5 Charity-Focused Credit Cards That Help You Donate

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If you’re still cutting checks to your favorite causes, you might be missing out. Some credit cards focus on charitable giving, helping you earn rewards or fundraise for your favorite nonprofit organization as you spend.

Here are five charity-focused credit cards that can help support a great cause.

1. Charity Charge Mastercard

Rewards: 1% cash back on every purchase for your organization of choice.
Sign-Up Bonus:
None

Annual Fee: $0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR):
1.99% APR for six months on purchases and balance transfers, then the prime rate (a variable amount determined by the Federal Reserve) plus 6.99% to the prime rate plus 16.99% APR.

Why We Picked It: Cardholders can donate tax-deductible cash rewards to multiple nonprofits.
For Your Charitable Donations: Every purchase earns 1% cash back, which is donated on a quarterly basis to as many as three nonprofits of your choosing. Recipients won’t have to pay credit card processing fees, which means all your rewards go directly to the organization(s) of your choice.

Drawbacks: Many competing cards earn stronger cash back rates.

2. U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rewards: Three points per dollar donated to charity through 2017 (two points thereafter); two points per dollar spent at airlines, gas stations, grocery stores, and select cellular providers; one point per dollar spent on other eligible purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
20,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in net purchases in the first four months.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $49.
APR:
Variable 14.99% to 24.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: This card awards points specifically for charitable donations.
For Your Charitable Donations:
Through the end of this year, charitable donations earn triple points on the dollar (beyond 2017, donations will earn two points per dollar). Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more.

Drawbacks: There isn’t much time left to take advantage of triple points for charitable donations. 

3. World Wildlife Fund Credit Card

Rewards: 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
$150 online cash rewards bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0
APR:
0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR.

Why We Picked It: If you value nature and wildlife conservation, this card helps you earn cash back as you support the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
For Your Charitable Donations:
All purchases earn cash back, with special rates reserved for gas, grocery store, and wholesale club purchases. You can donate your redeemed cash back if you wish, but the WWF will benefit either way. The WWF will receive a minimum $3 donation when you open the card and an additional $3 annually. Plus, the WWF receives .08% of all retail purchases made on the card.

Drawbacks: This card is locked into the WWF, so keep looking if you prefer another charity.

4. HaloCard Visa

Rewards: 1% of purchases for your nonprofit of choice.
Sign-Up Bonus:
None

Annual Fee: $0
APR:
9.9% APR for six months on purchases, then variable 13.9% APR; 7.9% APR for 12 months on balance transfers, then variable 13.9% APR.

Why We Picked It: This card makes automatic donations to your favorite nonprofit.
For Your Charitable Donations:
All purchases earn 1% back, which is donated to the nonprofit of your choosing. You can change which nonprofit to donate to at any time, and all donations are tax deductible. The nonprofit will not incur any processing fees.

Drawbacks: The 1% earning rate isn’t very impressive compared to other cards.

5. Pink Ribbon BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards: 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
$150 online cash rewards bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0
APR:
0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR.

Why We Picked It: You can help Susan G. Komen fight breast cancer with this card.
For Your Charitable Donations:
Bank of America customers get an extra 10% bonus cash when they redeem their cash back as an electronic deposit into their Bank of America account. Susan G. Komen gets $3 when you open the card and an additional $3 every year you renew. Plus, Susan G. Komen receives .08% of all retail purchases made on the card.

Drawbacks: The best cash back value is reserved for Bank of America customers.

How to Choose a Card for Charitable Donations

If you have one favorite nonprofit that gets the lion’s share of your donations, it’s worth checking if they offer a branded credit card. That way, you can easily support your favorite cause as you use your card.

If you plan to donate your cash back earnings to charity, be sure to compare charity-focused cards with their traditional competitors. With traditional cards, you can simply redeem your cash back or rewards and donate them directly to your charity of choice. It’s extra work, but it might be worth it for a more lucrative rewards program.

Make sure to check redemption and donation options for rewards. Some credit cards let you redeem your rewards for charitable donations, with no extra steps necessary. Certain rewards programs even let you donate miles or points to charity.

What Credit Is Required for a Card for Charitable Giving?  

Rewards cards, charity-focused or otherwise, usually require good to excellent credit. Before you apply, ensure you have a good shot at approval, as a hard credit inquiry can lower your score. You can check your credit report absolutely free at Credit.com.

Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 5 Charity-Focused Credit Cards That Help You Donate appeared first on Credit.com.

