Posts Tagged 'credit card'

Scam Visa calls going around

We’re getting reports of members receiving calls soliciting their Visa information from someone saying their account is going to be closed. The caller comes from an unavailable number and won’t leave a name or identify themselves.

If you receive such a call, don’t give the caller any information. If American 1 has to call you, we already have your account information and don’t have to ask. That, and we’re not afraid to identify ourselves over the phone and leave our phone number. In fact, your caller ID may list us on the display.

When you receive calls like this, simply hang up and call the credit union yourself and ask about the situation. If there is one, you know you’re calling the right people. Plus, we like to stay on top of fraud situations like this.

Credit card phishing alert

Alarming news from the NCUA:

The purpose of this fraud alert is to inform all federally-insured credit unions about a recent phishing attempt to obtain member credit card account numbers, expiration dates and electronic signatures. In cases reported to NCUA, the perpetrator(s) sent fraudulent e-mails, representing to be from the NCUA, to credit union members and the general public. The emails state the NCUA will add $50.00 to the member’s account for taking part in a survey. The link embedded in the message directs members to a counterfeit version of NCUA’s website with an illicit survey that solicits credit card account numbers and confidential personal information.

We are highly concerned about the risk of imitating the NCUA website and the use of the NCUA official logo to potentially make the scam appear more authentic to unsuspecting members. NCUA will never ask credit union members or the general public for personal account or personally identifiable information as part of a survey. Any e-mail that alleges to be from NCUA and asks for account information is fraudulent and should be treated as suspicious.

The NCUA recommends keeping up to date on virus protection software and security updates. Also, if you receive a scam e-mail, send it to Phishing@ncua.gov.

And by all means, do not give our your account information to just anyone that asks.

UPDATE: We just got another report of credit card phishing activity. This time, the caller claims to be with Visa or MasterCard, already has your credit card number, and asks for the three-digit number on the back of the card.

Whatever you do, don’t give them any more information than they already have.

“The member should be advised to note the telephone number of the caller and follow up with Visa or MasterCard by calling the 800 number on the back of the card to report the incident,” Jay A. Slagel, VP or Risk Management for Allied Solutions, advises. “The member should also contact their credit union to advise of the call and what specific requests were made.”

Store credit cards make more, cost more

A news item from the Wall Street Journal confirms what we’ve found – that store cards (like from Target, Kohl’s, or Best Buy) cost more than a plain old credit card:

A chunk of the customer base for these cards is made up of low-income households and less credit-worthy borrowers. As a result, these cards typically carry higher interest rates and lower credit lines than general-purpose cards.

Store label card issuers also make more off these cards.

“Issuers of retail credit cards make $16 to $18 of interest and fee income on every $100 loaned out, before subtracting expenses,” the Journal says. “Earnings on general-purpose cards typically are $14 to $15 per $100 loaned.”

That one or two dollar difference may not seem like a lot, but multiply it by thousand dollar balances and the millions of people who have store cards, and it adds up to a lot of profit for credit card issuers.

Customers think that by signing up for the store card and getting 10% off a purchase (for instance), they’re getting a good deal. Over the long term, however, these store brand cards can cost you more.

Exposed: Best Buy credit card has no good options

Best Buy, the giant electronics and appliances retailer, offers a MasterCard from “the world’s local bank” HSBC that gives you two options: a higher rate, or an annual fee. Neither option is good for you.

The tricky part is that you don’t learn this until you start to fill out Best Buy’s online application. It’s not until you’re just about ready to say “give me the card” that they let you know the bad news. And here it is:

You get the “choice” between a card with an annual percentage rate of 17.99%, 22.99%, or 21.74% if you opt for an annual fee.

If you opt for the annual fee, how much is it?

So you pick – up to 22.99% a year, one of the highest purchase interest rates we’ve seen, or $59 a year. That’s not much of a choice.

And since Best Buy hides their disclosures behind their online application, we downloaded it for you and we’re making it available. Check it out for yourself.

Worst credit card ever: First Premier Bank

In all the Visa card research we’ve done, we finally found a credit card that takes the cake: First Premier Bank‘s credit card.

Why is it the worst? The South Dakota-based bank’s interest rate took our breath away:

First Premier annual fee

And here we thought 29.99% was the most we’d ever seen. Hope you enjoy that $10 purchase, because it could cost you $16 on your next bill.

How about fees? First Premier has them in spades:

First Premier fees

How about $75 in annual fees? Or $36 per year even after you close your account? They won’t even consider your application unless you pay that $45 processing fee.

Here’s our favorite:

First Premier internet fee?

An “internet fee”? To manage your account online, you have to pay $4?

It gets better: First Premier’s online application only asks for $95 to get the whole thing processed. Even if you wanted to apply, good luck visiting their site without getting hit with a swarm of pop-up ads:

First Premier Bank has a record of misleading potential customers and engaging in shady credit card practices. Read the fine print on their credit card statements, and it’s not hard to figure out why.

First Premier claims to “lift others up,” but really – with all those fees – they’re tearing your financial life down.

Useful ideas for your old Visa card

What to do with that closed-out, expensive, higher-rate card from a big out-of-town bank?

Cut it up and use it as a guitar pick! That’s what Financial Facts recommends, along with 10 other oddball ideas. Many Americans have wallets filled with harmful credit cards – why not put them to good use, like combing your hair or cutting your food?

It’s like finding uses for those old AOL discs you got in the mail. Just make sure you close out your account first.

Big bank balance transfer rates going up

Bad news if you play the credit card balance transfer game, says MSN Money:

In July, JPMorgan Chase, the largest credit card issuer in the country, cited the new federal regulations when it sent letters to its customers informing them that the bank will increase its maximum balance transfer fee to 5% — the highest charged by any issuer. Subsequently, the company stopped including balance transfers in most of its new offers.

…Bank of America – the second-largest issuer – has increased its maximum balance transfer fee to 4%…The standard balance transfer fee had been about 3% – and some issuers also limited the total fee, often to less than $100, with caps.

From the research we’ve done, most big bank credit card issuers charge some sort of balance transfer rate on top of the regular rate for each transaction total.

American 1? We don’t charge any balance transfer fee.


American 1 Federal Credit Union