2015 Secured Credit Cards Report

SECURED CREDIT CARDSRoughly one out of every three people has a below-average credit score. Not only do one’s monthly expenses rise as their credit score falls, but access to credit declines dramatically as well. This represents something of a Catch-22 for newcomers and those working to rebuild their standing, since a monthly influx of positive information from a responsibly managed loan or line of credit is the only way to either build a solid score from scratch or devalue negative credit report listings.

That’s why a secured card can be such an important tool. No matter how slim approval rates get for unsecured credit cards, or how much issuer competition exists, you can pretty much be assured of getting a secured card as long as you have at least $200 for the refundable security deposit. And since this deposit doubles as your spending limit, thereby preventing overspending and minimizing risk, issuers don’t need to charge much in the way of fees.

2015 Credit Card Application Study

CREDIT CARD APPLICATIONHow easy is it to find the right credit card online? While comparison tools and customer reviews simplify the selection process in many respects, marketing obfuscation and inconsistency on the part of issuers makes it difficult for consumers to accurately discern each offer’s net value proposition, and thus which card will best suit their needs.

In order to gauge the extent of the problem, and highlight specific areas of concern for consumers, we evaluated online credit card listings from the websites of 10 large national banks as well as 10 of the most popular credit unions. We then scored each website based on the manner in which they characterize the following types of account information:

2015 Credit Card Landscape Report

2015 Credit Card Landscape Not only do credit card offers regularly fluctuate in value, corresponding to changes in the economic climate or issuer strategy – but credit card market trends are also extremely revealing in terms of the health of the country’s economy and that of its consumers. Keeping track of this information is therefore essential to finding the best deals and truly understanding the financial climate.

CardHub aims to provide the requisite insights by monitoring market data regarding interest rates, rewards and fees across credit segments and highlighting the most important trends in our quarterly credit card landscape reports. You can check out our latest findings below.

2015 Report: The Best Credit Card Travel Insurance

cc travel benefitsLeisure travel represents a significant investment for consumers in terms of both time and money, so it’s no surprise that folks are interested in protecting their precious resources. But given that travel insurance packages typically cost 4% to 8% of the price of a trip, most of us seem content rolling the dice.

Unfortunately, while illness and natural disasters interfere with the travel plans of 1 in 6 Americans, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, only 22% of those affected have travel insurance. The good news is that the solution might already be in your wallet. The travel-related benefits provided by credit cards extend well beyond points and miles, you see, and two of the most significant, yet under-acknowledged such perks are auto rental insurance and general travel insurance.

Rental Car Insurance: 2015’s Best Credit Card Coverage

Auto Rental InsuranceWhen most people think of credit card perks, their minds turn to rewards, low interest rates and convenience. However, credit cards provide a number of additional standard benefits that help protect cardholders from both monetary loss and unnecessary hassle. One of these benefits is car rental insurance, which is primarily driven by the card network and not the card issuer.

To provide context, roughly 20% of consumers always purchase supplemental insurance coverage when renting a car, according to a study from Progressive Insurance, and another 20% do so on occasion. The primary motivation for such purchases is confusion as to whether one’s personal auto insurance extends to rental cars. Indeed, 62% of consumers don’t believe their personal auto insurance automatically covers rental cars, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Similarly, 24% aren’t sure whether their credit cards provide any sort of coverage either.

2015 Prepaid Cards Report: Which Card Is Right For You?

Prepaid Cards
Consumers are increasingly turning away from traditional checking accounts in favor of alternative cash management tools – perhaps most notably, prepaid cards. Both the number of prepaid cards in circulation and the amount of money consumers are loading onto them have skyrocketed in recent years, as new issuers have entered the market and the general public has gotten acquainted with this relatively new financial instrument. As of 2012, roughly 12 million Americans used a prepaid card at least once a month and we collectively loaded $65 billion to them – double the amount loaded just three years prior. That figure is expected to rise to $337.8 billion by 2017, according to Mercator Advisory Group – an increase of 420%.

So, what is all the fuss about? And which, if any, prepaid card is right for you?

2015 Credit Card Debt Study: Trends & Insights

Credit Card Debt
The global economy has been in something of a holding pattern, as the suppressed cost of oil and the strength of the Dollar have provided a windfall for some households while making the earnings expectations of many companies unattainable. And while recent reports foretell the continued growth of the U.S. economy, analysis of the newest data on consumer spending and payment habits could serve to either substantiate our enthusiasm or dampen it with the clouds of caution.

