monorail network. Story by James Walker for Digital Journal 



The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 23, 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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