New way to earn a Southwest Companion Pass; Amazon, Visa Scope Agreement

Chase is offering a companion pass plus 30,000 points for new Southwest cardholders

Chase has announced a new sign-up bonus for its Southwest co-branded credit cards. New cardholders can earn the Southwest Companion Pass and 30,000 bonus points if they open a new Southwest credit card and spend $5,000 or more on purchases within the first three months of account opening. The promotional offer ends March 14 and the companion pass is valid until February 28, 2023, regardless of when you open the account and meet the spending requirements. Offer is available on Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier and Priority cards. Offer not available on Chase co-branded Southwest commercial credit cards. [Investopedia]

Amazon reaches agreement with Visa on payment fees

Amazon has agreed to accept Visa cards on its global network, settling a dispute that threatened to hurt the financial giant’s business and disrupt e-commerce payments. The deal resolves a dispute that at one point prompted Amazon to consider a ban on UK-issued Visa credit cards. The retailer said it will no longer charge additional fees to customers who use Visa cards on its site in Singapore and Australia, and it will not disable Amazon’s Visa credit cards in the UK. Amazon had considered moving its popular co-branded credit card to Mastercard. The Amazon card is one of the biggest co-branded wallets in the industry, and the company used the talks to renew the deal to get better terms from Visa, according to people familiar with the matter. [Bloomberg]

Beware of these hidden risks in popular Buy Now, Pay Later plans

Many consumers do not realize that BNPL plans are a form of credit or loan. Instead, people describe them as a ‘way to pay’ or a ‘money management tool’, and a quarter of users incorrectly said The Motley Fool BNPL plans aren’t debt . Since these services are relatively new and each BNPL provider has their own terms and repayment schedule, consumers can get confused. Nearly a third of users told LendingTree that they didn’t know what the interest rate and fees would be until they financed a purchase with one of the services. The simplicity of the application and approval process makes it easy for consumers to go over their heads. Since many services don’t check your credit report, there are few guarantees about whether you can really afford to repay the loan, given the other bills and debts you have to pay. [Newsweek]

How credit cards are getting on the electric vehicle spending trend

Electric vehicles have a long way to go before they are as ubiquitous as their gas-powered counterparts. Electric vehicles accounted for just 2% of new car sales in the United States in 2020. But things could be very different in a few years. And if credit card companies want to get in on the ground floor of a spending trend, they need to act before there’s an EV in every aisle. Among major issuers, US Bank has already dipped its toes, announcing in January 2022 that its cards that earn bonus rewards on gas purchases will also earn that same rate on purchases at electric vehicle charging stations. Bonus rewards for electric vehicle charging became technically possible a few years ago when payment networks Visa and Mastercard added electric vehicle charging as a separate Merchant Category Code or MCC. Since credit card issuers use MCCs to decide which purchases are eligible for extra points, this paved the way for electric vehicle charging as its own bonus category. [Nerd Wallet]

Google to revise ad tracking on Android phones used by billions

Google has announced that it will begin the process of removing longstanding ad trackers from its Android operating system, disrupting how advertising and data collection works on phones and tablets used by more than 2.5 billion people in the world. Currently, Google assigns special identifiers to each Android device, allowing advertisers to build profiles of what people do on their phones and serve them highly targeted ads. Google will begin testing alternatives to these identifiers this year and eventually phase them out altogether. Google said the changes will improve privacy for Android users, limiting the massive amounts of data app developers collect from people using the platform. [The Washington Post]

Household debt increased by $1 trillion in 2021, most since before the Great Recession

Household debt rose by more than $1 trillion last year, driven by rising car and house prices, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is the largest annual increase in debt since before the Great Recession of 2008. Notably, credit card debt soared by $52 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, the largest quarterly increase in 22 years since the New York Fed began collecting this data. . Outstanding mortgage debt increased by $258 billion during this period, and auto loan balances increased by $15 billion. [Fox Business]

Apple could position itself to offer crypto payments via iPhone

Apple has announced that it will offer its new service, Tap to Pay for iPhones, later this year. The new feature will allow businesses and merchants to use iPhone as a point-of-sale option through contactless payments. The new service will use near-field communication technology and will now include its Apple Pay signature as well as contactless credit and/or debit cards and other digital wallets. Unless specifically excluded, this could mean that crypto users with Coinbase cards, Crypto.com visas, etc. could link their cards and therefore cryptocurrencies to pay via the Tap to Pay service. [Nasdaq]

E-commerce buyers are going mobile

U.S. retail e-commerce sales will top $1 trillion for the first time this year as the flexibility and convenience customers have found during the pandemic continues. Average spending per digital buyer will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.6% between 2022 and 2025 to nearly $7,000. While e-commerce volume will continue to grow across all channels, it will do so at uneven rates. Growth in desktop and laptop retail e-commerce will slow as the segment bleeds. Instead, customers will shop more on mobile, which will exceed $4 in 10 of retail e-commerce for the first time this year. The increase in time spent on mobile will affect purchases. The biggest beneficiary will be smartphones, which will account for 85.0% of mcommerce sales this year. [eMarketer]

NASCAR launches co-branded American Express card

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has launched a new credit card as part of an expanded partnership with Credit One Bank, as the 2022 racing season kicks off. The collaboration formed the Credit One Bank NASCAR American Express Card, while designating American Express as the new payment network for the co-branded card. The company has been an official partner and issuer of co-branded credit cards for NASCAR since 2016, while American Express joins the organization’s official credit card payment network this season. [Insider Sport]

CFPB issues warning over use of prepaid cards to pay for government benefits

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warned financial services companies about the long-standing ban on using prepaid debit cards as the sole method of delivering government benefits. Companies that are hired by government agencies to distribute payments to consumers may levy illegal fees that would be considered an abuse of their exclusive contracts. The CFPB described how recipients of certain state and federal benefit programs are entitled to protections and disclosures under Regulation E, which implements the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. [American Banker]

Mastercard bets big on crypto and hires 500 people

Mastercard said it is expanding its payments-focused advisory service with new practices dedicated to crypto. The new practices will focus on areas such as crypto and digital currencies, and environment, social and governance, or ESG. Mastercard said it has partnered with digital native companies that offer solutions in cryptocurrencies and has helped fintechs expand into new markets. Mastercard plans to expand its teams and will hire 500 people, university graduates and young workers. This large wave of recruitment will bring the division’s workforce to 2,500 people, mainly data scientists, engineers and consultants. [The Street]

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