During the first quarter of 2015, U.S. consumers paid down $34.7 billion in amounts owed to credit card companies. And though first quarter debt paydowns are the norm – as consumers are fueled by annual salary bonuses, tax refunds and New Year’s Resolutions – this year’s debt reduction was 7% larger than those of the past two years. That’s the good news.

Currency Exchange Study: How to Save on International Spending

currency exchangeExchanging currency is necessary for most trips outside the United States, and consumers have a number of options when it comes to converting U.S. dollars into the currency used in a particular destination. The two main ways to do so are: 1) automatically with a credit card; and 2) converting hard currency at a bank or airport kiosk. But which offers the best deal?

This might seem like less of a concern in light of the dollar’s current strength relative to other currencies, but that’s just a flawed assumption. You have to look at things in percentage terms – paying 20% interest is expensive, while a 10% investment return is fantastic, for example – as well as at the overall dollars and cents. Saving 15% on a weeklong European vacation, which runs the average family of four around $4,000, will equate to an extra $600 in your pocket. That’s the equivalent of staying an extra night, or perhaps even opting to fly first class.

2015 Credit Card Rewards Report

Credit Card Rewards

Picking a rewards credit card is a big deal, and the market can be difficult to decipher – with hundreds of available offers, numerous rewards currencies and various restrictions to watch out for. And, the truth is, some issuers simply provide more value than others. Carefully comparing your options prior to submitting an application thus proves to be quite pivotal and can be the difference between reaping enough rewards for a plane ticket versus a small-value gift card.

CardHub has therefore taken on the task of reviewing the consumer credit card rewards market for you. We analyzed every non-cobranded rewards credit card offer from the 10 largest issuers and devised a grading rubric to provide a basis for comparison as well as to quantify issuers’ rewards policies. To check out our findings and tips for choosing a rewards card, read on below.

2015 Small Business Credit Card Study

Small Business Study LogoSmall business owners aren’t people. Well, at least that’s how the current regulatory environment portrays them. Congress pretty much left the small business community out in the cold by not including credit cards branded for business use within the scope of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. That might not seem like too big of a deal at first, but consider all the CARD Act has done for consumers in recent years.

The law’s bans on bait-and-switch pricing, exorbitant fees and shady accounting practices have resulted in not only a more transparent credit card marketplace, but also a two percentage-point reduction in the cost of credit between 2008 and 2012, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There has also been a, a $6 decrease in the average late fee, which has saved consumers $1.5 billion as of 2013, and a near elimination of over-limit fees that saved consumers $2.5 billion in 2012 alone.

Common Tax Scams & Tips for Avoiding Fraud

Tax Scams And Fraud Prevention

With Tax Day fast approaching, we’re all aware that our personal finances will be under the microscope for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, not everyone parsing our private information will have the requisite authority to do so, as the history of tax fraud is just as long as that of taxes.

In order to avoid the monetary loss, credit score damage, and inconvenience that are so often byproducts of tax malfeasance, consumers must understand not only what the most common types of tax fraud are, but also how to thwart them.

2015 EMV Migration Report

cardhub EMV badgeRecent high-profile data breaches, such as those perpetrated against Target and Home Depot, have thrust smart chip credit cards and the term “EMV” into the public consciousness as the banking and retail industries ready themselves for the impending October 2015 liability shift. Visa and MasterCard set that as the deadline for when banks and merchants must have enabled chip-card payments or else incur significant added liability for fraudulent transactions.

But, as the consumer education process continues, the question still remains: How prepared are the country’s largest retailers and credit card issuers? How many cards and point of sale machines will be replaced? And are any banks or retailers opting for added liability rather than overhaul their hardware?

Gift Card Scams & How to Avoid Them

Scam Concept

Gift cards are big business. We’ve spent $522 billion on them since 2010 – including $124 billion in 2014 alone. Gift cards have also been the most requested type of present for eight straight holiday seasons, according to CEB TowerGroup and the National Retail Federation. Heck, more than $44 billion in gift cards have even gone to waste since 2005, including $750 million in 2014.

The problem is, fraud happens to be a booming industry as well.  Not only have a string of high-profile data breaches endangered consumer data and shaken our collective confidence, but billions of dollars in losses are reported each year due to payments fraud and identity theft.  And while credit cards and debit cards garner most of the attention as far as fraud is concerned, the combined popularity of gift cards and brazenly determined fraudsters indicates that something fishy must indeed be going on at their intersection.

2015 Balance Transfer Report

Balance Transfer Study
Rising credit card debt levels, a recovering economy and historic 0% credit card offers have combined to create an ideal balance transfer landscape. In fact, the right balance transfer deal now stands to save the average household – which has $7,126 in credit card debt alone – more than $1,000 in fees and finance charges while helping them pay off amounts owed months sooner.

