Archive for 'Debit card'

No Fee Debit Cards are Out There

No Fee Debit Cards are Out There

No Fee Debit Cards are Out There-Image via Wikipedia

Despite recently announced new fees from some other banks, First Financial Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIN) today announced its commitment to keeping debit cards free of monthly charges.

Debit cards are extremely popular with our customers and with merchants, and we have no plans to start charging a monthly fee for use of these cards,” said F. Scott Dueser, Chairman, President and CEO.  “Free debit cards are just part of a highly competitive package of banking services we offer our customers, including free online banking, free online bill payment and the choice of a free personal checking account.”

About First Financial Bankshares

Headquartered in Abilene, Texas, First Financial Bankshares is a financial holding company that operates 11 separately chartered banks with 53 locations in Texas, stretching from Hereford in the Panhandle to Huntsville, north of Houston.  The Company also operates First Financial Trust & Asset Management Company, N.A., with seven locations and First Technology Services, Inc., a technology operating company.  With more than a century of tradition, First Financial Bankshares is nationally recognized as a top-performing and financially secure banking company providing superior products, excellent service and personal attention.

The Company is listed on The NASDAQ Global Select Market under the trading symbol FFIN.  For more information about First Financial Bankshares, please visit our website at http://www.ffin.com and follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/First_Financial.

Certain statements contained herein may be considered “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements are based upon the belief of the Company’s management, as well as assumptions made beyond information currently available to the Company’s management, and may be, but not necessarily are, identified by such words as “expect”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “target”, “forecast” and “goal”.  Because such “forward-looking statements” are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s expectations include competition from other financial institutions and financial holding companies; the effects of and changes in trade, monetary and fiscal policies and laws, including interest rate policies of the  Federal Reserve Board; changes in the demand for loans; fluctuations in value of collateral and loan reserves; inflation, interest rate, market and monetary fluctuations; changes in consumer spending, borrowing and savings habits; and acquisitions and integration of acquired businesses, and similar variables.  Other key risks are described in the Company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which may be obtained under “Investor Relations-Documents/Filings” on the Company’s Web site or by writing or calling the Company at 325.627.7155.  Except as otherwise stated in this news announcement, the Company does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements because of new information, future events or otherwise.

CONTACT: F. Scott Dueser, Chairman, President & CEO of First Financial Bankshares, Inc., +1-325-627-7155

Web Site: http://www.ffin.com

Amscot Financial, a leading provider of convenient, consumer-oriented financial services, has surpassed a major milestone with the opening of its 175th branch in Ocala.

Founded in 1989, Amscot Financial has grown into a dominant provider of financial services across Central Florida, covering now 16 counties lying roughly along the Interstate 4 corridor. Amscot Financial serves more than 2 million customers per month and will conduct this year more than $7 billion worth of financial transactions.

The new branch in Ocala is located at 2594 Southwest College Road. Like most Amscot branches, it is located at a high-traffic intersection, convenient to a multitude of other business locations in Ocala. Also like other Amscot branches, the Ocala location will be open seven days a week, 365 days year. The hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays. On Fridays, the store remains open until 10 p.m. On Sundays, the hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have found that our customers value convenience,” said Amscot founder Ian MacKechnie. “They want to be able to conduct their financial transactions quickly and at times and places convenient to them.”

Amscot’s new Ocala branch initially will create about 10 jobs, MacKechnie said. Depending on the location’s growth, it could generate as many as 20 total jobs for the Ocala area.

Amscot Financial is The Money Superstore™, offering an array of convenience-oriented financial services, including the cashing of personal checks, out-of-state checks and government checks. The company also offers small cash advances; Western Union wire transfers, notary services, pre-paid debit cards, free money orders and income tax preparation. Amscot Financial also allows customers to make bill payments to more than 200 different utilities, municipal governments, cable and telephone companies.

Amscot Financial employs more than 2,000 associates who work at the company’s 175 retail branches and at the company’s corporate headquarters in Tampa. The company currently operates retail locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, Sarasota, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Volusia, Brevard and Marion counties.

