This Week In Credit Card News: New Way To Earn A Southwest Companion Pass; Amazon, Visa Reach Agreement

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Chase Offering a Companion Pass Plus 30,000 Points for New Southwest Cardholders

Chase has announced a new sign-up bonus for its consumer Southwest co-branded credit cards. New cardholders can earn the Southwest Companion Pass and 30,000 bonus points if they open a new consumer Southwest credit card and spend $5,000 or more in purchases in the first three months from account opening. The promotional offer ends on March 14, and the Companion Pass is valid through February 28, 2023, regardless of when you open the account and meet the spending requirement. The offer is available on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier and Priority cards. The offer is not available on Chase’s co-branded Southwest business credit cards. [Investopedia]

For a limited time, Chase is offering a Companion Pass to new Southwest credit card customers

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Amazon Strikes Agreement With Visa on Payment Fees

Amazon has agreed to accept Visa’s cards across its global network, settling a feud that threatened to damage the financial giant’s business and disrupt e-commerce payments. The agreement resolves a dispute that at one point spurred Amazon to consider a ban on U.K.-issued Visa credit cards. The retailer said it will no longer charge customers who use Visa cards on its site in Singapore and Australia an extra fee, and won’t turn off Visa credit cards from Amazon in the UK. Amazon had considered shifting its popular co-brand credit card to Mastercard. The Amazon card is one of the industry’s largest co-branded portfolios, and the company used talks to renew the agreement as a way to secure better terms from Visa, according to people familiar with the matter. [Bloomberg]

Beware of These Hidden Risks In Popular Buy Now, Pay Later Plans

Many consumers don’t realize BNPL plans are a form of credit or a loan. Instead, people describe them as a “way to pay” or a “money management tool,” and a quarter of users incorrectly told The Motley Fool BNPL plans aren’t debt. Since these services are relatively new and each BNPL provider has its own unique repayment terms and schedule, consumers can get mixed up. Nearly a third of users told LendingTree they didn’t know what the interest rate and fees would be before financing a purchase with one of the services. The simplicity of the application and approval process makes it easy for consumers to get in over their heads. Since many of the services do not check your credit file, there are few safeguards when it comes to whether you can truly afford to repay the loan, given other bills and debts you have to pay. [Newsweek]

How Credit Cards Are Getting In on the Electric Vehicle Spending Trend

Electric vehicles have a ways to go before they’re as ubiquitous as their gas-powered counterparts. EVs made up a mere 2% of new U.S. car sales in 2020. But things could look very different within a few years. And if credit card companies want to get in on the ground floor of a spending trend, they need to act before there’s an EV in every driveway. Among major issuers, U.S. Bank has already dipped its toes in, announcing in January 2022 that its cards that earn bonus rewards on gas purchases will also earn that same rate on purchases at EV charging stations. Bonus rewards for EV charging became technically possible a few years ago when the Visa and Mastercard payment networks added EV charging as a distinct merchant category code or MCC. Because credit card issuers use MCCs when deciding which purchases are eligible for extra points, this paved the way for EV charging as its own bonus category. [Nerd Wallet]

Google to Overhaul Ad Tracking on Android Phones Used by Billions

Google announced it will begin the process of getting rid of long-standing ad trackers on its Android operating system, upending how advertising and data-collection work on phones and tablets used by more than 2.5 billion people around the world. Right now, Google assigns special IDs to each Android device, allowing advertisers to build profiles of what people do on their phones and serve them highly targeted ads. Google will begin testing alternatives to those IDs this year and eventually remove them completely. Google said the changes will improve privacy for Android users, limiting the massive amounts of data that app developers collect from people using the platform. [The Washington Post]

Household Debt Grew by $1 Trillion in 2021, Most Since Before the Great Recession

Household debt grew by more than $1 trillion last year, driven by rising prices on cars and housing, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is the largest annual debt increase since before the Great Recession of 2008. Notably, credit card debt soared by $52 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is the largest quarterly increase in the 22 years since the New York Fed began collecting this data. Outstanding mortgage debt grew by $258 billion during this time, and auto loan balances increased by $15 billion. [Fox Business]

Apple Could Be Positioning to Offer Crypto Payments Via iPhone

Apple has announced that it will be offering its new service, Tap to Pay for iPhones, later this year. The new feature will allow businesses and merchants to use the iPhone as a point-of-sale option via contactless payments. The new service will use near-field communication technology and as of now will include its signature Apple Pay as well as contactless credit and/or debit cards and other digital wallets. Unless it is specifically excluded, this could mean that crypto users with Coinbase cards, Crypto.com Visas, and the like would be able to link their cards and thereby cryptocurrencies to pay through the Tap to Pay service. [Nasdaq]

Ecommerce Shoppers Are Moving to Mobile

U.S. retail ecommerce sales will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year as the flexibility and convenience customers found during the pandemic sticks. Average spend per digital buyer will grow at an 11.6% compound annual growth rate between 2022 and 2025 to reach nearly $7,000. While ecommerce volume will continue growing across channels, it will do so at uneven rates. Desktop and laptop retail ecommerce growth will decelerate as the segment bleeds share. Instead, customers will buy more on mobile, which will exceed 4 in 10 retail ecommerce dollars for the first time this year. Rising time spent on mobile will trickle into shopping. The biggest beneficiary will be smartphones, which will make up 85.0% of mcommerce sales this year. [eMarketer]

NASCAR Releases Co-Branded American Express Card

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has launched a new credit card in an extended partnership with Credit One Bank, as the 2022 racing season kicks off. The collaboration has formed the Credit One Bank NASCAR American Express Card, while designating American Express as the new payment network for the co-branded card. The firm has served as an official partner and issuer of co-branded credit cards for NASCAR since 2016 while American Express joins as the official credit card payment network of the organization this season. [Insider Sport]

CFPB Issues Warning on Use of Prepaid Cards to Pay Government Benefits

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned financial services companies about a longstanding prohibition on using prepaid debit cards as the sole method for distributing government benefits. Companies that get hired by government agencies to distribute payments to consumers may be extracting illegal fees that would be considered an abuse of their exclusive contracts. The CFPB described how beneficiaries of certain state and federal benefits programs are entitled to protections and disclosures under Regulation E, which implements the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. [American Banker]

Mastercard Bets Big on Crypto, Hires 500 People

Mastercard said it was expanding its payments-focused consulting service with new practices dedicated to crypto. The new practices will focus on such areas as crypto and digital currencies, and environment, social and governance, or ESG. Mastercard said it has curated partnerships with digitally native firms that offer solutions in cryptocurrencies and has helped fintechs expand into new markets. Mastercard plans to expand its teams and will hire 500 people, college graduates and young professionals. This big wave of recruitment will bring the division’s workforce to 2,500 people, essentially data scientists, engineers and consultants. [The Street]

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