Balance Transfer Fees, Intro Rates Fall

Average balance transfer fees fell slightly in November on 0% balance
transfer credit card offers, as did the average length of 0%
introductory rates. Namely, Citibank increased the length of their Citi
Platinum Select Card’s balance transfer offer from 18 months to 21
months while the 0% introductory rate on the Citi Diamond Preferred Card
was increased from 12 months to 21 months. Presently, 21 months is the
longest 0% introductory rate on the market. Discover also increased the
length of their “Discover More” Card’s balance transfer offer from 15
months to 18 months, making it the second longest 0% introductory APR
available. This, according to a recent SmartBalanceTransfers.com monthly
survey, shows the overall average length of 0% balance transfer credit
cards surveyed in November was 11.18 months, down from the October
average of 11.6 months. Average balance transfer fees charged by major
credit card companies dropped to 3.63% in November from an average of
3.65% in October. This drop is thanks to in part to Citi having
decreased transfer fees from 5% to 3% on both credit cards that come
with a 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers.

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Acquirgy Launches Western Union Program

Acquirgy digital and traditional Acquisition Marketing has deployed its “Direct Response TV” test campaign to introduce and gain distribution of its Western Union “MoneyWise” Prepaid MasterCard. Based on initial positive results, the Western Union Direct Response TV program has been rolled out on a National basis. Acquirgy provided complete services including creative development, production, post-production, media planning and buying and state-of-the-art offline to online response reporting through their proprietary iFactz tracking system.

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First Data Releases its Black Friday Analysis

First Data has released its “SpendTrend” analysis for Black Friday 2010 compared to Black Friday 2009. Tracking same-store consumer spending via credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards at U.S. merchant locations, this year’s “SpendTrend” shows card spending growth returned to pre-recession levels. This despite a year-over-year same-store dollar volume growth of 12.3% and overall transaction growth of 10.1%. Consumers increased their overall average purchase size by 1.9% on Black Friday 2010; average tickets increased 1.1%; and retailers saw Black Friday 2010 dollar volume growth of 8.6%. General Merchandise Stores outperformed all other retail sub-categories with a dollar volume growth of 12.6%; Clothing sales posted dollar volume growth of 10.6%; Sporting Goods/Hobby/Book and Music Stores saw dollar volume growth improve to 12.2%; and Electronics/Appliances was down -6.7% compared to last year. Overall Black Friday dollar volume growth was 12.3%, with retailers marketing toward value-conscious consumers with low prices so they would purchase more individual items.

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Credit Card Delinquency Down 24.6% Y/Y

Going into the busiest retail shopping season of the year, the national credit card delinquency rate is down 0.83% in 3Q/10 by nearly 9.8% since 2Q/10 and down 24.6% since the year ago period. Thanks mostly to eight million consumers having stopped actively using bank-issued, the national average credit card borrower debt still edged upward for the first time in six quarters by 0.28% to $4,964 since the $4,951 clocked in 2Q/10, but down 11.54% from the year ago figure of $5,612. This is in conjunction with the TransUnion Credit Risk Index (CRI) having declined for the third consecutive quarter by 0.9% in 3Q/10 by 87 basis points to now stand at 126.79, from 127.66 and 1.9% lower than in the year ago period. This pushes down consumer risk to a risk level not witnessed in the U.S. since 1Q/09 thanks mostly to fewer borrowers delinquent on one or more accounts and lower outstanding debt. Not everything is coming up roses; although delinquencies improved for the ninth straight month, with late stage delinquency down 6 bps to 3.5% and early stage delinquency down by 1 bps to 4.61%, credit card chargeoffs are still above the vital 10% mark. The credit card charge off rate is still way down after having skyrocketed to 10.93% in March of 2010, with having soared past the 6% mark in December of 2008, the 8% mark that following spring, and finally the 10% mark in September of ’09. Charge-offs are expected to continue declining into 1H/11, thanks to credit card issuers having already written off balances from borrowers with weak credit over the past couple of years and tightening underwriting standards. Delinquency is down because of charge-offs in the higher risk segments of the population, more conservative spending in the low-risk segments, and significant efforts by consumers across the board to maintain the health of their credit card relationships as a financial cushion. These promising findings are coupled with a 6.5% compounded quarterly increase in demand for credit, showing consumer credit activity will be stronger in terms of quality and volume (CardFlash Library, 2010/11/29, 2010/11/1, 2010/11/08). For complete details on credit card charge-offs and the credit card delinquency rate visit Carddata.com (www.carddata.com).

COFS HISTORICAL
Jun/08: 5.3%
Sep/08: 5.5%
Dec/08: 6.0%
Mar/09: 8.7%
Jun/09: 9.5%
Sep/09: 10.1%
Dec/09: 10.6%
Mar/10: 10.93%
Jun/10: 10.28%
Sep/20: 10.19%
Source: CardData
(www.carddata.com)

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AmEx and Zynga Offer Members Added Rewards

American Express has partnered with Zynga to let customers use Membership Rewards points from American Express to pay for limited edition virtual goods, as well as physical and virtual game cards for Zynga’s games. American Express is the first financial services provider to offer reward redemptions for virtual games and lets Cardmembers enrolled in the Membership Rewards program use points to purchase Zynga game cards, as well as a variety of virtual goods. These include FarmVille manors and windmills, Café World fountains and stoves, and YoVille roadsters and robots. Typing “Zynga” in the keyword search on www.membershiprewards.com brings up all virtual goods for use in Zynga’s games. The specific redemption offers will start at 200 points.

