Posts Tagged 'debit'

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Hey Congress: Don’t change Interchange

[UPDATE: The fight for Interchange has taken a quacky turn. Check out our response to American Family Voices lobbying efforts.]

The Financial Reform Bill is making its way through Congress, and one amendment – the Interchange Amendment – will make it more expensive and more difficult for credit unions like us to have a debit card program. In the end, you will end up paying more.

We highlighting this fight a few months ago, but now the Financial Reform Bill is getting closer to a vote.

What is Interchange? Interchange is the amount that merchants pay to debit card issuers, like American 1, to maintain our debit system. Interchange pays for security, fraud prevention, upkeep on the system, and more. The Interchange Amendment, however, will reduce the amount of Interchange we receive for each debit payment – meaning we could have to start charging our members to have a debit card.

This is bad for everyone. For one, debit issuers like us assume all the risk for debit card programs. Merchants are paid immediately, but American 1 has to worry about processing all that information. Interchange pays for that upkeep.

Two, merchants claim a lower Interchange will save consumers money. But when was the last time a store dropped their prices or saved you money? They’ll charge the same prices and pocket the rest (as they did in Australia), leaving members to pick up the tab. Or demand cash for each transaction.

Three, merchants could decline smaller debit issuers, like American 1, in favor of big issuers like Bank of America. And we all know big banks like BoA don’t have a friendly card program. But our members may have no other choice if their American 1 debit card is denied at big stores like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot.

All this is why we’re calling Congress and telling them to drop the Interchange Amendment to the Financial Reform Bill. American 1 can’t afford to have a great debit card program without a reasonable Interchange income. The amendment takes away that reasonable income.

To help, CUNA has set up a toll-free hotline to help connect you with your representative in Congress:

(877) 223-5275

Simply dial in your ZIP code and the hotline will direct you to your representative. Leave them a strongly-worded message that you would like them to drop the Interchange Amendment in the Financial Reform Bill. If you’re not sure of what to say to your representative (or their voice mailbox), use our handy script and let your voice be heard.

For more information, here are a few articles:

Debit card denied? Here’s why

Has your debit card been denied sometime in the past week?

There’s a reason, and – if you can believe it – it’s because of a single little number.

Continue reading ‘Debit card denied? Here’s why’

ScamWatch: beware fraud text messages



We recently received word from another credit union that members are receiving fraud text messages citing “unusual account activity.” These text messages provided an 800 number, where members were asked to verify three pieces of information linked to their account to “restore their credit or debit card.” And then it asks them to enter their 16-digit credit or debit card number.

Folks, this is a scam. Credit unions will not alert you via text message when something is wrong with your account. If you ever receive something like this, be sure to double-check the given phone number against our own: (888) 213-2848 or (517) 787-6510. And please, don’t ever enter your credit or debit card number to just anyone. Check and double-check each request for financial information. It could save you a bundle.


Get holiday deals using your American 1 cards

lifetakesvisaholidays

If you’re a holiday shopper, you know to never pay full price – or full shipping – on anything, right?

Just in time for discount shoppers, both Visa and Mastercard are offering discounts to many merchants just by using their cards. For American 1 members, that means simply using your American 1 Visa credit card or Mastercard debit card can earn you great deals from big-name retailers.

Mastercard is offering its Mastercard Savings program free for any Mastercard debit card holders. After you sign up, Mastercard will send you links and coupons for discounts while you shop. The discounts apply to both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Their How it Works page shows some examples of the discounts offered.

Visa, on the other hand, seems to tailor their discounts around the holidays. Their Holiday Deal Train page is decked-out in winter scenery, and a online train that shows various retailer discounts.

Both of these programs are free for American 1 cardholders to use. Mastercard’s Savings program does come with a $30/year premium feature, but it’s totally optional.

If you use either of these programs, be sure to let us know how it goes. Were the discounts enough? What retailers did you use? Sound off in the comments!


ScamWatch: Five new credit card scams

The Consumerist.com, a consumer-advocate blog from Gawker Media, posted four (five, technically, but #1 is actually a credit card practice) new scams that include “cramming,” “shaving,” “minting,” and “skimming.”

The skimming scam (say that five times fast) is one we’ve heard before from local police officers, and involves thieves setting electronic scanners that read your debit/credit card information when you swipe it at machines and terminals.

As always, keep a close eye on your credit card number and card.

Check out our ScamWatch page to learn more ways to protect yourself from identity thieves.