Posts Tagged 'wall street journal'

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.

WSJ: Banks roll out new fees

The Wall Street Journal reports that banks are finding inventive and creative ways to charge their customers more fees:

Credit-card companies already have been racing to slip new fees and practices into customer contracts ahead of the [Credit CARD Act]. Issuers are closing accounts, switching cards with fixed interest rates to variable rates and introducing cards that have an annual fee…The changes come against a backdrop of rising anger at the nation’s banks—having been largely supported by hundreds of billions of public bailout dollars in late 2008 and 2009.

This is mostly a result of the Credit CARD Act, passed and signed earlier this summer, which puts limits on bank credit card policies and puts a $50 billion hole in banks’ revenue.

Banks will attempt to fill that hole by charging new fees, or resurrecting long-neglected fees. So beware.

Credit union bailout? Not so fast.

Two recent articles – one at the Washington Post and another at the Wall Street Journal – leave the impression that credit unions are receiving a bailout from the government, like banks and insurance companies.

But things aren’t always as they seem, and credit unions are not receiving a bailout. In fact, credit unions are doing much better than banks.

The two stories focus on an institution that services credit unions, U.S. Central Corporate Federal Credit Union, an institution that handles financing and transactions for a big group of credit unions. U.S. Central doesn’t service members, like you or your neighbor. It services other credit unions. Think of it as a credit union for credit unions.

But the way the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post make it sound (with headlines like “U.S. Aid Goes to Credit Unions”), the entire CU industry is in need of a handout. And that’s just not true.

What happened was U.S. Central took a group of credit unions’ money and invested it those mortgage-backed securities we keep hearing about. When those investments went sour, U.S. Central asked for a $1 billion loan (not bailout) from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) – the same government agency that insures your deposits at American 1. This isn’t Congress handing money to a financial institution that made bad decisions – as has happened a lot since September. Instead, it’s credit unions stepping in and helping out one of their own institutions.

Does this affect you or your membership at American 1? Not at all. American 1 is doing well financially. In fact, we trust our deposits with the Federal Reserve because of its reliability.

While newspapers seek to build up interest in stories by writing provacative headlines, the WSJ and Post went a bit too far with their misleading headlines.


Wall Street Journal: CUs are the best way to bank

It’s something we’ve known all along, right? But Brett Arends, writer for the Wall Street Journal’s “R.O.I” column (that’s “return on investment”) says that with all the trouble banks are having these days, credit unions are a sleeper hit:

These not-for-profit co-operatives have a kind of sleepy, backwater image. They’re often seen as the local libraries of banking. But that’s too bad. The chances are they didn’t pay their chief executive $10 million while writing off billions in subprime loans. And they can offer you some surprisingly good deals.

Arends says many creidt unions, like American 1, offer the same services banks do – often with better rates.

And since credit unions “don’t have to pay for billions in losses on subprime mortgages and other bad loans,” they can pass the benefits right on to members.

Read the rest of Arend’s column, “For Better Banking, Check Out a Credit Union,” at WSJ.com.


American 1 Federal Credit Union