About Amscot Financial

Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., Amscot Financial is a leading provider of income tax preparation and electronic filing services, refund anticipation loans, prepaid debit cards, check cashing services, cash advance services, bill payment services, money transfer services and money orders through its wholly owned division, Amscot International Money Order Company.  Amscot also offers the Amscot Card, a pre-paid debit card that allows owners to make purchases from any location that accepts MasterCard™. Amscot Financial currently operates 175 tax preparation offices and 175 retail financial service centers throughout Florida and employs more than 2,000 people. Amscot Financial has been recognized by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as one of Tampa Bay’s Best Places to Work for four consecutive years. For additional information, please visit the company’s Web site at www.amscot.com.
http://www.amscot.com

Credit Card Fees to Climb Higher

Credit Card Fees to Climb Higher

Credit Card Fees to Climb Higher-Image via Wikipedia

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) criticized a final rule released today by the Federal Reserve as failing to honor the intent of the bipartisan reforms passed by Congress.  The rule, which guides implementation of the debit swipe fee reforms, is a startling departure from rules that the Federal Reserve proposed in December and will ultimately prevent the intended relief from reaching merchants and consumers.

“The announcement today from the Federal Reserve is a disappointment to merchants and consumers who face unfair and excessive fees imposed by big banks and credit card companies,” said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. “The Federal Reserve’s about-face suggests it abandoned the facts that the Board embraced in the December proposed rules, instead ceding to the wishes of the big banks and credit card companies.”

Data released by the Federal Reserve in December showed that, although merchants paid on average 44 cents on every debit transaction, the transaction cost just 4 cents to process.   By comparison, paper checks have been processed without any interchange fee for nearly a century.  In December, the Federal Reserve proposed a cap between 7 and 12 cents for banks with $10 billion in assets, ensuring 200 percent profit for the issuing banks.  Today’s final rule dramatically raises that cap to 21 cents, guaranteeing an astounding 525 percent profit on every transaction.

“The Federal Reserve today has badly damaged its credibility.   The merchant community will explore its options to implement the debit interchange relief that Congress intended,” concluded Kennedy.

RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

http://www.retail-leaders.org

Debit Card Price Caps: No Help From the Senate

Electronic Payments Coalition Promises to Continue Fight to Help Debit Card Holders

Today, by a vote of 54-45, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a compromise version of the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act as an amendment of the Economic Development Revitalization Act (S. 782).  The legislation would have required a study into the unintended consequences that will result from debit interchange price caps mandated by the Durbin Amendment to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank).

“It is stunning that the Senate chose to ignore every major banking regulator who warned that this rule could harm community banks and credit unions – and possibly even result in bank failures at a time when our country can least afford it,” said Trish Wexler, spokesperson for the Electronic Payments Coalition.  “Giant retailers may have protected their $12 billion windfall at the expense of small businesses and debit cardholders across America.  But we will not give up the effort to protect debit card holders from the effects of this ill-conceived legislation.”

The Durbin debit card amendment was added to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill without a single hearing, study, or review of its potential consequences.  It prevented the Federal Reserve from considering these issues and strictly limited its discretion.  As currently proposed the Fed rule ignores whole segments of costs associated with facilitating debit transactions.  Since proposing the rule, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair have both raised serious doubts about the rule; and specifically about the effectiveness of the so-called “carve out” for community banks and credit unions.  Over 11,000 comments were submitted to the Federal Reserve expressing similar concerns, and hundreds of thousands of debit card holders contacted their members of Congress in support of the additional review.

About the Electronic Payments Coalition

The Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) includes credit unions, banks, and payment card networks that move electronic payments quickly and securely between millions of merchants and millions of consumers across the globe. EPC’s goal is to protect the value, innovation, convenience and competition in today’s growing electronic payments system. EPC educates policymakers, consumers and the media on the system’s role in economic growth, and the importance of protecting consumer choice and stability for the continued growth of global commerce.

Business Credit Card Abuse Continues

Business Credit Card Abuse Continues

Business Credit Card Abuse Continues-Image via Wikipedia

Pew Highlights Need to Extend Credit CARD Act Protections

The Credit CARD Act of 2009, signed into law two years ago, made consumer credit cards safer and more transparent. But, its rules did not apply to cards labeled for business or commercial use, placing millions of individuals and small business owners at risk. Practices the Federal Reserve deemed “unfair” or “deceptive,” such as hair trigger interest rates and unpredictable rate increases, remain widespread in business credit cards that are regularly offered to American households, according to a report by the Pew Health Group’s Safe Credit Cards Project.

As noted in the research, 40 years ago business credit cards were excluded from federal consumer protections because policy makers concluded that business owners were in the position to analyze risk. However, Pew found that between January 2006 and December 2010, American households received over 2.6 billion offers in the mail for these financial products. Whether the respondent to these solicitations is a large company, an owner of a small company, an employee or an individual, they are personally liable for all charges and are not protected by the key provisions in the Credit CARD Act.

“Every month more than 10 million business credit card offers are mailed to households at all income levels. The sheer number of offers that are sent to homes all across the nation represents a risk to millions of American families,” said Nick Bourke, director of Pew’s Safe Credit Cards Project. “To better protect individuals, families and small business owners we urge that the safeguards found in the Credit CARD Act be extended to any card on which the cardholder is personally liable.”

CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO OF NICK BOURKE DISCUSSING BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS

The brief, “U.S. Households at Risk from Business Credit Cards ,” is the most recent in a series of Pew Safe Credit Cards Project reports that examine credit card disclosures from the nation’s 12 largest banks. For this report, Pew also looked at consumer-direct mail data from January 2006 through December 2010. Full details, including past reports, can be found at www.pewtrusts.org/creditcards.

Key findings show:

  • Eighty percent of business cards included an “any time” change in terms clause with no right to opt out, which means that bank issuers can change account terms at any time with little or no notice.
  • Eighty-four percent of business cards gave issuers the sole power to apply payments to low-rate balances first, which maximizes charges on higher-rate balances.
  • Sixty-seven percent of business cards included penalty rates for late payments or overlimit transactions. Issuers can apply a penalty interest rate immediately and without notice for any violation and that rate can last indefinitely on any balance. Under the Credit CARD Act, penalty interest rates may not be applied to existing balances on consumer credit cards, unless an account is seriously delinquent.
  • Penalty fees are virtually unrestricted and may not be reasonable and proportional to the violation. Seventy-three percent of business cards included a late fee (median amount $39), while 67 percent included an overlimit fee (median amount $39).

The brief also highlights issuers who have voluntarily applied portions of the Credit CARD Act to their business cards. Bank of America eliminated penalty interest rates, overlimit fees and late fees and both Bank of America and Capital One have adopted application of payments to be applied to the larger balance first.

“The practices of these banks show that additional consumer protections can be applied to all credit cards marketed to American households and that issuers can still receive fair compensation for the service provided,” said Bourke. “Now is the time for policy makers to ensure that the actions of these banks are not the exception, but rather the rule.”

The Pew Safe Credit Cards Project offers policy recommendations to make business cards safer and more transparent for consumers, including:

  • Expanding the consumer protections of the Credit CARD Act to any credit card product that requires an individual to be personally or jointly liable for account expenses, and at a minimum,
  • Requiring issuers to tell applicants whenever a credit card is not covered by the Credit CARD Act. Moreover, account disclosures should warn of additional risks not found in their consumer credit cards.

About the Pew Health Group

The Pew Health Group is the health and consumer-product safety arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. www.pewtrusts.org/creditcards

CONTACT: Nicolle Grayson, +1-202-540-6347, ngrayson@pewtrusts.org

Web Site: http://www.pewtrusts.org

CUSO Representing Over 100 Credit Unions Announces New Private Student Loan Offering without Origination Fee

CU Student Lending, LLC, a credit union service organization (CUSO) that developed and manages the cuStudentLoans private student loan program, today announced the launch of its 2011 EdAccess Private Student Loan that features zero origination fees to the borrower.

The new loan product, which debuted officially on May 1st, will be available to all qualified student borrowers for the 2011-2012 academic year.  The CUSO’s decision to remove the origination fee comes at a time when student borrowers are faced with escalating tuition costs nationwide, creating a widening funding gap in order to finance their education.

“Providing credit union members and their families a private student loan product with zero origination fees, especially during a time with dramatic increases in tuition costs, is something that is extremely important to us,” said Tom O’Shea, Chairman of CU Student Lending, LLC.  “This is just another borrower benefit that makes the cuStudentLoans program, and in particular the EdAccess Private Student Loan, among the best in the industry for students seeking assistance in their education financing.”

The cuStudentLoans program, which currently serves more than 100 participating credit unions, uses common underwriting and pricing in its EdAccess Private Student Loan.

About CU Student Lending, LLC

CU Student Lending, LLC is a leading network of credit unions offering private student lending options to students and families nationwide.  Formed in 2010, CU Student Lending, LLC is comprised of over 100 progressive credit unions that built a member-responsive private student loan program using a common underwriting and pricing platform. The program, which consists of both the EdAccess Private Student Loan and EdSucceed Private Student Loan Consolidation, includes loan participations to enhance and mitigate risk.

Media Contact
Thomas J. O’Shea, Chairman
CU Student Lending, LLC
Thomas.oshea@aspirefcu.org
732-388-0477 ext 8117

Web Site: http://www.custudentloans.org

EverFi, Inc., the leading education technology platform, announced the launch of its Buttonwood™ Student Loan Management platform to directly tackle the trillion dollar crisis of student loans.   At a time when student loan debt has outpaced credit card debt for the first time, Buttonwood™ allows students to build the financial skills necessary to manage the growing debt they are borrowing to pay for higher education. Buttonwood™ will be in over 60 for-profit and non-profit higher education institutions this spring.

“Students and families are under immense financial pressure as they struggle to finance higher education,” said EverFi Chief Executive Officer Tom Davidson. “Through Buttonwood™, we directly empower students with concrete financial and student loan decision-making skills that lead to finishing school and gainful employment.”

“Our goal is that every student takes this course,” said Chief Operating Officer Jon Chapman and Buttonwood™ President. “The student wins, as does the institution focused on decreasing their cohort default rates. We preventatively help students manage their debt obligations that remain with them their entire lives.”

The Buttonwood™ Platform includes a compressed and sophisticated new media presentation of key financial literacy concepts, complemented by an interactive, highly customized gaming simulation that provides a different experience for each individual. Reflecting the diversity of the postsecondary student population, Buttonwood™ adapts to each user so that the educational content around loan management is most applicable to them. Current customers include both for-profit and non-profit institutions.

About EverFi, Inc.

EverFi is the leading education technology platform to teach, assess, and certify students in critical skills including Financial Literacy, Student Loan Management, Digital Literacy, Substance Abuse, and additional product areas to be announced in 2011. The company is already powering a national movement in 50 states that enables students to learn using the latest technology, including rich media, high-definition video, diagrams and avatars. EverFi’s current products include The EverFi Financial Literacy Platform™, Buttonwood™ Student Loan Management Platform, Ignition™ Digital Literacy Platform, and AlcoholEdu® for Colleges.

In March 2011, EverFi acquired Outside the Classroom whose products are used in over five-hundred college campuses, including the majority of the top 100 ranked schools in U.S. News & World Report. More than 3 million students to date have taken Outside the Classroom products, making it one of the largest online courses in the world.

In September 2010, EverFi raised $11 million from New Enterprise Associates, Allen and Company, Tomorrow Ventures, the investment vehicle for Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, and leading CEOs such as Michael Chasen, CEO of Blackboard.

Learn more at www.everfi.com

Credit Card Rewards Guide Released

Credit Card Rewards Guide Released

Credit Card Rewards Guide Released-Image via Wikipedia

Credit card issuers are launching more and more credit card rewards promotions, but which are best for consumers? DailyMarkets.com reads the fine print and lets consumers know the pros and cons of each rewards credit card in its new rewards credit card guide.

DailyMarkets.com, a leading consumer finance website that is based in New York, has released its guide to the best Credit Card Rewards for 2011.

“We often receive emails from US consumers seeking advice on finding the right rewards card for them,” says DailyMarkets.com founder and CEO, Grace Cheng. “As the economic climate improves in the US, credit card issuers have improved their deals and there is now a very wide selection of credit card rewards available to consumers.”

Rewards credit cards appeal to many people because they get rewarded simply for using their rewards card when they make ordinary purchases, whether at the supermarket or just using their credit card to pay recurring utility bills. A rewards card may give you hundreds of dollars worth of freebies if you use your card. Many credit cards offer incentives like cash, air miles, free hotel nights, free air tickets or electronic products to get people to sign-up for the card. DailyMarkets.com, with its access to a huge database of the latest credit card offers in the US, has compiled the best credit cards to suit different lifestyles and needs.

Here’s a list of the best credit card rewards sorted in different categories:

  • Cash back cards – These are credit cards that will appeal to savvy shoppers as they give you back a certain percentage of what you’ve spent in the form of cash rebates, which in effect are discounts. While many cash back cards give a 1% cash back, DailyMarkets.com lists a few cards that offer 5% cash back in its Credit Card Rewards guide.
  • Travel rewards cards specific to certain airlines or hotels – These are credit cards co-branded with certain airlines and hotels offering travel-related rewards to people who use the card, even on everyday type of purchases. In the Credit Card Rewards guide, DailyMarkets.com lists certain airline cards offering free round-trip air tickets as a signing incentive, and also certain hotel cards offering up to four free hotel nights as a bonus for first-time cardmembers.
  • Non-specific travel rewards cards – These are credit cards not affiliated to any specific airline or hotel, offering travel rewards to users. Users get reward points or miles whenever they spend on the card and when they have enough points or miles, they can be redeemed for air tickets, hotel accommodation, car rentals or other non travel-related rewards such as gift cards, merchandise or even cash. DailyMarkets.com reveals the most flexible travel rewards card in the guide.
  • Rewards cards with long 0% balance transfers – For people who wish to have a rewards card with a long period of 0% introductory APR on balance transfers, DailyMarkets.com has found just the right card for that.
  • Business credit cards with rewards – Business owners should take advantage of business rewards cards because not only do they get rewards in return for their business spending, they also get useful tools included in business cards which can help them manage their expenses and finances in a more organized way.
  • Upscale rewards cards – These are cards targeted at affluent consumers who have excellent credit score. DailyMarkets.com lists the world’s most exclusive credit cards, along with the benefits each card has.

To reap the full benefits of rewards credit cards, consumers should always pay off their card balance each month so that they do not fall into the trap of having to pay interest on any owed balance.

One of the main reasons why credit card companies are so keen to sweeten the deal for consumers is that they are hoping more people will become their customers, and that many of them will fail to repay their balance in full every month, thus incurring interest, which translates into money in the pocket for the card issuers.

“If you have good to excellent credit, and can afford to pay off your balance in full every month, you should definitely get a rewards card to help you save even more money. Our Credit Card Rewards guide will show you which are the best rewards cards for different lifestyles, and when you click ‘Apply Now’, we send you off to the official issuer’s website,” says Grace Cheng.

In its goal to become a number one source of information on credit cards, DailyMarkets.com also has a Credit Card Reviews section where consumers can read detailed reviews of any of the cards in the section, and also see how each card is rated. Consumers can also make use of DailyMarkets.com’s smart Credit Card Search Wizard, which sorts through hundreds of the latest credit card offers in the US, to find the perfect card for their individual needs. To enhance users’ search experience, users can filter cards by the best rewards, lowest APR, lowest balance transfer costs or others, and a list of the latest credit card offers matching their search criteria will appear instantly.

About DailyMarkets.com
DailyMarkets.com is a consumer finance site founded in 2008 by Grace Cheng who was named as one of the ‘new kids in cyberspace’ by Financial Times in 2007. In addition to educating consumers about investing and trading, DailyMarkets.com is also dedicated to helping consumers understand more about credit cards and helping them find the best credit card for their needs. Its comprehensive credit card section is perfect for consumers to browse through the different categories of credit card offers such as 0% balance transfer cards, rewards credit cards, business credit cards, and many others – all of which are direct from banks and card issuers themselves. You can also check out DailyMarkets.com’s list of Best Credit Cards 2011. For more information, visit DailyMarkets.com.

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