LowCards Weekly Credit Card Update June 15

June 15, 2012, Written By Bill Hardekopf
LowCards Weekly Credit Card Update  June 15

No-Foreign-Fee Cards Still Best for Overseas Spending
Credit cards that don’t carry foreign transaction fees are generally the best option for spending while traveling internationally. There are more cards now that come without the fees. Roughly 82 percent of cards carry the fees, down from about 90 percent a year ago. Using cards that don’t charge the fees not only saves you money but avoids hassles, since the currency is converted automatically whenever you make a purchase. Credit card companies are dropping the foreign fees on some cards in a bid to attract clients with solid credit, since those consumers tend to be more affluent and travel overseas.

Story by Ann Carrns for the New York Times

Would You Buy Stuff at a Garage Sale with a Credit Card?
Every summer, phone poles fill up with colorful fliers advertising events like garage sales, flea markets and bake sales. But this year, you’re more likely than ever to pay with plastic for that tchotchke or cupcake. A new study confirms that we’re using cash less often than either debit or credit cards, and devices that let any seller accept a credit card have just hit shelves at more than 20,000 stores. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, the amount of cash we spend is dropping. At stores, debit cards now make up 31% of sales volume, followed by credit cards at 29%. Cash makes up 27%, and Javelin says this will drop by four more percentage points in five years.

Story by Martha White for Time

Apple’s Stash of Credit Card Numbers is its Secret Weapon
That little iPhone in your pocket is perfectly positioned to become a clone of the credit cards in your wallet or purse. And Apple can thank the music purchases on the iPod if and when it pulls this off. Apple now has 400 million active accounts in iTunes with credit cards. That means that all of Apple’s iOS devices are linked to those credit cards, too. Think about that for a moment. While companies like Google have been trying to shift consumers to use mobile phones to pay for products, rather than cash or cards, one of the biggest hurdles stopping consumers has been the laborious task of linking a smartphone to a plastic credit card. Yet if Apple decides to get into the payments business–and it is very likely the company will, based on patents it has filed in the past–it will have a much easier time converting customers. Once someone logs into an iPhone and downloads or syncs music or apps, the iTunes account is automatically linked to the phone, as is the credit card and payment information. All the company needs to do is resolve how payments would happen with a card.

Story by Nick Bilton for the New York Times

GE’s Private-Label Credit Cards Might Be an Easier Sell Now
GE once again says it’s considering sales of its lending business, including private-label credit card portfolios, which it tried unsuccessfully to unload around 2008. This time might be different, though, given big banks like Citigroup are recommitting to it, and others, like Wells Fargo and Discover, say they want to get into the business. Private-label cards have traditionally performed worse than general-purpose cards in part because they are lent to consumers with worse credit. However, losses on such portfolios have fallen in conjunction with an overall improvement in credit card performance. GE’s portfolio includes credit cards issued for Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and American Eagle Outfitters. Wells Fargo has said it’s interested in the business, as has Discover Financial Services.

Story by Andrew Johnson for the Wall Street Journal

Consumers Made Beneficial Credit Card Changes During the Recession
A new Federal Reserve study shows the devastation of the recent recession on family finances. The average family’s net worth dropped almost 40 percent between 2007 and 2010–from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. The report estimates the recession eliminated 18 years of savings and investment. But when it comes to credit cards, consumers seem to have made a number of positive changes during this tough financial period.

Story by Lynn Oldshue for LowCards.com

Credit Cards: Top Four Tips for Retirees
Credit cards make sense in retirement, as long as you don’t slack off on managing your credit. Seniors who maintain a healthy credit history and high FICO scores will benefit–not only from low interest rates and better terms on loans, but also from leveraging lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses to earn thousands in free travel, cash back, or other merchandise. The key is to use credit cards responsibly. Here are four tips on how to use your credit cards in retirement.

Story by Joshua Heckathorn for the Christian Science Monitor

Plan to Disclose Credit Card Complaints Faces Opposition
The banking industry is fighting a federal agency’s proposal to put complaints that consumers make about their credit cards online for everyone to see. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed website would allow credit card shoppers to search by company to see what kinds of complaints other customers have. The idea, first floated in December, would allow the public to “get that information when it’s most pertinent and convenient for them.” The card issuers say there’s no assurance that the complaints aren’t frivolous–or even that the person complaining is an actual customer.

Story by Gregory Korte for USA Today

Lemon Aims to Squeeze More Juice from E-Wallets
Putting a new “twist” on digital wallet technology, Lemon Inc. has raised $8 million in a Series A round led by Maveron. Lemon focuses on payments and all the other sensitive stuff in your wallet, too. The Lemon app lets users snap images of debit, credit, loyalty, health insurance and ID cards, as well as receipts, tickets and coupons, then upload these to a secure account in the cloud. The accounts store information associated with each card or slip of paper so that they are accessible from any web-connected device. It can even associate “in case of theft” phone numbers with different card types, a handy bit of info for a traveler in a panicked state of mind. Lemon just launched a more feature-rich version of its app, Lemon Pro, for $9.99 per month. Lemon Pro users will eventually be able to automatically notify credit and government agencies, and various service providers to be on fraud alert, and suspend services should they lose their phones or wallets.

Story by Lora Kolodny for the Wall Street Journal

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report
Based on the 1000+ cards in the LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index, the average advertised APR for credit cards is 14.26 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.00 percent. One year ago, the average was 13.95 percent.


The information contained within this article was accurate as of June 15, 2012. 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.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf