LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018, Written By Bill Hardekopf

Tax Cuts in Hand, Americans Reduce Credit Card Debt
Consumer credit grew less than expected in March, as Americans reduced the amount of credit card debt they carry. The Federal Reserve said consumer credit in March grew at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 3.6 percent, or $11.6 billion. Credit card debt declined three percent, the second monthly decline in a row. This could be an unexpected result of the tax cuts. With many Americans facing lowering tax bills and lower levels of withholding, paychecks have grown even as wage gains have remained muted. As a result, many households may have found themselves needing less credit to pay their bills. Story by John Carney for Breitbart

Goldman Sachs, Apple Team Up on New Credit Card
Apple and Goldman Sachs are preparing to launch a new joint credit card, a move that would deepen the technology giant’s push into its customers’ wallets and mark the Wall Street firm’s first foray into plastic. The planned card would carry the Apple Pay brand and could launch early next year, people familiar with the matter said. Apple will replace its longstanding rewards-card partnership with Barclays. The Apple-Goldman card could help the companies combat weaknesses in their core businesses. Story by Tripp Mickle and Liz Hoffman for The Wall Street Journal

Americans Are Using Their Credit Cards More Than Ever
Credit card use is on the rise. The number of credit card accounts increased by 2.6% compared to this time last year, according to TransUnion’s Q1 2018 Industry Insights Report. Currently, there are 416.5 million credit cards and 174.9 million consumers with access to a credit card. Also on the rise is the average credit card debt per borrower, which increased by 2.63% since last year, jumping from $5,332 to $5,472. The serious credit card delinquency rates per borrower was 1.78% as of the first quarter in 2018, an increase from 1.69% a year ago. This is the first time America has seen a delinquency rate this high in quarter one since the 1.77% delinquency rate in 2012, although it remains below the 10-year first quarter average of 1.91%. Story by Hillary Hoffower for Business Insider

Instagram Quietly Launches Payments for Commerce
Instagram  just stealthily added a native payments feature to its app for some users. It lets you register a debit or credit card as part of a profile, set up a security pin, then start buying things without ever leaving Instagram. Not having to leave for a separate website and enter payment information any time you want to purchase something could make Instagram a much bigger player in commerce. Story by Josh Constine for Tech Crunch

NYPD Tests New Gadget to Fight Credit Card Skimmers
The NYPD is testing a new gadget that officials hope will turn the tide in the war against credit card skimmers. Cops have been trying out the Skim Reaper around the city since February, and believe that the $50 gizmo could help spell the end of a crime that, according to the Secret Service, rakes in more than a billion dollars each year nationwide. Users insert the Skim Reaper, comparable in size to a long credit card, into a card reader, and a display screen reads “possible skimmer!” whenever one of the nefarious devices is detected. Story by Tina Moore and Aaron Feis for the New York Post

Study Points to Growth of Mobile-Based AI Shopping Assistants
In a recent survey, 43% of respondents reported they make weekly purchases with their smartphones. The majority of mobile shoppers, 63%, expect most people will have a personal shopping advisor based on artificial intelligence within three years. There is an emerging demand for digital shopping assistants that will help with purchase decisions, from giving advice on style to narrowing product options and getting the best price, even negotiating with salespeople. They are also expected to handle more mundane tasks like returns, refunds, receiving deliveries when not home and household restocking chores. Among users of augmented reality and virtual reality, 69% think these technologies will give smartphones all the benefits of physical stores within three years. Story by Dan Alaimo for Retail Dive

Equifax Now Says Some Passport Info was Stolen in Breach
Equifax acknowledged a relatively small number of passport images and information were stolen as part of last year’s security breach, despite previously denying such a thing occurred. The credit monitoring company said 3,200 passport images were stolen last year. That’s compared to the 148 million individuals that were impacted by the overall breach. The passport images stolen are not new individuals impacted by the breach, Equifax said, but instead are part of the original figure disclosed to the public last year. Story by Ken Sweet for the Associated Press

In 2040, Cash and Credit Cards Will Be Relics of the Past
In 2040, the value of your data no longer flows to search providers or social networks. Instead, it all goes to you, allowing you to sell it to offset small costs throughout the day. The monetization of every aspect of our daily lives also creates a role for charity and altruism: You have the option to donate part of your daily micropayment income stream to your favorite charity in return for tax credits. The furor over the use of personal data by social networks could lead to people being rewarded for use of their information. Our expectations as consumers are soaring as our lifestyles change and the pace of innovation accelerates. Increasingly, we want to live in a cashless mobile-only society-and technology will therefore find a way to make it happen. Story by Anne Boden for Quartz

The American Express Company’s Winning Formula
When American Express lost Costco as a corporate partner in early 2016, shares of the iconic credit card company tanked as investors wondered how the company was going to fill the huge void left by the significant percentage of members who held its Costco-branded card. Now, just two years removed from the fiasco, the company’s stock price has largely recovered and is well on its way to seeing new all-time highs. Even a cursory glance at the company’s first-quarter results shows that its performance is what’s powering this upward movement. How has American Express been able to drive such strong growth after losing its biggest source of card holders just two years ago? It has done so by focusing on a new formula for success: using low-cost methods to find new customers and drive up spending from existing customers. Story by Matthew Cochrane for The Motley Fool

Mastercard, Microsoft Partner on Smart City Pilot
Mastercard and Microsoft are teaming up to help cities better understand and address urban planning challenges like traffic congestion and economic development. The two companies are currently working on a two-city pilot that will model the impact of planned and unplanned urban events and inform policy decisions with data. The idea is to give mayors, policy makers and urban planners more insight into the root causes of urban challenges—like major infrastructure investments, adverse weather and traffic incidents—and better strategies on how to solve them. Using Mastercard’s payment network and Microsoft’s data analytics and cloud technologies, the companies will also look for smart city solutions in the areas of transportation—including the potential for a cloud-based automated transit fare collection system—as well as tourism, water and power. Story by Natalie Gagliordi for ZDNet

How the Smartphone Can Help Reinvigorate Financially Underserved Consumers
Most Americans think of their smartphones as a useful tool, but for people who are underbanked or unbanked, a mobile device can be an essential first step to a better financial situation. Estimates on the number unbanked consumers vary from 7 percent to 15 percent of the population. They’re unbanked either by choice—they don’t trust banks or are avoiding garnishment; by necessity—banks won’t accept them because of their poor financial history; or by fear—they want to avoid overdraft fees. The percent of the underbanked is higher. Some 20 percent of consumer have bank accounts, but still choose to use alternatives such as payday loans and check cashing services to get access to their funds sooner than is possible through a traditional bank. Yet many of these financially underserved consumers have a financial tool in their pockets they could use to access the same services as their wealthier peers, which in turn would improve their long-term financial outlook. Story by Dan Puterbaugh for Mobile Payments Today



The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 11, 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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