It’s Now Easier To Get A Credit Card; Consumer Borrowing Is Soaring

Banks Are Making It Easier to Get Credit Cards

Lenders are again welcoming borrowers with less-than-pristine credit, a vote of confidence in the health of the U.S. economy and Americans’ finances. An estimated 29.2 million general-purpose credit cards were issued to people with credit scores of 660 and below last year, according to TransUnion, up from 20.4 million in 2020 and 26.3 million in 2019. That is generally the threshold where lenders view consumers as having fair, rather than good, credit. Even subprime borrowers, a group shunned during the pandemic, are finding it easier to get credit. [The Wall Street Journal]

Banks have loosened the credit standards and are now marketing cards to consumers with … [+] less-than-stellar credit scores

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U.S. November Consumer Borrowing Marked Largest Gain in 20 Years

U.S. consumer credit soared by $40 billion in November, more than double expectations and compared with a $16 billion gain in October, according to Federal Reserve data released Friday. That translated into an 11% annual gain, the largest move in a single month in 20 years. Revolving credit, such as credit cards, rose at a 23.4% rate after a 7.8% gain in October. That’s the highest rate since April 1998. Total revolving credit is still below its pre-Covid peak. The jump may reflect households using credit more freely. [MarketWatch]

Credit Bureaus Now in the Crosshairs of the CFPB

The “Big Three” credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—have seen a significant rise in the number of complaints lodged against them with the CFPB. The CFPB reported that in 2020, more than 50% of complaints received involved credit reporting, and that percentage increased to 60% in 2021. The most common complaint is that credit bureaus are making heavy use of “template responses” to close complaints. This has enabled the credit bureaus to reduce their average processing time while fewer consumers are receiving tailored answers to their specific problems. [JD Supra]

Cryptocurrency is Suddenly Everywhere Except in the Cash Register

Nearly 30,000 bitcoin ATMs now dot the American landscape in gas stations, liquor stores and hair salons, up from 1,800 four years ago. About half of Coinstar’s 17,000 kiosks, which convert coins into cash, now sell bitcoin. And consumers have a growing array of options for buying, selling and transmitting the digital currency, including popular payment apps such as Venmo and Cash App. But for all the hype, there’s scant evidence that digital currencies stand on the threshold of some kind of mainstream breakthrough. While a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 16 percent of Americans have used cryptocurrency in some way, most buy it as a speculative investment, not for its originally intended purpose: as a way to pay for goods and services. [The Washington Post]

No More Fees for Bounced Checks at This Bank

Fees for bounced checks or lacking enough money in your account could soon be a thing of the past. Bank of America is the latest major financial institution to announce that it is ending fees for insufficient funds. It also plans to cut overdraft fees from $35 to $10. The end of the bounced check fee goes into effect next month. The overdraft fee reduction will begin in May. [CNN]

Consumers Say Cash Back is King

Points and miles may take you to exotic destinations, but a new Bankrate survey found American credit card holders tend to value a more practical prize: cash back rewards. The survey found more than 4 in 10 (41%) U.S. adults listed cash back as their favorite credit card feature. The next-most-desired features didn’t even come close to the overwhelming popularity of cash back rewards. Cash back was three times as popular as the next favorite feature, wide acceptance. [Bankrate]

Venmo, PayPal and Zelle Must Report $600+ in Transactions to IRS

As of Jan. 1, mobile payment apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle and Cash App are required to report commercial transactions totaling more than $600 per year to the Internal Revenue Service. The change to the tax code was signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Covid-19 response bill passed in March. Previously, these mobile payment apps only had to tell the tax authorities when a person had over 200 commercial transactions per year that exceeded $20,000 in total value, the IRS said. The tax-reporting change only applies to charges for commercial goods or services, not personal charges to friends and family, like splitting a dinner bill. [NBC News]

Internet’s Biggest Marketplace for Stolen Credit Cards Will Shut Down

UniCC, the largest online marketplace for stolen credit and debit cards, announced it will close next week after facilitating $358 million in transactions over nine years, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic reported Wednesday, the latest in a wave of illicit dark web marketplace closures. Credit card information can be stolen through phishing or other scams, or by hacking bank and retail databases. The cards can then be sold or used to launder money obtained through other forms of online crime. UniCC’s shuttering is the latest in a series of closures on the dark web, a part of the internet that can only be accessed with special authorization or with special software and that is known for hosting illegal activity. Elliptic speculated that UniCC’s sudden closure could have been motivated by a desire to avoid increased law enforcement scrutiny after the shuttering of similar illicit online marketplaces. [Forbes]

National Use Your Gift Card Day Approaches

The third annual National Use Your Gift Card Day is coming up on Saturday, January 15, reminding consumers to go out and spend unused gift cards. The day aims to stop the loss of billions of dollars in forgotten gift cards, which amounts to $15.3 billion according to Bankrate.com. According to a Pitney Bowes BOXpoll survey, most consumers who receive a gift card (58%) plan to spend it either within days or a few weeks after the holiday, and nearly one in three (30%) consumers spend gift cards months after the holidays. [Bake]

All You Need to Know about Crypto Credit Cards vs. Bank Credit Cards

Cryptocurrency is currently the most lucrative asset of investors across the world. Crypto investors are now leaning towards crypto credit cards or cryptocurrency credit cards to make transactions more efficiently at any time at any place. There are some differences between a cryptocurrency credit card and a traditional bank credit card. Yes, the main difference is the digital currency and cryptocurrency. But, two main similarities are that both credit cards of crypto investors help to purchase coins or assets instantly with some bonus rewards or benefits and failure in payment within a due date can put high interest and late fees. [Analytics Insight]

No Jab, No Job: Citigroup to Fire Unvaccinated Staff This Month

Citigroup staff in the United States who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 by Jan. 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and fired at the end of the month unless they are granted an exemption, according to a company memo seen by Reuters. The bank announced its plan to impose new vaccination rules in October and now becomes the first major Wall Street institution to follow through with a strict vaccine mandate. Other major Wall Street banks, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, have told some unvaccinated employees to work from home, but none has yet gone as far as sacking staff. [Reuters]