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AIDS Foundation To Compete for AmEx $200K

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has been selected as a candidate charity in the American Express “Members Project,” in partnership with TakePart. Supporters of AHF can now go online and vote weekly to help the organization be one of five charities in the current round of voting to share a total of $1,000,000 in funding from American Express. The funding will help AHF further its mission to provide cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of a person’s ability to pay and will make a significant impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and around the globe. The “Members Project” is a social action network to encourage everyone to take his or her step and help support worthy causes and charitable organizations.

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Small Businesses Projections Better for 71%

Being the most gleaming reflection on how well the economy is doing,
small business owners are feeling optimistic. In fact, 71% have
disclosed “much better” or “somewhat better than expected” performance
when compared to their initial 2010 projections. Only 4% of business
owners answered “worse than expected” and only 21% had been turned down
for a bank loan or credit line in the past year. This is in conjunction
with 38% having disclosed credit card companies had “unjustifiably”
either lowered their card’s credit limit or closed the account
completely. This, according to the first semi-annual survey of national
business owners by Prepaid Expense Card Solutions, also showed when they
were asked to rate on a 1-10 scale how hard it has been over the past
year to maintain adequate cash flow for their businesses, 48% of owners
ranked between 6-10 while a mere 27% placed this in the 1-4 scale.
Additional findings show 65% are most concerned with maintaining a
“sufficient cash flow”; 31% are most concerned with “taxes”; 29% are
most concerned with “volatile sales”; and 25% worry about their “debt.”
This is consistent with the Discover “Small Business Watch” monthly
index having risen to 87.2 in November, up 3 points from 84.2 in October
for a third consecutive monthly gain, up more than 10 points since the
year ago period. The Discover “Small Business Watch” also shows 25% of
small business owners reported they will increase spending on business
development in the next six months, up from 22% in October; 40% will
decrease business development spending in the next six months, down from
46% in October; and 28% don’t plan any changes. Also, 33% believe the
economy is getting better, up from 31% in October and the highest since
May; while 46% believe the economy is getting worse, down from 48% in
October; 17% believe it’s staying the same, equal to last month; and 4%
are not sure. Meanwhile, 24% of small business owners extend credit to
their customers and over the past three months 66% reported customers
delayed payment, down from 73% in 2009 (CardFlash Library, (2010/11/29).

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Charity Gift Cards Now on Facebook

CharityChoice Gift Cards introduced a new method for giving charity gifts to friends on Facebook. You can now create a personalized charitable “GivingBuddy” ecard that can be shared with Facebook friends on their Wall, showing a message and ecard graphic. CharityChoice provides a redemption URL for the card, to be attached as a link when sharing with your friend. This non-invasive system enables users to post charitable ecards on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. The “GivingBuddy” card allows the giver to pre-select a charity to receive a portion of their donation, leaving their Buddy with the opportunity to pick another two causes. You can now select from over 500 major national and local charities. Causes include those for children, environment, health, military, animals, disaster relief and more. The gift-giver can choose cheerful holiday, environmental green, birthday or all-occasion card designs, specify an amount starting from $2, and add a greeting and message.

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USANA to Sponsor Visa Women’s Ski Jumping

USANA Health Sciences will be the official health supplements supplier of the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team. The team continues to compete on the Continental Cup circuit and has been fighting for inclusion in the Olympic Winter Games. Ski jumping is the only discipline in the Olympic Games that does not allow women to participate. In addition to sponsoring the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team, USANA demonstrates its commitment to sports by sponsoring teams and organizations such as the Women’s Tennis Association, US Speedskating, USA Luge and many others.

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GROUND LABS

Ground Labs payment card security has introduced its EBCDIC support to make its security and auditing software solutions for PCI compliance compatible with many enterprise legacy systems. Ground Labs provides development of security and auditing software solutions across the payment card industry. Its “Card Recon” and “Enterprise Recon” identify and analyze data storage risks on thousands of computer systems worldwide, helping companies prevent security breaches that result in the theft of customers’ credit and debit card numbers.

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19% of Small Businesses See Revenue Increase Y/Y

The Discover “Small Business Watch” monthly index rose to 87.2 in November, up 3 points from 84.2 in October for a third consecutive monthly gain, up more than 10 points since the year ago period. Additional index findings show 25% of small business owners reported they will increase spending on business development in the next six months, up from 22% in October; 40% will decrease business development spending in the next six months, down from 46% in October; and 28% don’t plan any changes. Also, 33% believe the economy is getting better, up from 31% in October and the highest since May; while 46% believe the economy is getting worse, down from 48% in October; 17% believe it’s staying the same, equal to last month; and 4% are not sure. Meanwhile, 24% of small business owners extend credit to their customers and over the past three months 66% reported customers delayed payment, down from 73% in 2009.

SMB HISTORIC
JAN: 85.2
FEB: 85.0
MAR: 78.2
APR: 85.1
MAY: 87.4
JUN: 86.1
JUL: 83.0
AUG: 73.0
SEP: 73.8
OCT: 84.2
NOV: 87.2
SOURCE: CardData.com

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