Why You May Start Seeing More Chip Card Readers Soon

chip-credit-card-readers

The switch to chip-enabled credit cards last year came with a serious deadline: New rules went into effect in October making merchants more liable for fraud.

As is obvious to everyone who’s swiped when they should have inserted their card at a checkout line, the changeover hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped. So, quietly, the credit card associations have taken steps to roll back the rules surrounding the changeover. The steps should be welcomed both by merchants, who will see their liability for fraudulent charges reduced, and consumers, who will soon see more chip-card machines as a result.

The new EMV credit cards were designed to take a bite out of credit card fraud. But in some cases, they’ve taken a bite out of merchant profits instead.

As of October of last year, merchants hit with fraud who weren’t using chip cards were declared responsible for counterfeit fraud by credit card associations Visa and MasterCard. The rule was intended to be the ultimate motivator to shift to EMV, encouraging stores to spend the $1,000 or so to upgrade their point-of-sale terminals.

Hundreds of millions of EMV chip cards have been put in the hands of consumers in the past year, and many are working as advertised at 1 million-plus merchants. But some stores have been slow to turn on chip card readers – they blame banks for a backlog in certifying the machines — which has led to huge fraud bills. One lawsuit alleged that some merchants have seen fraud rates rise 20-fold while they are waiting for new chip readers they purchased to get the green light from bank partners.

Other reporting by Credit.com found that in March, four out of five chip card readers weren’t turned on. (Again, a backlog in certification was blamed.) Perhaps in response, Visa announced in June that it was placing limits on the amount of fraud that non-EMV merchants could face. They also said they were working to streamline certification.

Effective July 22, Visa said it would temporarily prevent banks from forcing merchants to pay for counterfeit card frauds less than $25. Starting in October, banks will be limited to 10 counterfeit chargebacks per merchant account.

“These two changes together will significantly reduce the number [of] chargebacks that merchants are seeing,” Visa said in its statement. “Following these changes, merchants can expect to see 40% fewer counterfeit chargebacks, and a 15% reduction in U.S. counterfeit fraud dollars being charged back.”

The blocks will remain in effect until April 2018, when, theoretically, the kinks in the EMV conversion will be fixed. Visa also promised to give banks greater discretion in certifying EMV terminals, which should help merchants turn on all those chip readers.

“Visa recognizes the importance of having the industry help merchants get their chip terminal solutions up and running quickly so that everyone, especially consumers, can benefit from the powerful security protection of chip technology,” said Oliver Jenkyn, Group Executive North America, Visa Inc. “We’ve taken steps to simplify the process as much as possible and help reduce any challenges so merchants can move forward with chip adoption quickly.”

Fraud analyst Avivah Litan from consultancy Gartner Group applauded the move. “This is really meaningful,” she said. “The merchants must be getting totally slammed with every chargeback on the books.”

Also in June, MasterCard announced a similar program to speed up point-of-sale certification. In a statement, the association said it “continuously evaluates thresholds” relating to chargebacks.

“The whole industry wins when action is taken against counterfeit card fraud. Reducing terminal certification-testing time to a couple of hours from as long as a couple of weeks is one positive step we can take in a more mature market,” said Chiro Aikat, senior vice president of product delivery, EMV, for MasterCard.

Remember, EMV chip cards can help reduce fraud, but they’re not a fail-safe. In fact, the chip doesn’t protect your payment information when you’re shopping online, so it’s still a good idea to stick to trusted websites and monitor statements regularly for unauthorized charges. And, if you ever have reason to believe your personal information was compromised alongside your payment cards, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit for signs your identity has been stolen. You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

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This Bank Is Giving New Credit Cardholders Rewards Every Time the U.S. Wins a Medal at Rio

olympics_bonus_points

In case you need more incentive to get excited over Team USA wins at the Olympics in Rio later this month, Visa and U.S. Bank are teaming up to offer cardholders extra points every time a U.S. athlete medals.

The FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa card promotion runs in the United States from Aug. 1 through Sept. 3, 2016. Cardmembers who apply and are approved during the promotion can earn bonus FlexPoints for every U.S. Olympic win — 200 FlexPoints for every Gold Medal, 100 FlexPoints for every Silver Medal and 50 FlexPoints for every Bronze Medal.

“This promotion will encourage our new FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Cardmembers to share in the achievement of United States Olympians and bring them closer to The Olympics,” Cliff Cook, senior vice president for the U.S. Bank retail credit-card division, said.

