Weekly Credit Card Update June 24, 2010
VERIFYING BORROWER’S FINANCES
Mortgage brokers and lenders will often caution borrowers against charging up their credit cards or changing jobs before the closing date on a home loan. Now that advice seems especially prudent. On June 1, Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored company that establishes the underwriting standards for most of the nation’s mortgages, started requiring lenders to recheck a borrower’s finances shortly before closing the loan. If a broker or lender finds significant changes, the loan could be delayed, or in some cases, denied. Industry executives say the change should not have a drastic effect on borrowing, unless of course, the borrower is prone to running up huge credit card bills.
Story by Bob Tedeschi for the New York Times.
RECENT GRADUATES NEED FINANCIAL ADVICE
Millions of graduates are beginning life on their own, earning their own salary and paying their own bills. This is not an easy transition, and many young people are unprepared for this financial freedom. Parents should give a real-life course in money management to prepare their graduates for financial independence. Many graduates leave college already weighed down by debt. Of the two-thirds of students who borrowed money, the median debt was $20,000. The average starting salary for a new graduate is $30,000.
MERCHANTS WIN DEBIT CARD FEE BATTLE
Retailers stand to reap billions from the financial overhaul legislation being finalized by Congress this week, possibly giving them a long-sought victory by slashing the “swipe fees” that credit card companies charge merchants for every debit card transaction. Members of the House and Senate announced an agreement Monday to include the debit card fee cuts in the final version of the overhaul bill-a loss for the financial industry, which had mounted a furious campaign to eliminate or water down the proposed regulations. The legislation still only applies to debit cards, not traditional credit cards, and thus covers less than half of the annual interchange fees U.S. merchants pay, estimated at $48 billion by the Nilson Report, an industry newsletter.
Story by Miguel Bustillo for the New York Times.
IS THERE A CURE FOR FINANCIAL LITERACY?
Uncle Sam wants to teach you how to manage your money. Tucked into the new financial-overhaul bill that Congress is working to finish is a new Office of Financial Literacy to help consumers learn about savings, debt and credit scores. So what do you want your children to know? A simple checklist should include helping them learn before high school about the difference between wants and needs, how to save, how much people really earn and how a simple budget works. Later, they can be introduced to the basics of insurance, taxes, debt and investing. You also may want to tell them it isn’t a good idea to run up massive debts, spend more than you bring in and fail to put money aside for the future–like a certain government we could mention.
Story by Karen Blumenthal 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 this week decreased
to 13.60%, down from 13.63% last week. Six months ago, the average was 13.12%. One year ago, the average was 12.09%.
CITI BANK OFFERS TEXT BANKING
Citi Text Banking is a new service that delivers account updates on
demand to bank and credit card customers in the United States. Customers simply text a command–such as BAL (for balance)–to MYCITI (692-484). Within seconds, they’ll receive a text message with the account information they requested Citi Text Banking provides updates for all Citi credit card accounts and for Citibank accounts linked to a Citibank ATM or debit card, including checking and savings accounts, home equity lines and loans, personal lines and loans, and mortgages.
HOUSE AGREES TO PUT CONSUMER WATCHDOG IN FED
The Federal Reserve, criticized for failing to protect consumers in the run-up to the credit crisis, would be the home of a new financial consumer watchdog under an agreement announced on Monday. U.S. House of Representatives Democrats said they will go along with a plan to put the watchdog inside the Fed as an independent unit operating within the central bank. The new watchdog, which would consolidate consumer-related duties now dispersed across several agencies, would oversee mortgages, credit cards and other consumer financial products that critics say were poorly supervised in recent years.
Story by Kevin Drawbaugh for Reuters.