However, a general lack of consumer understanding prevents most people from taking full advantage of this sweet-spot for savings. This study will strive to close that knowledge gap by comparing the policies of 15 major credit card companies and ultimately bringing clarity to the following key issues:

Valentine’s Day Credit Card Savings

Best Credit Cards Valentines

For many of us, the countdown to February 14 brings with it an increasing level of stress as we struggle to find a great present, make a reservation at the right restaurant and, most importantly, find a way to pay for it all.

In support of your plight, CardHub has identified a number of ways to ease the pain that love inflicts on your wallet.  From seasonal discounts for existing cardholders to new cards offering the kinds of low rates and lucrative initial rewards bonuses you need to cure Cupid’s hangover, we’ve got you covered!

2015 Fraud Liability Study: Which Cards Protect You Best?

Fraud LiabilityDespite the fact that fraudulent losses amount to only $0.05 per $100 in credit and debit card transactions, consumers have an obvious and increasing fear of fraud – particularly the digital variety. Identity theft and hacking are actually Americans’ two biggest fears, according to a recent Gallup poll, reflecting the toll recent data breaches have taken on our cultural psyche.

Fear of fraud has unfortunately been known to influence consumer banking and spending habits, often dictating which payment vehicles we use and, in extreme cases, fostering a debilitating level of paranoia that makes operating within the modern banking system impossible. But is it really something we need to worry about? And, if so, how worried should we be?

The Durbin Amendment in Review

The Durbin Amendament In Review

The Durbin Amendment to the Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act granted merchants and regulators certain new powers in respect to credit card transactions while also capping debit card interchange fees – what merchants pay banks when their cards are used as payment – at $0.21 + 0.05% and an additional $0.01 for costs associated with fraud prevention. This cap on so-called swipe fees – which is costing banks $8.4 billion in annual revenue, according to CardHub research – was supposedly designed to lower costs for consumers by decreasing the financial burden on merchants. However, all it really has done – as you’ll see below – is cause a major restructuring of the payments landscape, actually hurting our wallets.

Why We Are Going to Court for CardHub Users

Card Hub Fight

UPDATE: Great news, Hubsters! Just two days after a federal judge in South Dakota rejected a bid by First Premier for a gag order against CardHub, the subprime credit card issuer abandoned its controversial lawsuit in a one-sentence document filed late last week. This is an important victory for consumer rights as well as the health of the credit card industry, and we would really like to thank everyone who supported us throughout our fight.

After all, First Premier’s surrender follows a backlash of criticism over its litigation tactics, including coverage by the Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, CBS and even Buzzfeed, plus commentary from leading consumer rights activists.

5 Tips for Using Unwanted Gift Cards

What To Do With Unwanted Gift Cards

How can we glean value from unused gift cards? That’s an important question, considering more than $45 billion in gift cards have gone unredeemed since 2005, according to TowerGroup and CardHub estimates.

CardHub – the only marketplace that allows you to sell ANY gift card, regardless of denomination or store affiliation – has come up with a list of 5 Tips for Using Unwanted Gift Cards in order to help people make more efficient use of their money. After all, we could use the extra cash to help pay off some of the roughly $60 billion in new credit card debt that we added to our tab in 2014.

Price Protection Report: Credit Cards Shielding You From Price Drops

Price Protection The combination of recession-reduced budgets, intense competition in the retail space, and tried-and-true consumer price sensitivity has fostered an environment in which price-match guarantees are something of a staple. Most of the largest brick-and-mortar retailers – think Walmart, Best Buy and Toys”R”Us – use price matching to avoid serving as showrooms for Internet giants like Amazon. This is also a direct reflection of consumer preferences, as 21% of shopper request a price match when they encounter prices in a store that they feel are too high, while 19% leave and look for a lower price online, according to Cognizant’s Shopper Experience Study. Furthermore, 29% of people said that price matching by store associates is their top priority for store improvement.

As much as people love price matching at the point of sale, being able to buy with the confidence that you’re guaranteed of getting the best price that comes available in the next 60-90 days after you make your purchase would be pretty mind-blowing. That power may already lie in our wallets, believe it or not. Much like they provide rental car insurance, extended product warranties and return extension, many credit cards also provide price matching programs. While these programs vary by card, they generally enable consumers to receive a refund when they purchase an item and soon after submit proof of a lower price available elsewhere. Such an option is extremely important in the contemporary retail environment, considering how frequently merchants seem to hold sales.

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Our content is intended for general educational purposes and should not be relied upon as the sole basis for managing your finances. Furthermore, the materials on this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you have any legal questions, please consult an attorney. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.