San Antonians know how to charge it with nation’s highest average credit card debt

By Lynn Brezosky Updated 3:01 pm, Wednesday, February 7, 2018 Photo: Dreamstime /TNS Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 San Antonians hold the nation’s highest credit card debt burdens, study found. San Antonians hold the nation’s highest credit card debt burdens, study found. Photo: Dreamstime /TNS San Antonians know how to charge it with nation’s highest average credit card debt 1 / 1 Back to Gallery The city of Fiesta, breakfast tacos and the rodeo now has a distinction that may dampen the party: credit card debt. A report released Wednesday by found that San Antonians carry the highest credit card burden of any of the nation’s 25 largest cities. On average, city residents carry an average of $7,070 in credit card debt. Even if those credit cardholders were to cut their cards today and add no additional charges, it would take 20 years of minimum payments to clear that debt. It would also cost a whopping $6,862 in interest. The debt burden was calculated by weighting average debt against average income. So while San Antonio ranks fifth-highest in the average amount of credit card debt, it has the fourth-lowest median income. While it may mean sticking to a budget, devoting’s recommended minimum of 15 percent of gross monthly income toward credit card debt could wipe out that burden in 22 months while saving nearly $6,000 in interest. “Getting out of debt isn’t easy, but it can be done with willpower and determination,” said Matt Schulz,’s senior industry analyst. Business Channel Now Playing: Now Playing The Tech You Own Could Turn On (or Turn Off) Your Love Life Buzz 60 Foxconn Picks Milwaukee For US Headquarters Associated Press Continue Reading

Will your store credit card survive retail apocalypse?

Stroll your local mall and you may spot some empty storefronts where mannequins once stood draped in the latest fashions — possible casualties of what some have dubbed the “retail apocalypse.”Not everyone agrees it’s all doom and gloom for brick-and-mortar stores, but challenges certainly exist. Major retailers have announced plans to close thousands of locations in the U.S., and the final tally for 2017 could number around 9,500 stores, according to projections from Fung Global Retail & Technology, an industry think tank.But just because a store turns out its lights doesn’t mean the end is also nigh for your store credit card. Its fate depends on the retailer’s business plans and decisions made by the bank that issues the card. The better you understand the process, the better you can manage your credit and keep it in good standing:The impact of a retail closure on store credit cards may vary by situation and issuer, according to David Boone, head of U.S. partnerships at TD Bank. TD Retail Card Services issues private-label credit cards, which can be used only at a particular store, as well as co-branded credit cards, which have a Visa or MasterCard logo and are widely accepted.When a store closes, any of the following may happen regarding your store credit card:■You have to shop online to use the card. If a store moves sales online, you can continue using your private-label store credit card on its website and making your payments online, or by phone or mail. Of course, this also means you may incur shipping costs. If your card is co-branded, it should still be accepted by most merchants.■The card issuer offers you a new credit card. When a retailer goes out of business entirely, the rewards program eventually goes with it. “Most issuers will attempt to find a replacement product or reward value proposition for the customer,” Boone says.■The issuer closes your card. You store card may be Continue Reading

The chips are down: New credit cards with computer chips are slow to catch on

By now, your bank has probably sent you one of the new credit cards with a computer chip in it. But have you tried to use it, by dipping the new card instead of swiping? Good luck with that: Not many stores take it. Unfortunately, that's today's typical American credit card: All dressed up, with only a few places to go. THE LATEST ID THEFT SCAM THAT CAN DAMAGE YOUR CREDIT SCORE Most of us now have at least one card with a chip in it, according to our research. In March, we surveyed 932 credit card holders in a scientific poll, and about seven in 10 had at least one chip card. That's a big turnaround from six months ago, when we did a similar survey. Then, just 14% of cardholders had a chip card. When you dip one into a chip-reading terminal, the chip generates a one-time number used for a single transaction. That makes them safer than the magnetic stripe cards that, using the same technology as a 1962 reel-to-reel tape recorder, use the same authorization code over and over. The chip cards' shifting authorization number makes it harder to use the card fraudulently. Trouble is, we're having trouble finding places to use them at all. The pace of banks issuing the chip cards is way ahead of the pace of merchants accepting them. Statistics on how many merchants take chip cards vary, and it's an always-moving target, but only about one-fourth of merchants are actually processing payments with them. In our reporting the story that went with our survey, we ran across lots of retailers with equipment installed, but not working. Some even had their slots taped over or deliberately jammed. Why are retailers so slow to complete the loop and put the chip terminals into operation? It helps to understand the history. Retailers and banks haven't been very chummy lately. They clashed ferociously over how much retailers should pay in "swipe fees" that merchants pay banks for every card transaction. Retailers came out ahead in the battle Continue Reading

