Wednesday,26th February, 2014
The Federal Reserve unveiled its provisional consumer credit data (excluding mortgages) for December 2013 on Feb. 7, and the figures revealed that credit card debt jumped by $5 billion that month. That brought the rise in card balances over the whole of 2013 to $16.1 billion. On Dec. 31, Americans owed $861.9 billion on their plastic. Credit card debt manageable Those big numbers may sound troubling, but, as IndexCreditCards.com has previously observed, they aren't really -- at least for now. Of course, it's pretty much inevitable that some individuals are currently struggling to stay on top of their plastic, but, for American consumers as a whole, this level of card debt is likely to be sustainable. The Fed's archive shows that credit card debt reached an all-time high back in December 2008, when it stood at $1,005,235.04 million -- or just over one trillion.
Wednesday,19th February, 2014
Regular readers may know that IndexCreditCards.com isn't a big fan of store cards. True, they can work well for some people, but a huge number of consumers end up paying very high interest rates for very few worthwhile benefits. Now a January report from Javelin Strategy & Research, an independent company that provides insights into customer transactions, suggests there's a new reason to dislike store cards: they tend to be way less secure than mainstream credit cards. Credit cards better Maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise, but, on average, retailers simply aren't as good at preventing and resolving fraud issues as financial institutions, according to the report. This used a scorecard system to measure different card issuers across three fraud-related criteria: Prevention Detection Resolution
Wednesday,12th February, 2014
Early in December, IndexCreditCards.com reported FICO's offer to allow credit card companies, free of charge, to pass on to consumers their latest credit scores each month. Barclaycard and First Bankcard were the first to take advantage of this new facility, closely followed by Discover, which piloted the program with holders of just one of its products. Now Discover has announced it's rolling out the service to all its consumer credit card customers. Knowledge is power Discover says its intention is to empower its customers by providing them with the information and knowledge they need to better manage their finances.
Wednesday,05th February, 2014
Bank of America recently announced its 2014 Museums on Us initiative, which permits its cardholders, including those who have Merrill Lynch-branded plastic, to gain free access to 150 cultural venues in 89 cities across 30 states. The offer applies only on the first full weekend of every month, and those taking advantage of it must present a Bank of America debit or credit card, along with a valid photo ID. They should then receive one free admission, although not to fundraisers, special exhibitions or other ticketed events. Existing participating venues include Houston Zoo, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. These are joined for the first time this year by 11 new venues, including Pérez Art Museum in Miami and the International Center of Photography in New York City. A full list of all the participating institutions can be accessed through http://museums.bankofamerica.com/. Credit cards offer more
Wednesday,29th January, 2014
When it came to shopping in December, the fastest growing payment method was credit cards. Its growth, compared with the same period in 2012, was significantly higher than that for signature debit cards, PIN debit cards, prepaid cards or checks. This information comes to you courtesy of First Data SpendTrend, a tracking study that uses same-store data to measure how shoppers choose to pay for their purchases at nearly 4 million merchant locations across the United States. Here are the actual findings, based on the dollar value of transactions for each medium, over the period Dec. 3-30, 2013: Credit cards: up 7.8 percent Prepaid cards: up 5.2 percent PIN debit: up 4.3 percent Signature debit: up 4.0 percent Check: down 2.1 percent Credit card's growth good news These data won't come as a surprise to regular readers. In late November, IndexCreditCards.com published More spending, more credit card use expected this holiday season, which included The Nilson Report research that predicted the trend. That article welcomed the news, because increased use doesn't necessarily mean increased credit card debt. Many who pay by plastic routinely pay their balances in full each month, while enjoying the perks, protections and rewards that only credit cards can provide.
Wednesday,22nd January, 2014
The first day of 2014 saw the sale of marijuana for recreational use legalized in Colorado and Washington. A further 18 states (making 20 states in all) and Washington, D.C. already had laws in place on that date that permit the use of the drug for medical purposes. The federal government, of course, maintains its theoretical ban on the substance, although, operationally, enforcement has been rare where it would conflict with local legislation. Both the president and the Department of Justice have recently signaled their intentions to turn a blind eye to the most recent legalizations, according to a Jan. 9 Bloomberg report. Weedy laws If this conflict between state and federal laws causes problems for law enforcement officers, imagine what it's doing for those who run banks and credit card companies. Traditionally, those in the financial sector who knowingly handle the proceeds of drug trafficking frequently find themselves swapping their spacious Wall Street offices for somewhat more cramped accommodation in a federal penitentiary. How certain can they be that they won't fall foul of a zealous prosecutor or a change of administration if they now enable transactions that are legal and illegal at the same time? Cannabis on credit
Wednesday,15th January, 2014
Having heard reports of unusually frequent card fraud from customers of Neiman Marcus's upmarket brick-and-mortar outlets, Brian Krebs, publisher of KrebsonSecurity.com, approached the retailer to ask for further information. And, in a Jan. 10 post, Krebs revealed that the company had acknowledged that it is working with the Secret Service and an external forensics firm to investigate a possible breach of its database of customer debit and credit card data. Little hard information is available at the time of this writing, but, in a statement to Krebs, the company acknowledged that: It first learned of a possible problem in mid-December. It was told by its forensic consultants on Jan. 1 of "a criminal cyber-security intrusion and that some customers' cards were possibly compromised as a result." It was working to contain the intrusion, and to enhance its information security infrastructure. Target problem bigger than feared