We blinked, and now it’s the end of 2014. While it seems like this year passed by quickly, the credit card industry went through a spate of changes. Presenting the top five credit card industry trends in 2014.
1. Free credit scores
- Citibank announced its plan to give card members access to a free monthly Equifax FICO score beginning in January 2015.
- Wells Fargo offered account holders a free VantageScore from Oct. 16. to Nov. 16 for the third year in a row.
- Sallie Mae began offering a free quarterly FICO score to students with a Smart Option student loan in the 2014-2015 school year.
- Hyundai, Kia and PenFed allow borrowers free and ongoing access to their FICO score online, as part of the FICO Open Access program.
And, of course, every American is still entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major reporting bureaus annually, regardless of who their creditors are. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to pull your reports.
2. Mobile payment adoption
Let’s get digital, digital. Mobile payments, or payments made through your cell phone rather than a credit card or cash, have been all the rage in 2014. This is great for millennials who, according to a study by the ICBA, overwhelmingly say that mobile banking is “very important” to them. Check out these happenings in the mobile payment sphere this year:
- Apple fans everywhere rejoiced at the release of the iPhone 6 and its inclusion of Apple Pay. Apple Pay works with multiple issuers, including American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo.
- Mobile payment devices like Loop began to spring up on the market and will continue to do so in 2015.
3. Adoption of EMV chip in the United States
Credit card thieves probably shouldn’t quit their day jobs. Though the fraud liability shift won’t occur until October 2015, many credit card issuers and retailers preemptively started offering chip cards and EMV-capable readers, respectively. EMV chips transmit dozens of pieces of information between the card, terminal and acquiring bank’s host, making them safer than traditional magstripes that only process limited data. EMV cards come with one of two card verification methods: chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature.
Many issuers started putting EMV chips in some of their cards, but Citibank upped the ante by putting chips in all of its consumer and student credit cards.
- The barriers to EMV debit technology were removed in April, so while EMV-chipped debit cards are trailing behind credit cards, they’ll come soon.
- President Barack Obama signed an executive order as part of the BuySecure Initiative that, among other things, shifts the government credit and debit cards to chip-and-PIN cards. The U.S. government will also accept chip-and-PIN cards at all retail locations.
Not sure how to use the EMV chip in your card? It’s easy! Insert your card into the payment terminal, follow the prompts and remove your card once the receipt starts printing. If you still need to get a card with an EMV chip, check out a list of our favorite chip-and-signature credit cards.
4. Airline mile devaluations
The positive trends had to end somewhere, right? In less satisfying trend news, frequent flier miles are becoming less valuable. Southwest devalued miles back in March, while Delta and United announced plans for revenue-based earning structures beginning in 2015. This will hurt travel hackers who pride themselves on getting the best deals on flights and reward those who spend more.
To combat these devaluations, we recommend going for general travel cards rather than co-branded cards. Here are a few of our favorite general travel credit cards.
5. Rise of credit card debt
Mile values may be going down, but credit card debt is going up. As of the second quarter of 2014, consumer debt has increased significantly from last year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Overall debt is going down, but non-household debt — like student loan, personal loan and credit card debt — is on the rise. To keep this from trending in 2015, let’s resolve to pay down our credit card debt.
Credit cards image via Shutterstock