Target sees profit fall months after credit card hack, struggles to win back customers

It’s once more into the breach for Target. The company said Wednesday it had yet to put its huge, holiday season hacking incident behind it as store traffic fell for a second quarter in a row following the security breach that exposed payment card information of millions of Target shoppers. The third-largest retailer in the U.S. has slashed its full-year earnings forecast while it tries to lure back skittish customers with more discounts. Total sales in its most recent quarter rose 1.7% to $17.4 billion, but net profit fell 62% to $234 million, said Target, which also reported breach-related net expenses of about $110 million. “It’s going to take a long time to win back customers’ trust,” Burt Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a consumer industry consulting firm, told the Daily News. There are signs of improvement. While customer traffic fell 1.3% in the second quarter, it was a marked improvement over the 2.3% drop in the first quarter. Target had shed 5% of its clientele immediately after the breach was discovered. “A vast majority of guests have come back to us,” Target CFO John Mulligan said on a conference call Wednesday with investors. “Trust and confidence is returning to Target.” With new CEO Brian Cornell at the helm, the company has ramped up security of its payment system and invested millions in an upcoming implementation of chip-based credit card technology in its nearly 1,800 stores. Target shares rose nearly 2% to $60.33 Wednesday. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Italy demands American Express stop issuing new credit cards until it can improve compliance

Italy's central bank on Thursday ordered a stop to the issuance of new credit cards by American Express in the country until the company can improve compliance with laws combatting money laundering and usury.Diners Club' card issuance in Italy last year.Joanna Lambert said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.American Express Italy is currently implementing an upgrade of its information technology systems and other procedures, in order to adhere more closely to the regulations applicable to payments service providers and financial intermediaries," she said. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Infinity pool, Art Deco luxury?! Accused credit card hacker lives large in Miami

Nestled near a row of sultry, silvery-green palm trees and a 205-foot-long infinity pool, room 1508 at the National Hotel on South Beach is a portrait of Art Deco luxury. It is also where, on May 7, 2008, federal agents seized two computers, $22,000 in cash and a Glock 9 gun from a man known on the Internet as "soupnazi."His real name is Albert Gonzalez, and he was with his girlfriend when federal agents arrived. Just as the setting was not run-of-the-mill, neither was the arrest. Gonzalez was charged with hacking into business computer networks and stealing credit and debit card accounts - and in an embarrassing twist, he had once been an informant for the U.S. Secret Service.This week, Gonzalez, 28, was indicted in New Jersey on more federal charges. Now the biggest credit card hacks of the decade - totaling 170 million accounts - have been pinned on Gonzalez.Industry analysts marveled at the scope of the operation - which Gonzalez allegedly dubbed "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." One compared it to a hackers' version of the 1980s gangster movie "Scarface.""Albert Gonzalez is definitely the Tony Montana of credit card theft," said Sean Arries, a computer security expert at the Miami-based Internet technology company Terremark.Gonzalez has been in custody since his 2008 arrest in Miami Beach. He awaits federal trials in New York and Massachusetts, along with the New Jersey charges. If convicted he faces life in prison.Gonzalez's lawyer, Rene Palomino Jr., wouldn't address the charges in detail, saying that the case is in a "very delicate stage" and that Gonzalez is trying to resolve it. The attorney said Gonzalez and federal prosecutors were close to reaching a plea deal in the New York and Massachusetts cases this week, before the New Jersey indictment was added.People who know Gonzalez say he is a nerdy, shy man who got mixed up in a shadowy world."Albert is not a mean-spirited individual, he desires no physical harm on anybody and he wouldn't hurt a fly," said Continue Reading

