• Banking,  Credit Cards,  Debt,  Financial Regulation,  Road Trip

    The space between want and need

    I’m now on Day 13 on my road trip at my aunt and uncle’s farm in Blue Earth County, Minnesota — today is the first day of the planting season for corn. It’s getting a late start because of all the rain. My next stop will be in Iowa. If there’s one comment that has come up in most of my interviews with the people who wished they hadn’t borrowed money on a credit card, it’s that they used the card for things they realized they “didn’t really need.” That word “really” hints at the notion that there is actually a lot of ambiguous space in between want and need.…

  • Credit Cards,  Financial Regulation

    Are credit card rewards even good for consumers?

    Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that merchants like Home Depot, Target, and Amazon are becoming increasingly frustrated with the high fees they pay to accept rewards credit cards, and are seeking relief from the courts or through negotiations with Visa and Mastercard.   Particularly, merchants are looking for the networks Visa and Mastercard to end their ‘honor all cards’ rules, which say that if you accept any Visa credit card you need to accept all Visa credit cards, and ditto with Mastercard. Today, if you spend $100 at a large grocery store, Visa would charge the store a $2.20 processing fee if you used a top-tier rewards credit…

  • Banking,  Credit Cards,  Financial Regulation

    What’s happening with consumer financial protection around the world

    In the United States, there hasn’t been much positive policy action on consumer financial protection recently, at least not at the federal level. But regulators and policy-makers in the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore have been trying a range of solutions, some incremental and some radical, to make life better for borrowers in their countries. You can read more in my post for the Duke Global Financial Markets Center’s FinReg blog.

  • Banking,  Credit Cards

    “I’m not falling for your tricks” and other mixed reactions to credit limit increases

    All it takes is a quick search on Twitter to see that credit limit increases drive incredibly strong and oftentimes mixed emotional reactions for Americans. To clarify, when I say ‘credit limit increase’ here, I’m talking about when a credit card issuer raises the limit of how much a customer is able to spend or borrow. In theory, having access to more credit — that you’re under no obligation to use — seems like it would be a strictly good thing. It’s there if you need it, and if you don’t use your higher credit limit, your credit score will typically go up (this article explains why). But clearly, many…