LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–September 1, 2017

September 1, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Amex Unveils New Payment Feature for Credit Cards
Retail stores use layaway to help customers pay for purchases. Now it looks like credit card companies are getting in on the action. On Wednesday, American Express unveiled its new “Plan It” feature, which will give card members the opportunity to pay off large purchases over a fixed period of time. Using the American Express app or on AmericanExpress.com, card members can select any purchase over $100 and choose a payment plan. A fixed monthly fee will be charged instead of accrued interest on the entire bill calculated by the card’s annual percentage rate. Plan It lets customers pay off large purchases overtime. After clicking the “Plan It” icon, members will be presented with three different payment plans. Repayment terms range from three months to 24 months and the fixed fee is presented upfront. Story by Brittany Jones-Cooper for Yahoo Finance

Why The Same Credit Card May Vary From State to State
It’s no secret that where you live can have a huge impact on how much you pay in rent or taxes. Less widely known is the fact that your home state may also determine the features and conditions of your credit cards, or even whether certain cards are available to you at all. A recent settlement between American Express and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised the profile of these differences. It arises from how Amex customers in certain U.S. territories were the victims of “discriminatory practices.” The CFPB says these included “charging higher interest rates, imposing stricter credit cutoffs, and providing less debt forgiveness” to consumers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories. Nothing, however, prevents Amex and other card issuers from withholding certain cards from the market in certain states and territories. As careful readers of credit card agreements will know, Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories are most often affected, but certain cards may not be offered in some continental states, too. Story by Robert Harrow for Forbes

PayPal Introduces a Cash Back MasterCard
In partnership with Synchrony Financial, PayPal has introduced its new cash back MasterCard, which will give cardholders 2% cash back on purchases. The card, which will only be available to PayPal customers, won’t have an annual fee, a cash back limit, or restrictions on how cash can be spent. And for added convenience, once potential cardholders are approved, they’ll have access to their cards on PayPal immediately, even before the physical card arrives. Giving consumers access to a rewards card will help push PayPal’s strategy of increasing in-store and online payments via its products. Adding a new rewards element to a product that has already proved to be successful for PayPal could be a formula for significant growth. Story by Ayoub Aouad for Business Insider

Millennials Want Credit. They Just Use It Way Differently Than Their Parents
Millennials own fewer credit cards than older generations, but that doesn’t mean they are credit averse. Adults between the ages of 21 and 34 also have a strong appetite for auto loans, opening them at a 21 percent higher rate than the previous generation. While millennials take out personal loans at a 98 percent higher rate than adults their parents’ age did, the study found Gen X consumers owned two more credit cards than millennials when they were the same age. A combination of influences have shaped this trend. Since the implementation of the Card Act of 2009, credit card companies are no longer allowed to solicit new customers on college campuses, which helped contribute to a decline in the number of younger consumers entering the credit card market. At the same time, demand for personal loans has exploded in recent years, aided by the growth of online personal lenders, which came of age as millennials did. Story by Robin Saks Frankel for Bankrate

Mastercard Partners With Fitbit To Bring Contactless Payments To Its New Smartwatch
Consumers who own wearables own more devices than those who don’t, shop online more often, spend more when they shop, are more likely to use a voice-activated personal assistant like Alexa, are more likely to never use cash and are more likely to use digital channels for a wider array of goods. And with the launch of the Ionic, Fitbit’s first smartwatch, Mastercard is making sure it’s ready on the ground floor to meet those wearable consumers and offer them secure access to tokenized payments. The firm announced that it has inked a deal with Fitbit to bring contactless payments to the Ionic, which was also launched Monday. Using the Fitbit Ionic, consumers will be able to add their eligible cards to the near-field communication enabled smartwatch and pay by tapping their device at contactless payment terminals at more than 6.6 million merchants around the globe. Story in PYMNTS