Judge: NYC can make cabbies get GPS, credit card machines

A federal judge yesterday refused to stop the city from requiring all yellow cabs to be equipped with Global Positioning Systems and credit card machines. Citing privacy concerns, a taxi drivers union had filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary order delaying the new city rules. But U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled yesterday that the use of the technology to improve taxi service appeared to outweigh drivers' privacy rights. The GPS technology and software that records where cabs are every eight seconds, as well as equipment to accept credit cards, must be installed by each taxi's first regular inspection after Monday. Since inspections are staggered throughout the calendar, all 13,000 yellow cabs are expected to be outfitted with the new technology by the end of the year. "This is a satisfying legal victory - and a legal victory for all taxi passengers who will enjoy the benefits of these service improvements," the city's top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said. The Taxi Workers Alliance, the drivers' union that staged a two-day strike earlier this month and then sued over new technology mandates, vowed not to give up its fight. TWA leaders will decide in the coming days whether to stage another strike to protest the technology mandates. "That's absolutely a possibility," TWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said at a press conference. Though Berman rejected the group's request for a temporary order suspending the city mandates, he is allowing the TWA's suit to proceed. "We may be a bit disappointed, but we are by no means disheartened," Desai noted. "This is just the beginning." The TWA lawsuit claims that ordering cabs to have GPS equipment violates drivers' constitutional protections against government intrusion. Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus said GPS will make it easier for the city to help riders retrieve property left behind in cabs. He also said drivers will make more money if passengers can pay with credit Continue Reading

Credit card machines, GPS in cabs work just fine, says city

Cabbies may complain about the high-tech gizmos going into their taxis, but city officials say the credit-card machines and GPS devices can hack it. Thousands of cabbies went on strike for two days last month to protest a city rule requiring that all 13,000 cabs get the equipment by year's end, and among their gripes was that the technology was faulty. But the new features worked properly 99.21% of the time during a series of checks by the Taxi and Limousine Commission staff last month, the agency said yesterday. The lowest individual grade was 96%, according to the TLC. "The monitoring process we have in place will ensure that the Taxicab Passenger Enhancement Program does everything it was designed to do and that taxi riders get to enjoy the most that these amazing systems have to offer," TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus said. Installations are taking place in waves, and the TLC scrutinized the equipment in more than 2,300 cabs last month. The Taxi Workers Alliance, the group that called the two-day strike last month, has blasted the Global Positioning System as overly intrusive tracking by Big Brother. And they cited technological problems, including credit-card transactions not going through, that have resulted in drivers not getting paid. Taxi Workers Alliance head Bhairavi Desai called the TLC statistics "nonsense," saying the agency did not seek input from drivers who use the systems for up to 12 hours a day. Instead, she said, the vast majority of inspections were simply brief checks of the equipment, a less accurate assessment. "It's just a whitewash," Desai said. The drivers' group has called another strike for Oct. 22 and is urging members to park their cabs and attend a noon rally outside TLC headquarters. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Bloomberg: Cabs will have GPS, credit card machines

Strike or no strike, the city isn't backing off its mandate that cabs have GPS tracking and equipment for payment by credit cards, Mayor Bloomberg vowed on Friday."The deal is not changing," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program.Bloomberg contends the city raised fares in 2004 as part of a package that included the technology mandates. Fares were increased again last year.The Taxi Workers Alliance, the drivers group calling a strike and demonstration Monday, contends the "deal" was one-sided; drivers, who don't have an official union, never approved of new tech requirements.The city's contingency plan includes carving the city into eight zones and charging $10 per person for travel within a zone and $5 for each additional zone. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Starbucks has a co-branded Visa credit card brewing

Visa is everywhere you want to be — including StarbucksThe Seattle-based coffee chain is planning to launch a co-branded Visa card this winter, CEO Kevin Johnson said Thursday during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call.The Chase Visa credit card will enable customers to receive Starbucks Rewards with purchases they make both in and out of the chain's stores. Johnson said the move was connected to the company's "continued investment in our loyalty and technology platforms." More: Starbucks sells Tazo tea brand to Univeler, focuses on Teavana instead More: Uber's new credit card: Here are the perks worth noting "It gets their name out there. It's very much a marketing ploy," said Robert Harrow, a credit card analyst with the consumer research website ValuePenguin. "It's the same reason why Macy's or Best Buy (has credit cards). It locks you in. It gets people coming back."Starbucks declined to discuss more details. Visa could not immediately be reached for comment.Starbucks also has a prepaid Visa card coming, the company said.Twenty-eight percent of Americans carry credit card debt, according to a new survey by Out of those people who don't pay their entire bill every month, 43% have carried a balance for two years or longer and 23% for five years or longer. Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer Continue Reading