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.Details
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.Details
Washington Mutual has extended its “STAR Network” relationship with First Data.Details
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.”Details
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.Details
A new survey by CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com]) 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.
FL-based Morgan Beaumont says its nationwide network of cash loading stations for its sub-prime STV cards is now approximately 16,000.Details
San Francisco-based Bank of the West is migrating its debit card program to MasterCard. The Bank serves 450,000 debit cardholders and offers 355 ATM locations and 296 branches in California, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington State, and Idaho. The parties are also exploring additional debit program possibilities, such as commercial, prepaid, reward-based, and brokerage debit cards. As part of the multi-year agreement, MasterCard Advisors, the professional services affiliate of MasterCard International, will support conversion of existing debit cards for Bank of the West, as well as the soon-to-be- acquired portfolios of Union Safe Deposit Bank and Community First Bankshares. MasterCard added 1.5 million debit card accounts during the second quarter to bring its portfolio to 51.1 million accounts. During the second quarter, MasterCard processed more than 500 million debit card transactions in the USA. For complete details on MasterCard’s 2Q/04 results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
APACS has named a new chief executive following the departure last month of Chris Pearson, the chief executive for the past eight years. Paul Smee, currently Director General at the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, will take over the position by the end of the year. Smee held his post at AIFA since September 1999.APACS is the UK trade association for payments.Details
San Antonio-based Payment Data Systems has released its proprietary “Customer Service Representative View” system that allows billers and merchants to view current credit card and ACH transactions online without the installation of any software. Key product features and functions available to users include enter and view credit card payments, enter and view credit card authorizations, and establishing and managing repeating or recurring payments for customers. CSR View also provides comprehensive search tools to locate ACH and credit card transactions entered in the system using various searchable information such as the date of transaction, the account number, first or last name, transaction confirmation number, and email address. Payment Data Solutions is an Integrated Payments Solutions Provider that delivers comprehensive, cost-effective solutions to billers and retailers.Details