Revolving Credit Grows Slightly During July

Americans added a paltry $300 million to total revolving debt during July as the home refinancing market slowed. One year ago, U.S. consumers added $1.9 billion to revolving debt during the month of July. The July figures, released Monday by the Federal Reserve, reverses the one month decline posted in June during which consumers reduced total revolving debt by a revised $1.3 billion, the first such decline in 2003. According to preliminary figures released yesterday by the Federal Reserve, American consumers were $1.774 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages during July. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the first quarter was $645.6 billion, or roughly 90% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([][1]).

Jul 03 Jun03 May 03 Apr 03 Mar 03 Feb 03 Jan 03
GRWTH: 0.5% -2.1 7.7 3.4 4.1 5.9 5.2
$OWED: $726.9 726.6 727.9 722.8 720.7 718.6 715.5

Dec 02 Nov 02 Oct 02 Sep 02 Aug 02 Jul 02 Jun 02
GRWTH: -6.7% -1.4 1.6 3.0 6.2 6.0 4.1
$OWED: $712.4 716.8 717.9 721.3 719.5 715.6 712.1
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 09/08/03;
For complete historical data visit CardData (



Zebra to Drop the Eltron Brand Name in November

Zebra Technologies announced last week it will market all of its card imaging products under the “Zebra” brand. Beginning in November, all “Eltron” brand plastic card printers and supplies will be re-branded “Zebra.” Zebra Technologies offers a broad range of applications benefit from thermal bar code label and receipt printers and plastic card printers.



China Southern Airlines and the Guangdong Development Bank have teamed to offer a co-branded VISA credit card. The new “Sky Pearl Club VISA Credit Card” can be used as a typical credit card as well as automatically generating mileage on China’s largest airline. The new card is a dual-currency VISA credit card — offering both domestic (China) and International use and RMB payback. The “China Southern Sky Pearl Credit Club” offers Standard and Gold Cards (with dual RMB and USD currency capability) and Platinum Cards (offering USD currency capability). Credit card users can earn for every 15RMB or $2 USD on each purchase and all China Southern passengers are eligible to apply for this new VISA credit card. China Southern Airlines’ “Sky Pearl Club” members receive numerous club benefits including free checked luggage allowance and new VISA credit card members can use their miles for free flights or class upgrades on China Southern Airlines.


MasterCard SecureCode Runs on Sun Fire Servers

MasterCard has chosen Sun Microsystems’ “Sun Fire” servers running “Java” technology and the “Solaris” operating platform to run the MasterCard “SecureCode” hosted service. Arcot, a Sun “iForce” partner, is providing its e-payments authentication software, “TransFort,” to facilitate implementation of MasterCard “SecureCode” onto the servers. This hosted service, offered to issuing members worldwide, enables MasterCard and Maestro issuers to protect confidential cardholder data over the Internet, providing cardholder authentication and an enhanced payment guarantee. MasterCard “SecureCode” runs on several “Sun Fire V880” servers for database management and more than a dozen “Sun Fire 280R” servers to run the Sun “ONE” software suite. A second phase for several more “Sun Fire V880” servers is being planned to address growing demand for the service.


NetSpend Links Up to Allpoint SFA ATM Network

Stored-value card specialist NetSpend has partnered with Allpoint to make the surcharge-free ATM functionality available to its 350,000 “All-Access MasterCard” card-holders. The NetSpend/Allpoint partnership represents the first time that general purpose prepaid card customers will have surcharge-free cash access through an ATM network nationwide, a benefit usually reserved to high balance bank accountholders or payroll debit cardholders. The prepaid “All-Access MasterCard” card, issued by Inter National Bank, is targeted at unbanked American households. Allpoint’s nationwide network has 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs. “All-Access” cardholders may also opt to participate in NetSpend’s proprietary “CredAbility” program, which helps cardholders establish a positive payment history with credit bureaus.


Harris Bank Expands Business Cards & Online Access

Chicago-based Harris Bank has introduced two new credit cards and has launched “Harris details Online” for its business customers. Harris is now offering the “Business Rewards MasterCard” and the “No Annual Fee Card.” The “Business Rewards MasterCard” offers business owners one point for every dollar of purchases charged to their card and their employee cards. Employee points are rolled up into the owner’s card. Points earned can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift certificates or “MasterCard Bonus Cards.” The new “No Annual Fee Card” applies to both the owner’s card or optional employee cards. With the new “Harris details Online,” business cardholders will be able to manage expenses on a Web-based reporting solution. The site allows clients to view statement information, including new transactions, balances and credit limits, run reports, add or delete cards, and request credit limit increases.


MBNA & Merrill Lynch to Launch Co-Branded Card

MBNA has inked a partnership with Merrill Lynch to develop, market and service a full line of unsecured credit cards for Merrill Lynch clients. In return, Merrill Lynch products and services will be marketed to MBNA customers. The new “Total Merrill” credit cards are expected to be issued in the first quarter of next year. In January, Merrill Lynch launched its comprehensive financial management platform, “Total Merrill.”


Spiegel’s Online Sales Decline 42% Due to Cards

The Spiegel Group reported a 30% decrease in August sales. Catalog and e-commerce sales decreased 42% compared to last year, primarily due to lower customer demand, a planned reduction in catalog circulation and the ongoing negative effect of the discontinuation in early March of the company’s private-label credit cards issued by First Consumers National Bank to customers of its merchant companies. The Spiegel Group’s businesses include Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Spiegel Catalog.