Cardmembers also can receive an extra 20,000 Enrollment Bonus FlexPoints when they spend $2,000 within the first four months after their account is opened.

The offer is subject to credit approval, and is not available to current or previous cardholders. FlexPoints will be awarded as long as one purchase is posted to the account owner’s individual account by Sept. 30, 2016.

Rewards credit cards can be great for people who don’t carry a balance month to month as these cards tend to have higher interest rates. Remember, before applying for any new card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to make sure there aren’t any surprises. (You can keep track of your credit scores and what areas of your credit you might be able to improve by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: Wavebreakmedia

The post This Bank Is Giving New Credit Cardholders Rewards Every Time the U.S. Wins a Medal at Rio appeared first on Credit.com.

How Companies Know Your New Credit Card Number Before You Give it to Them

company-knew-your-new-credit-card-information

Recently, a Netflix customer took to Reddit to explain how he got a big surprise when the streaming service charged him using his new credit card number, which he hadn’t given them. How did that happen?

One commenter offered a clue: Netflix likely participates in Visa’s Account Updater program.

Netflix declined to comment on whether it uses updater services.

However, for retailers who rely on recurring payments or cards on file in general, “it’s becoming very normal to use this technology,” according to Eric Lindeen, vice president of marketing for ID Analytics in San Diego, California, which offers fraud prevention tools to issuers. And updater services, which notify merchants of changes to customers’ cards, will only become more common, as Visa will reportedly require U.S. issuers to participate in its service, effective October 1. (Visa did not respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.)

How Updater Services Work  

Each month, merchants send a list of names and card numbers to their acquirer, or payment processor, who check their data against Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, Lindeen explained. The acquirer lists the cards with updated information, and returns the list to the merchant. From there, the merchant updates their files before submitting transactions that month.

Lindeen cites the rise of identity theft as one of the main factors contributing to the proliferation of updater services offered by startups like Stripe and BrainTree and old-school issuers like Visa and MasterCard.

“As fraudsters become more competent,” he reasoned, “the financial system has to become more complex to deal with them. So many credit cards have been stolen that led to numbers being changed.”

Brave New World

A few years ago, it was typical for customers to forgo updating their card when they wanted to cancel a service. The reasoning, according to Lindeen, was they’d just let it expire and eventually the billing would stop. Even today, it’s not uncommon for people to assume their account is going to lapse, like the Reddit user.

However, as more merchants enroll in updater services, our behaviors are going to change. It’s perfectly legal for issuers to share card information with merchants with whom you do business, — the assumption is if you signed up for their service, you’ve assumed responsibility for the bill — so consumers must be more vigilant about canceling various services, Lindeen said. Another imperative: Letting card issuers know when you don’t want a merchant to receive your new info, which you can do by phone.

“The good news is, I think the issuers and networks are really thinking about how to adapt to this new normal,” Lindeen said of the updater services. “We need to go from a world where [identity theft] was an exception to a world where we’re built to handle that effectively.” Updater services are a step in that direction, he said.

If you have reason to believe you’ve been a victim of fraud — common signs of identity theft include unauthorized charges, unfamiliar addresses and mysterious accounts opening in your name — be sure to check your credit score to find out more. You can view your two free scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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Wal-Mart Sues Visa Over Chip Card Transactions

credit card fraud

Two industry giants are set to face off in court over that chip debit card in your wallet.

Wal-Mart filed a lawsuit against Visa on Tuesday, alleging the network is forcing its customers to use signatures in lieu of PINs when paying with chip-based debit cards, The Wall Street Journal reports

This compromises customers’ security, Wal-Mart asserts, making them vulnerable to fraud.

“PIN is the only truly secure form of cardholder verification in the marketplace today, and it offers superior security to our customers,” Wal-Mart said in an emailed statement. “VISA nevertheless has demanded that we allow fraud-prone signature verification for debit transactions in our U.S. stores because VISA stands to make more money processing those transactions. We believe VISA’s position creates unacceptable risk to customers and its actions and rules are inconsistent with federal law.”

Visa did not immediately respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.

Protecting Your Payment Information

Retailers have been steadily upgrading their terminals to accept chip-enabled credit cards and debit cards — which generate a dynamic security code each time you pay and are, therefore, considered much harder to counterfeit — before and ahead of new network rules that went into effect last October. These rules essentially require merchants who haven’t upgraded to cover the cost of fraudulent transactions. (Prior to the shift, financial institutions generally covered the cost of fraud.)

