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Discover late payments, defaults fall in March

Discover Card customers improved their payment habits in March, as late payments and defaults both fell to their lowest rate in more than two years. Get the full story »

Americans put credit card bill ahead of mortgage

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Americans are more likely to pay their credit card bills than their mortgages, according to a study from TransUnion LLC. The trend, which began during the Great Recession, reflects the lingering affects of the housing crisis.

Many experts expected the payment behavior to revert by now to the old dynamic of consumers paying their mortgages first, but that has yet to happen, the Chicago-based credit score agency said. Get the full story »

American Express gets into mobile payments

American Express is diving into the e-wallet space with Serve, a service that lets customers transfer money to others online and make payments with their mobile phones.

In its announcement Monday, AmEx said Serve is aimed at customers who use cash, checks and debit cards, rather than the company’s traditional credit card users. Get the full story »

Discover returns to profit, raises dividend

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Discover Financial Services reported a $465 million quarterly profit on Tuesday and raised its quarterly dividend by 4 cents per share, as losses on bad loans fell.

The credit card lender and processing network earned 84 cents per share in its fiscal first quarter, ended February 28. That compared with a year-ago loss of $104 million, or 22 cents per share. Get the full story »

Visa plans program to rival PayPal

Visa put out a news release Wednesday morning muddled with the usual financial jibberish: “Visa Moves Beyond the Point-of-Sale,” the headline read. But what Visa is proposing is a potential serious rival for PayPal.

Visa said it will soon allow people to send money to each other using Visa credit or debit cards or pre-paid accounts. So next time you need to pay the babysitter, the checkbook can stay in your wallet. Get the full story »

U.S. families cut debt to lowest level in 6 years

U.S. families — by defaulting on their loans and scrimping on expenses — shouldered a smaller debt burden in 2010 than at any point in the previous six years, putting them in position to start spending more.

Total U.S. household debt, including mortgages and credit cards, fell for the second straight year in 2010 to $13.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. That came to 116 percent of disposable income, down from a peak debt burden of 130 percent in 2007, and the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2004. Get the full story »

Debit card battle heats up as fee limits criticized

(Digital Railroad photo illustration)

The regulator of large U.S. banks said a Federal Reserve proposal to crack down on the fees banks charge retailers when debit cards are used goes too far and could hurt banks over the long run.

John Walsh, acting head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, wrote to the Fed on March 4, expressing his concerns over the rule.

“We believe the proposal takes an unnecessarily narrow approach to recovery of costs that would be allowable under the law and that are recognized and indisputably part of conducting a debit card business,” he wrote. “This has long-term safety and soundness consequences — for banks of all sizes — that are not compelled by the statute.” Get the full story »

Some Bank of America credit cards get rate cuts

More than a million Bank of America credit card customers are being notified that they’ve received a reduction in their interest rates, thanks to a provision in the new credit card law. Get the full story »

Czar amazed by threats to nascent consumer agency

Elizabeth Warren, the point person creating an agency to protect consumers of financial products, said she was surprised there are  efforts afoot in Congress to kill or disable the agency before it’s born.

Warren, in Chicago for a speech at Northwestern University, told the Tribune in an interview Thursday that it’s crucial the agency is created and that its funding remain independent from the political process. She also held an olive branch to community banks and credit unions wary of more regulation. Get the full story »

Fewer credit card rate hikes, late fees

Credit card holders are facing fewer interest rate hikes and forking over sharply less in late fees.

A year after new regulations curbed a spate of questionable billing practices, federal officials say over-the-limit penalty charges have also been dramatically curtailed. The findings come from the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will assume responsibility for administering the regulations once it’s officially up and running this summer. Get the full story »

Study: New credit card rules not hurting borrowers

(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

A private lending watchdog group said on Wednesday that sweeping rule changes imposed on credit card issuers last year by the U.S. Congress had increased transparency for borrowers without restricting the availability of credit.

When the law, known as the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, went into full effect last February, financial companies warned it would make it harder for consumers to get credit cards and more expensive for those who did. Get the full story »

Discover card defaults, late payments drop in Jan.

Discover Card customers started off the year doing better at paying their bill.

Discover Financial Services said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it wrote off $90.3 million, or 5.75 percent of balances at an annualized rate, as uncollectible in January. That was down from $95.2 million, or 5.94 percent annualized, in December. Get the full story »

Chicago consumer credit default rates decline

Consumer credit default rates dropped in Chicago in January on a monthly and year-over-year basis, according to data released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s and Experian.

The two firms track default rates across lines of consumer credit such as first and second mortgages, bank cards and auto loans. Chicago is one of five major cities that the S&P/Experian index breaks out separately. In Chicago, the January default rate was 2.74 percent, a decline of 42 percent from January 2010 and down 12 percent from December 2010. Get the full story »

Fed to face Congress on debit fee crackdown

The Federal Reserve may give U.S. banks insight into whether it will scale back its proposed crackdown on debit card processing fees, when a top official testifies before a congressional panel next week. Get the full story »

Discover signs deal with Puerto Rican bank

Riverwoods-based Discover Financial Services said Monday it has reached a deal with Puerto Rico’s largest commercial bank to expand acceptance of the company’s Discover card in that territory. Get the full story »