LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 31, 2017

March 31, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Getting Credit Card Fees Lowered Is a Lot Easier Than You’d Think
Your credit card company will probably be nicer to you if you just ask. Around 84% of customers who asked for an adjustment to an annual fee or late fees, a lowered interest rate, or a higher credit limit were successful, according to a new survey. But although the success rate for such requests is quite high, only about half of all those surveyed actually asked for help, meaning there are plenty of cardholders out there who are losing out on saving some cash. Often credit card companies instruct their service representatives to allow for a certain number of waivers a year, but only if a customer requests one. One in four solicited for a late fee to be quashed, with 87% of those who asked being successful. Customers were also more diligent in getting their credit limit raised. Some 28% of cardholders made such as request, with 89% of them receiving one. Customers had good fortune getting their interest rates altered as well. Of the 19% who sought a reduction, 69% were successful. Story by Jeff Bukhari for Fortune

Justices Side With Free-Speech Challenge to Credit Card Fees
The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the First Amendment applies to a New York law concerning credit card fees. The decision was a victory for five businesses that had sought to tell their customers that they imposed a surcharge for using credit cards. But the Supreme Court decided only that the law regulated their speech rather than their conduct, and it left it to an appeals court to determine whether the law violated the First Amendment. The New York law, similar to ones in nine other states, bars merchants from imposing surcharges when their customers use credit cards. Credit card companies charge fees to merchants in the range of 2 to 3 percent, Chief Justice Roberts wrote. Story by Adam Liptak for The New York Times

IRS Phone Scammers are Getting More Sophisticated
Money scams and identity theft run rampant all year around, with crooks using the threat of the IRS as a way to get money or information from victims. These attacks take on more prominence during tax season when paying the IRS is top of mind. To address this growing problem, the IRS has issued warnings to tax professionals and taxpayers of scams requesting last-minute deposit changes for refunds or account updates. While many of these scams take place online with phishing emails, crooks posing as IRS employees have been placing threatening calls to victims on the phone demanding immediate payment for tax debts. Unfortunately for the retired population, they tend to be the most vulnerable to this type of phone fraud for the simple reason that they’re more likely to be at home to receive these calls on their landlines, warns the IRS. Story by Jeanie Ahn for Yahoo Finance

Visa’s New Virtual Credit Cards Show It’s Serious About B2B Payments
Paying bills. It’s a task that no one really loves to do. While digitization of the process has begun to make it easier for consumers, Visa is focusing on ways to share that advantage with small businesses. That’s why the company announced a partnership with payments technology firm Viewpost this week to expand the availability of virtual credit cards, already used by large corporations, to tinier companies via a network that allows electronic invoicing, payments, and real-time cash management. Story by Valerie Young for The Street

U.S. Top Court Rejects Bid to Revive $7.25 Billion Credit Card Settlement
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a bid by retailers to revive a $7.25 billion antitrust settlement they reached with Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc over claims the card networks improperly fixed credit and debit card fees. The high court left in place a 2016 lower court decision that threw out the settlement on the basis that it was unfair to retailers that stood to receive no payments and derive no other benefits. The settlement had been intended to resolve claims that merchants were overcharged on interchange fees, or “swipe fees,” when shoppers used credit or debit cards, and were barred from directing customers toward cheaper means of payment. The deal had been the largest all-cash U.S. antitrust settlement, although its value shrank to about $5.7 billion after roughly 8,000 retailers “opted out.” The New York-based 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the accord was unfair to retailers that stood to receive no payments and, in the court’s view, little or no benefit at all. It also decertified the case as a class action. Story by Lawrence Hurley for Reuters

Compromised Debit Cards Surged 70% in 2016
The FICO Card Alert Service reported that 70% more debit cards had their security compromised at U.S. merchant card readers and ATMs in 2016 than in 2015. FICO data also showed that compromises of ATMs and merchant devices in the U.S. rose 30%, following a six-fold increase in 2015. The average duration of a compromise fell from 14 days in 2015 to 11. FICO said compromises occurred most often at non-bank ATMs, such as those in convenience stores. About 60% of compromises were at non-bank ATMs, with the rest occurring at bank ATMs or point-of-sale devices, such as card payment machines at retailers. These figures cover only card fraud occurring at physical devices, not online card fraud. Story by Dan O’Shea for Retail Dive

CFPB Fines Experian $3 Million for Deceptive Marketing Practices
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Experian $3 million for creating misleading ads about the way their credit scores were used. Experian told consumers the scores they marketed were used to determine credit worthiness, when in reality, those scores were only meant to be a tool to help people track their credit. Experian developed a program called PLUS Score that shows consumers an estimated credit score based on their open accounts and payment histories. The PLUS Score is only an educational” credit score, not a reference point for lenders. The CFPB has ordered Experian to adjust its marketing strategies to accurately reflect the nature of PLUS Score, in addition to paying the $3 million civil penalty. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com

Wells Fargo Launches Card-Free ATM Access
Wells Fargo on Monday began to offer card-free ATM access through a coast-to-coast rollout of changes in how people can access the ubiquitous machines. Instead of a physical card, customers will be able to use their mobile Wells Fargo app to choose card-free ATM access and then obtain a one-time token for that session to conduct transactions at the machine. The bank wants to create more ways to conduct the same transaction over multiple platforms. The new technology is available at all 13,000 Wells Fargo ATM devices. Story by George Avalos for The Mercury News

Capital One May Be Able To Acquire Cabela’s Card Portfolio After All
Capital One is likely to complete the acquisition of outdoor retail giant Cabela’s credit card portfolio without running into any regulatory issues this time around thanks to the involvement of Synovus Financial in the deal. Capital One announced its intention to acquire Cabela’s financial services arm last October, but the plan was called off earlier this year due to opposition from financial regulators. However, fresh talks between Cabela and Synovus have revived the possibility of Capital One finally bagging the $5.5-billion card portfolio, as Synovus will first acquire the financial services arm and then sell the card portfolio to Capital One, while retaining the roughly $1 billion in deposits. As Synovus is a small bank with about $30 billion in assets (in comparison to Capital One which has an asset base exceeding $350 billion) the Cabela-Synovus deal should go through without any major regulatory interference–paving the way for a quick transfer of the card portfolio to Capital One later this year. Story by the Trefis Team for Forbes

Mastercard to Acquire NuData Security
Mastercard announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire NuData Security, a global technology company that helps businesses prevent online and mobile fraud using session and biometric indicators. The Internet of Things is creating a more digitally-driven and digitally-connected world, with an estimated 50 billion smart devices to be in use across the globe by 2020. While such connectivity can create unparalleled convenience for consumers to pay how they want, when they want, it remains critically important to keep all transactions secure. Story by Street Insider

Valid Produces Prepaid Payment Bracelet in Brazil
Valid, a global provider of customized secure solutions, has produced BPPTag payment wristbands, recently launched by Brasil Pré-Pagos (BPP) and Visa. The device works with Near Field Communication RFID technology. The communication technology allows the secure exchange of proximity-encrypted data with a debit machine. The bracelet acts as a prepaid card that can be recharged via debit card or ticket. Transaction history can be tracked through an application, such as recharges, account balance or device lock, in the event of loss or theft. In order to pay for a retail purchase with the bracelet, a shopper need only bring it close to a terminal. Purchases below $50 do not require a password. Story by Edson Perin for RFID Journal

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 15.21 percent, slightly higher than last week’s average of 15.20 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.64 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.72 percent.

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