Chip-and-PIN cards, which are prevalent abroad, have been touted as more secure than the signature-based chip cards widely adopted in the U.S., largely due to the fact that there’s one more number a thief would need to obtain before they used a card (the PIN) and that they protect cardholders from lost and stolen card fraud.

Of course, regardless of whether you are using chip-and-PIN- or chip-and-signature-based payments, it’s important to monitor financial accounts. Chips, after all, aren’t a fail-safe when it comes to fraud. (They do little to protect your information, for instance, when shopping online.) And the sooner you report suspicious charges to your issuer, the fewer hassles and potential liability you’ll face.

You’ll also want to check your credit if you ever have reason to believe your personal information was compromised alongside your payment information. You can do so by pulling your credit reports each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your two free credits scores each month on Credit.com.

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Visa Adds New Tools to Give You More Control of Your Credit Cards

credit_card_offer

Credit cards are getting smarter — finally. Last year, Discover launched its nifty “Freeze It” feature, which acts like a temporary on/off switch for account holders who think-they-have-but-maybe-haven’t lost their card. Now, Visa is announcing a whole set of similar app-activated “switches” that give consumers even more granular fraud-fighting and allowance-permitting tools.

Called “Visa Consumer Transaction Controls,” the new tools will let consumers set spending limits (only $500 a month for Junior), block entire sets of transactions (no online shopping for Junior), or turn cards on and off, similar to the “Freeze it” feature on Discover cards.

While Visa makes the tools available, it’ll be up to issuing banks to add the capabilities to consumers’ accounts. Software development tools will make it relatively easy for banks to add the options to their online banking apps, meaning consumers can update the controls on their mobile devices in real-time.

“By putting the account holder in charge, Visa card issuers can provide their consumers peace of mind through innovative spending controls, and more effective fraud prevention,” said Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of Risk Products and Business Intelligence, Visa Inc.

The tools might also be useful in budgeting, too. Transactions over a certain dollar amount can be banned — giving the consumer a chance to second-guess a big purchase. More important, since spending controls can be applied to different transaction types and date ranges, the controls could be used to send an alert or to freeze all spending in one area – online, for example – notifying the account holder that he or she is over budget.

MasterCard said it offers a similar spending-alert tool, called In Control, to banks that issue its credit cards.

“Once an issuing bank agrees to offer In Control, the issuing bank can choose the most appropriate deployment form for their operation and then communicate to their cardholders,” said Seth Eisen, a MasterCard spokesman. “The cardholders can then access In Control either through the bank’s mobile app or website, or by registering on a separate app or website if the bank doesn’t offer this service through their own channels.”

American Express didn’t immediately response to a request for comment.

In a video accompanying its product launch, Visa stressed the ability of parents to limit their kids’ credit card spending with the tool.

“With new digital commerce experiences emerging daily, it’s important that we provide easy and convenient ways for consumers to direct and monitor how their accounts are used and help better secure the payment system,” Nelsen said.

It’s not immediately clear when the transaction controls will be made available to consumers (Visa didn’t immediately respond to a question about that). Here’s a full list of features Visa is offering, per its press release:

  • Temporarily stop transactions. At the touch of a button, the account holder can easily turn card authorizations on and off and take immediate action should their card become misplaced, lost, or stolen.
  • Manage specific transaction types. Consumers can block or request alerts for selected activity including purchases in-store, online or internationally, as well as ATM withdrawals.
  • Set spending limits. Account holders can limit transaction size, set spending limits over a period of time, or receive spending alerts based on transaction amount.
  • Manage multiple cards. Families or businesses can define individual controls or alerts for primary cards as well as companion cards that are given to family members or employees providing more real-time control and visibility into spending. For example, a parent can share a Visa account with a child by providing a companion card with spending limits and transaction alerts that are sent to the parent’s mobile device.

Protecting Your Payments

If you’re interested in beefing up the controls tied to your financial accounts, you can contact your bank or issuer to see what types of alerts or features they may offer. You can also minimize the chances of falling victim to credit card fraud by using a new EMV chip-enabled debit or credit card during in-store transactions, sticking to encrypted sites when shopping online and not storing account information on websites.

Remember, no matter what controls you have in place, you should still monitor your credit card or debit card accounts regularly for suspicious charges or fees. If you do spot fraud, contact your issuer immediately to dispute the transactions and to have the card replaced. Finally, if you have any reason to believe your personal information was compromised alongside your payment data, you should monitor your credit. A sudden drop in your credit scores is a sign your identity has been stolen. You can keep an eye on your credit by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.

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