Timesofmoney.com to Market GTEL Prepaid Cards

Timesofmoney.com has signed an MOU to provide direct deposit facilities to 54 banks and issue prepaid cards in India for GTEL cardholders. TimesofMoney.com is an online financial super mall,
founded as a joint venture between The Times of India Group and
Citigroup. It promotes credit cards, loans, mutual funds, tax filing and NRI services. TimesofMoney.com is the brand of Times Online Money Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Times Group. GlobeTel of Miami is an IP solutions and applications based company.

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MS-Discover Adds a Mileage Card in the UK

Morgan Stanley, the issuer of the “Discover Card,” has added another card to its U.K. portfolio, now offering travel points instead of its traditional cashback program. The new “Morgan Stanley buy and fly! MasterCard” earns one point for every GBP10 of purchases with bonus points earned for purchases made at participating U.K. retail merchant partners. Points can be redeemed for travel on 17 airlines. Points earned expire after three years. Morgan Stanley is offering a six-month 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers, followed by a go-to rate of 16.9%. There is no annual fee. Morgan Stanley introduced its first credit card in the U.K. in 1999. Like its U.S. cousin, Morgan Stanley offers a cashback feature on its “Platinum MasterCard.” The issuer also offers a “Gold MasterCard” featuring its best interest rate.

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Majority of U.S. Banks Shun Debit PIN POS Fees

Despite complaints from retailers, 62% of Americans say they are not charged fees for using their PIN with a debit card for purchases. Only one out of four say they are charged such fees, and 14% say they have no idea if they are being charged or not by the bank or the merchant. The results are based on a recent CardWeb.com homepage poll of 1,050 unique consumers, with an error margin of plus or minus 5%. The National Retail Federation recently said that fees for PIN POS debit card transactions are causing confusion in the marketplace as consumers believe the fees are charged by the retailer instead of the bank issuer. The NRF wants banks that charge a fee for PIN transactions to fully disclose the fee it will charge and the name of the bank that will receive the fee. The NRF says a bank should be required to reveal that it is already receiving an interchange fee, and to bear all costs of disclosure, including any hardware or software the merchant would be required to install. The NRF says the bank fees, which range from $0.50 to $1.50 per transaction, have prompted consumers to demand refunds from countless retailers.

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OPEN Executive Business Card is Upgraded

American Express has beefed-up its “OPEN Executive Business Card.” The card, designed for business owners who are frequent travelers, now offers a complimentary companion ticket, benefits in the Starwood “Preferred Business Program”, and free roadside assistance. The card currently offers automatic savings for purchases with AT&T, FedEx, Hertz, and Staples access to the “Small Business Dashboard” and expense management reports, free linkage to the “Membership Rewards” program for all additional cards on the account, and complimentary membership in the Hertz “#1 Club Gold” and National Car “Emerald Club.”

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Australian Regulators Now Target Debit Interchange

After declaring VISA debit cards as a “payment system” earlier this year, the Reserve Bank of Australia this week designated the entire EFT/POS debit card business as a “payment system.” The decision means that fees charged for EFT/POS transactions on the 24.7 million debit card accounts currently in use in Australia will now be subject to regulation. In deciding to designate the EFT/POS system, the Payments System Board concluded that current interchange arrangements are not conducive to the efficiency of the overall payments system. In particular, the nature of the interchange arrangements contribute to the effective price that cardholders are charged for payments using EFT/POS being higher than for payments using credit cards. The Board says the EFT/POS system has relatively lower costs. The Board judged that a narrowing of this differential in relative prices and costs would promote the efficiency of the overall payments system. The Board opted not to declare the ATM system a “payment system” at this time. During June, Australians used debit cards for $4.0 billion in EFT/POS in 83.2 million debit card transactions. In June, debit cards were used for $3.0 billion in purchases among 69 million transactions.

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Co-branded Airline Cards are Costly for Revolvers

A new survey by CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]) found that the average annual fee charged for an airline co-branded bank credit card is $51.09 and that the average interest rate is 14.35%. All of the 11 airlines in the survey used a variable rate structure, with prime +9.99% the most common. Of the 11 banks issuing the cards, their lowest card pricing carried an interest rate of 8.46%. About half the issuers offered low fixed rates instead of variable rates on their lowest interest rate cards. All of the lowest rate cards offered by banks, involved in airline-sponsored cards, charged no annual fee. The survey found that consumers revolving a $3,000 balance and charging $1,050 per month paid, on average, $70 more to earn a free ticket rather than paying for the ticket.

[1]: http://www.cardtrak.com

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