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.

  1. Major Provisions
  2. Flawed From the Start?
  3. Why the Law Initially Passed
  4. Legislative Changes to Come
  5. The Rise of Prepaid Cards

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.

Credit Card Return Extension Report: Who Offers the Best Deal?

Return Extension Returns are a fact of retail life, especially after major celebrations and holidays. In fact, 68.6% of U.S. adults returned some of their holiday gifts last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Complicating the matter is the issue of return fraud – such as returning a used or stolen item – which impacts roughly 5.5% of returns and has spurred the implementation of stricter return policies that can negatively impact innocent consumers. What’s more, 31% of people say they rarely or never include a gift receipt in the presents they give others.

So, what is a consumer to do upon encountering difficulties when trying to return an item? The answer might already be in your wallet, interestingly enough. That is because, like with rental car insurance and extended warranties, all the major credit card networks – Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover – offer what’s known as a return extension, which enables eligible cardholders to return items that a retailer won’t accept.

CardHub’s 2015 Money-Saving Resolutions

Card Hub New Year Resolution

New Year’s isn’t just a time for revelry and midnight kissing; it’s also a landmark for new beginnings. Before the confetti from New Year’s Eve is even swept up, folks around the world will be busy making promises to themselves and loved ones about how they plan to change their lives for the better in the coming months. That’s why the gym always seems so crowded in January, while the job market gets flooded with new applicants and fledgling teetotalers lock their liquor cabinets and hide the keys.

New Year’s Resolutions aren’t limited to one’s physical health and career prospects, however. Financial well-being is a common theme as well, with people often pledging to finally pay off their debt and/or do a better job of budgeting.

2014 Credit Card Debt Study

Card Hub 2014 Credit Card Debt StudyConsumer credit card debt statistics – an indicator of spending trends and household financial health – support the notion of a rapidly improving economy, which is further evidenced by the fact that an impressive 321,000 jobs were added in November while the unemployment rate hovers at 5.8%. The credit card charge-off rate, at 2.89%, is at the lowest point since 1985, you see, which indicates that consumers have the financial wherewithal to remain current on their obligations. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that while economic gains are making consumer spending habits sustainable for now, our attitudes toward debt have not improved since the Great Recession. Our credit card performance has deteriorated on a year-over-year basis for four straight quarters, punctuated by a $15.94 billion increase during Q3 2014. This represents a 35% increase over Q3 2013 and a 25% rise relative to Q3 2012. Furthermore, we now project that U.S. consumers will incur a total of more than $60 billion in new credit card debt by the end of 2014, which would be an increase of at least 55% over 2013.

CardHub’s Credit Predictions for 2015

CardHub Predictions 15B

A crystal ball is a valuable thing. After all, if any of us truly had one, we could make a killing in the stock market. But while 20-20 vision is ultimately reserved for hindsight and no one can actually predict the future, we can indeed make some educated guesses as to what the coming months will hold for our wallets.

Doing so is especially important as we prepare to celebrate the holidays, ring in the New Year, and turn the page on 2014 because it will enable us to chart a path toward financial success in 2015 and away from missteps and money loss. With that in mind, CardHub’s editors have consulted a number of prominent financial experts in making predictions for what 2015 has in store for the credit markets, from debt levels to interest rates.

2014’s Most Popular Gift Cards & 8 Gift Card Tips

8 Things To Know About Gift Cards

There are a few things we can count on every year during the holidays: time off from school; an overweight, bearded out-of-towner breaking into homes via chimney; tone-deaf neighbors singing at your doorstep; embarrassing antics at office holiday parties; eating a bit too much; and, of course, gift cards.

Gift cards are the most sought after type of present for the eighth straight holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation, with 62% of consumers hoping to receive one this year. But not all gift cards are created equal, and it’s important to understand which ones are the most popular as well as what industry trends you can take advantage of in order to both please the people on your gift giving list and save some money during this expensive time of the year. After all, holiday shoppers are expected to shell out an average of $804.42, with the average gift card buyer projected to spend $172.74 on plastic alone. We could all stand to lower those tabs.

The Pros & Cons of the CFPB’s New Rules for Prepaid Cards

CFBP

Summary: The CFPB’s new rules for prepaid cards are altogether beneficial to consumers – improving transparency and bolstering rights – and there is nothing in them that will have unintended consequences for the public. However, the organization did miss a couple of important opportunities to truly make a major impact on the behalf of users. For example, the regulator did not take steps to limit the number of fees a prepaid card can charge, nor did it address the issue of inconsistent FDIC insurance for prepaid card funds.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Nov. 13 announced a sweeping new set of rules for the prepaid card market, setting this increasingly popular form of payment up for some big changes once a mandatory 90-day public comment period concludes. These proposed rules – which we’ll examine in detail below – have been a long time coming, as the CFPB first announced an advance notice of rulemaking two years ago in response to the rising rate of usage among consumers.

Credit Card Extended Warranty Study: What Type of Credit Card is Best?

