Posts Tagged 'mastercard'

Kardashian Kard kancelled

kardashian kard

Aw, shucks – the horrifyingly-bad Kardashian pre-paid debit card has been cancelled because of sky-high fees:

Those fees included a $1.50 fee for ATM withdrawals, a dollar fee if the ATM withdrawal or point-of-sale transaction was declined, and a $9.95 fee to replace a lost or stolen card. And canceling the card would have cost you $6.

With the Kardashian Kard, which was actually a very pricey prepaid debit card rather than a credit card, consumers had the choice of either a six-month plan that would have cost $59.95 or a 12-month plan the would have cost $99.95. The cost of each plan included a purchase fee, minimum deposit and monthly fee for the plan period.

A pre-paid debit card comes loaded with funds to spend, and seems like a great idea for travelers or as an alternative to gift cards. But add in all those fees, and they become a budget buster.

This is a good lesson to keep in mind for credit and store charge cards as well. No matter whose name or logo is on the card, watch out for fees and rates. Is it worth your budget to have someone’s name on the card?

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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.

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.

Compare your card with American 1’s Visa

Next week, we’re launching an initiative called We Understand. We’ve read the news about what big, out-of-town banks are doing to their credit card customers, and we think our Visa card can be a viable alternative to higher rates, annual fees, and hidden charges.

We have so much confidence in our Visa card, in fact, that we’ve done a bunch of research on everyone else’s card for a fair comparison. What’s their rate? What penalties do they charge? How much extra do you have to pay for a balance transfer?

So we’ve lined up our card with dozens of others in a handly, downloadable format – our Credit Card Comparison.

Feel free to download the PDF, browse through what cards are out there, and make your own determination about which card fits you best. Note that, on the comparison, anything marked in red means you’ll pay more with that card. Hopefully that makes it easy to do some comparison shopping.

We think that our combination of hometown service, ScoreCard points for gift and travel rewards, no extra or hidden fees for things like balance transfers and cash advances, and a stable, steady, and affordable rate make American 1 the best place to get a credit card.

But do your own research. And, while you’re at it, watch our fun video.

Store cards hurt more than help

With all the Christmas shopping, you might be tempted to save 10 or 15% on your store purchases by signing up for a store credit card.

The drawbacks, as the New York Times puts it, may outweight that one-time benefit:

As one expert put it, if you strip away the store discounts and brand names that come with these cards, many are essentially the same products marketed to subprime borrowers, or individuals with tarnished or fairly new credit histories. Would you really choose a card with an interest rate of say, 25 percent, or about 9 percentage points higher on average than many other credit cards?

You may save on that initial purchase, but gotchas like a higher interest rate, a lower credit score, or spiking rates after a promotion are some of the harmful effects of signing up for store-brand cards.

To learn more about how big bank credit cards can “get ya,” visit our Operation: Your Best Interest site.

Help us fight for Interchange

Your debit or credit card transaction goes something like this: You buy something at a retailer, either online or in your hometown, and you go to pay with your card. Your payment gets split, with a tiny percentage going to Visa or MasterCard, and the rest going to the merchant.

But now Congress is looking to change the whole system in a way that hurts American 1 and other financial institutions.

Merchants pay a fee for the privilege of using Visa/MasterCards payment infrastructure. That’s called interchange. Visa and MasterCard pay card providers, like American 1, a bit of that interchange for being a part of their system.

Everyone wins. The merchant gets an ease-of-use system for payments, Visa gets some income from the merchant, and we, as a credit union, get a fraction of that income for providing the debit or credit cards. Interchange is great because it helps credit unions of all sizes to issue debit and credit cards. We see interchange as a merchant’s fair share of the costs of this convenient system.

But it’s more than just convenience. Merchants, the ones taking the Visa or MasterCard payment, pay a small fraction for this service and reap most of the benefits, all while assuming none of the risk. American 1 has to cover the costs for fraud, card errors, and serving debit and credit card accounts. All the while, merchants benefit from the increased purchasing power such card systems provide. When you have a Visa account, for example, it’s easier to pay for more and bigger stuff. The merchant gets all that income, and only has to pay a small, single-digit percentage back to card issuers to maintain the system.

If credit unions like American 1 didn’t provide debit and credit cards to our members, imagine what would happen to local businesses. Or online retailers. Now think about all the other credit unions and banks across the nation. We all have to provide debit and credit cards, and providing that system costs money. The only way we can pay for this convenient system is to charge a fair interchange fee.

Now, Congress is looking to change the interchange fee structure, which means American 1 and other card providers could get less income for providing debit and credit cards. If this happens, our debit and credit card system could cost you, the member, more.

If interchange were reduced and could no longer adequately support American 1’s card system, you, as members, may end up paying more to use your debit and credit cards, or we may no longer be able to offer cards at all. Members of Congress should oppose merchants’ proposals to reduce interchange.

So we’re fighting back with a petition. You can stop in to our Home Office or Argyle Branch locations this week to sign the petition telling Michigan’s senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, that we don’t want them messing with interchange income. Use those links to e-mail your senator, and your local Congressional representative, and tell them we don’t want any reduction in interchange income.

American 1’s response to the Heartland data breach

[Update: After careful consideration and account monitoring, we have decided that, for now, a mass reissue of the compromised cards is not necessary. We compare any claims of fraud against the compromised card list on a daily basis and will continue to do so. There has been no increased fraud claims since this compromise came to light. If you would like to know if your card number is on the compromised list, please give us a call or e-mail and we will be happy to check for you. If your card is on the list, and you would like to have your card replaced, we will do so for you.]

The Jackson Citizen Patriot posted an article about two local credit unions that were affected by the data breach, and we’ve had many members ask us if American 1 has been affected.

First, some background: Heartland Payment Systems, a company that helps businesses process debit and credit card transactions, was hit by malicious hackers. The hack put millions of credit card customers at risk in what may be the biggest data breach ever.

Heartland handles data from credit card merchants. So say you pay for a fill-up at a gas station with your American 1 Visa. That data gets sent to Heartland, who parses the info for Visa, and sends the payment back to the gas station. In effect, this data breach isn’t the fault of you, the gas station, or even Visa. It goes back to Heartland. And because it stems from a processor, and Heartland deals with upwards of 200,000 merchants (like gas stations), the breach may affect lots of people.

Heartland has taken responsibility for the breach, and offers tips to consumers who may be affected. Robert Carr, Heatland’s chairman/CEO, puts it this way:

As a cardholder, you will not be held financially responsible for any unauthorized transactions that are timely reported to your card issuer. You should regularly monitor your card and bank statements and report all suspicious activity to your card issuer (in the case of Visa and MasterCard cardholders, that would be the bank that issued the card, not the card brand).

Heartland says they’ve closed the security hole, but they still haven’t reported how many people may be affected.

Here at American 1, we are monitoring our members’ accounts closely to safeguard against any fraudulent activity. We won’t block anyone’s cards, meaning you can continue to use your American 1 Visa and debit cards as normal, and – if something does happen – you are not liable for any fradulent charges.

If we do find something suspicious, we will contact you directly. American 1 has dedicated employees that handle all our card transactions. If you have a problem with your American 1 Visa or MasterCard debit card, you will talk to a real, live person at our branch.

We’ll offer a tip: sign up for home banking to keep a close eye on your accounts. If you do spot something suspicious, please let us know. You can direct your questions to a Member Services Specialist at any branch location.