A Cardless, Cashless Society is in Our Future, Visa Digital Chief Predicts
Visa has been giving a lot of thought to what it calls a “cashless future.” But in truth, it sounds a lot like a cardless future. For example, Visa recently unveiled a new technology that allows people to pay for goods and services by scanning a QR code on a mobile device. Visa is eyeing the technology for developing countries like India that lack the infrastructure to process card transactions. But given the growing ubiquity of smartphones in the United States, it wouldn’t be hard to picture a time when we won’t even have to carry plastic cards because all payments will be done mobile device to mobile device. We’re already seeing that happen with the gig economy. Thanks to companies like Uber and Lyft, people pay for rides and even tip drivers just by tapping a button on smartphones. No cash. No cards. Story by Thomas Lee for SF Chronicle

Barclays Mobile Banking App Now Lets UK Customers Pay People Using Siri
Barclays has become the first bank in the U.K. to announce Siri support for its mobile banking app, enabling account holders to make payments to anyone in their iPhone contacts list completely handsfree using the virtual assistant. Following the update, customers will be able to make payments by saying, for instance, “Hey Siri, pay Anna £15 with Barclays”, without having to open the app. Payments are authenticated using Touch ID and the feature can be used to pay existing payees or mobile contacts. Story by Tim Hardwick for Mac Rumors

New Report Shows Credit Card Debt Is Hindering 401(k) Savings
A new research report from Schwab Retirement Plan Services highlights the dangers that debt and overspending pose for retirement savings. In a recent survey, only half of the respondents believed they were contributing to the 401(k) plan. For those who were not saving, the main reason appeared to be because they have no money left over each month, or they are already behind on bills. When non-savers were asked about the primary obstacles to their saving for retirement, the top two obstacles noted were credit card debt and regular monthly bills. However, when savers were asked the same question, unexpected expenses topped the list of obstacles, not monthly bills or credit card debt. Story by Jamie Hopkins for Forbes

Cryptocurrency Debit Cards Bridging The Virtual And Real World
While blockchain-backed currencies such as Bitcoin hold great promise in terms of revolutionizing the existing systems, the “usability factor” of these cryptocurrencies stands in the way of their wider adoption. This is largely owing to the regulatory ambiguity and limited merchant acceptance (in direct form). Cryptocurrency debit cards give users the freedom to pay in the virtual currency just like any normal transaction. The ability to use cryptocurrencies for transactions in our day-to-day lives-directly without pre-conversion into fiat-at regular stores, restaurants, or gas stations-can be the tipping point that merges the crypto and real world. Cryptocurrency debit cards function like clones of fiat debit cards in terms of simplicity, ease of use and acceptance. The issuers have mobile applications for contactless payments with a Near Field Communication (NFC) checkout terminal as well as physical debit cards for use at the point-of-sale (PoS). The payments are carried out in collaboration with a payment gateway (Visa or MasterCard), making it very convenient for cryptocurrency investors to use their tokens at millions of locations globally. Story by Prableen Bajpai for Nasdaq

Credit Card Fees Are Out of Control for Millions of Americans: Here’s How to Avoid Outrageous Fees
Credit cards issued to Americans with low credit scores often have higher fees and actually make it harder for borrowers to raise their score than cards for people with better credit. If your credit score is less than 600-as it is for about 16 million Americans, including 38% of millennials-you’re unlikely to qualify for a regular credit card from a mass-market issuer because you’re considered too risky. Instead, you’ve got two main options: a secured card or a regular, unsecured card from what’s known as a subprime specialist issuer. It’s these second kind of cards that may cost consumers more than $2.5 billion a year in fees. These subprime cards charge $154 on average for nonrefundable fees during the first year consumers use them versus $26 for secured cards. While late payment fees are the bane of any credit card holder, some subprime cards tack on additional fees for everything from applying for the card to maintenance, processing and adding an authorized user. Story by James Dennin for AOL

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 15.40 percent, slightly lower than last week’s average of 15.41 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.99 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.64 percent.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 1, 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