Extended WarrantyUnbeknownst to many consumers, credit cards provide a number of ancillary benefits, including rental car insurance and extended product warranties. These benefits generally do not come from credit card issuers, but rather from the card networks that each card is linked to. In this study, we will explore the extended warranty programs offered by the four major card networks: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.

Thirty-one percent of consumers purchase extended warranties each year, according to a study from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, at a cost of $1.6 billion. And while these warranties generally account for 3-4% of a company’s revenue, according to Business Week, they often represent as much as 50% of its profit, thanks to margins between 50% and 60% . As a result, extended warranties are generally regarded as being among the biggest money wasters for consumers and the ability to garner necessary coverage at no cost through one’s credit card can provide a valuable source of savings.

All You Need to Know About Apple Pay

Apple Pay
The latest innovation out of Cupertino, California is here: Apple Pay. Apple Pay is the technology giant’s entrant into the emerging world of virtual wallets and is now available on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 as well as the forthcoming Apple Watch. With it, users can enter their credit card information into their devices or iTunes accounts and then use the devices to securely make purchases either online or at the point of sale.

As things currently stand, Apple Pay is accepted at 220,000 brick-and-mortar stores across the United States, including locations of mega-retailers like Whole Foods, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Chevron and Subway. All in all, it can be used with 35 retail brands in person and 23 store brands online. Apple Pay can also be used to make purchases through 18 apps, including Uber, Lyft, OpenTable and Airbnb.

Prepaid Cards Create Confusion in the Checkout Lane

Prepaid Card Gift Card Confusion

The rise of prepaid cards has been well-documented.  The fastest growing form of electronic payment from 2006 to 2009, according to the Federal Reserve, prepaid cards truly burst into the mainstream after the Durbin Amendment to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act decreased debit card interchange fees and thereby reduced the profitability of traditional checking accounts.  And while prepaid cards have proven apt to serve a number of important functions – from financial literacy teaching tool to replacement checking account – the combination of their newfound popularity and the manner in which they’re marketed has also created a great deal of confusion.

Not only are prepaid cards often erroneously referred to as “prepaid credit cards,” giving consumers the mistaken belief that they provide a line of credit or credit building capabilities, but they’re also increasingly being stocked right next to gift cards in grocery and convenience stores. While they may look similar, prepaid cards are not gift cards, nor should they be viewed as last-minute pick-ups to be grabbed as you make your way to the register with your groceries.  Here’s why.

2014 Credit Card Application Study

CardHub 2014 Credit Card Application Study Picking a credit card can be a difficult task. Not only are there more than 1,000 different offers on the market, but the inconsistent manner in which their terms are advertised can also make direct product comparison seemingly impossible. As a result, even if you know what your credit standing is and therefore what category of card you may qualify for, identifying the best offer for your particular needs and spending habits can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. That is why CardHub – in an effort to aid consumers, praise straightforward issuers, and draw attention to those that obfuscate card terms – conducts an annual Credit Card Application Study. In this, the fifth iteration of the Study, we strived to evaluate the clarity with which the 10 largest credit card issuers disclose information about their products on their websites. More specifically, we sought to answer the following questions:

1) Rewards Clarity – Can a consumer easily determine how rewards are earned as well as what they are worth, without being forced to read any fine print?

Ask The Experts: Can Employers Screen Job Applicants Based on Criminal Records?

Criminal Records And Employment

An employer’s use of a job applicant’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued new guidance, urging employers to review their hiring policies to make sure they are not engaging in racial discrimination when they screen applicants based on any previous criminal history.

Ask The Experts: What Should We Do with the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction?

Experts Discuss Changes To Charitable Giving Tax Deduction

Just picture all of the starving children and imprisoned puppies.  That’s exactly what opponents of proposed changes to the 96-year-old charitable giving tax exemption want public opinion to center on.  But those who do support some sort of fundamental change will counter with images of a bedraggled, homeless Uncle Sam begging for food money on a street corner somewhere.  The question is, who’s right?

It’s hard to decipher right from wrong when you’re ostensibly choosing between the lifeblood of philanthropy and the federal government’s long-term financial security, especially since both sides will quote their fair share of supporting research.  Further complicating matters is the notion that this needn’t really be a disparate, cause-and-effect type of decision.  In other words, changing the way people approach charitable giving with tax implications in mind isn’t the only way to skin the budget cat.

Ask The Experts: Tips for Turning Summer Break Into A Brighter Future

Best Summer Jobs Internships For Young People

Whether you’re prone to believing that kids should just be kids for as long as possible or that they should get off their spoiled butts and start pulling their own weight, the financial tumult we’ve endured in recent years has made clear how important it is to start sowing the seeds of a successful financial future early.

We saw a 23-year-high unemployment rate in October 2009 (10.0%), at which time 15.7 million people were out of work in the United States.  We saw more than 1 out of 10 credit card users fall so far behind on their bills during the first half of 2010, that banks legally had to write their debt off the books (the consumers still owed it, however).  And we’ve also seen U.S. consumers rack up more than $73 billion in new credit card debt in the last two years alone.

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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.