Bank Deals, Checking Accounts, Credit Cards

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Chase is offering special banking options to military families. The Military Banking program is for active and reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Military personnel who have a Chase checking account will automatically be upgraded to a Chase Premier Plus Checking Account. With direct deposit the checking account includes the following features:

  • No monthly service fee
  • Interest earned on account balance
  • No ATM fees for all non-Chase ATM transactions
  • Free checks
  • Free safe deposit box
  • Chase Plus Savings with no monthly service fee and higher interest rates
  • Two additional Chase checking accounts with no monthly service fee
  • No fees for money orders, official checks and travelers checks at branches
  • No fee on wire transfers
  • Insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)

Chase also has credit card offers for military personnel. The Military Star Rewards MasterCard has a 2 percent cash back bonus offer for purchases made the first 60 days the account is open. The Air Force Club Membership MasterCard offers 2 percent cash back at AAFES locations, the exchange and commissary. The Army MWR MasterCard offers 2 percent cash back on base at Force Services merchants, MCCS, MWR, exchange and commissary.

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Some banks are using customers’ shopping habits to generate a new revenue stream. According to CNN, some retailers are using data supplied by banks to send out targeted offers to potential customers. The messages may come via emails, texts or in bank statements. Should you be worried?

According to CNN, “The banks don’t actually hand over your data to retailers. Instead, retailers describe what type of customer they’d like to target and the bank then sends the deal to customers who fit the profile. When the customer cashes in on the deal, the bank gets paid a commission.”

If you are uncomfortable with your data being used in this way, you have the right to opt out. But more banks are using this approach to generate funds, since they get a cut of successful transactions. In fact, such deals are expected to bring in about $1.7 billion to banks by 2015, forecasts research firm Aite Group.

But you may also view these types of programs as incentives for doing business with certain banks. Many people look for credit card offers with rewards programs, and these type of targeted discounts may become more popular with consumers looking for shopping deals.

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Open a Chase Freedom credit card and you could get up to $100 cash back. The deal allows you to earn $100 after spending $500 within the first three months.

The Chase Freedom card has no annual fee and a zero percent introductory rate. If you are late with a payment, the bank will end the introductory interest rate. After that period your interest rate will be based on your credit. The credit card offers from Chase also allow you to earn 5 percent cash back on purchases up to $1,500. The purchases must be made on bonus categories that change each quarter. There also is a 1 percent cash back bonus on all other purchases.

Among the fees you may have to pay with the card is one for $5 or 3 percent of the amount of any balance transfers. The bank also charges a $10 or 3 percent fee for cash advances and 3 percent for foreign transactions. Late payments, going over your credit limit and returned payments each result in a penalty fee of $35.

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After Citigroup revealed that about 200,000 credit card accounts were hacked last month, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is calling for stronger security measures at banks. The security breach comes after recent attacks on other businesses, schools and government agencies.

The hackers gained access to Citigroup customers’ email addresses and account numbers, but were not able to see Social Security numbers, birth dates, credit card security codes and card expiration dates, according to a USA Today article. Citigroup did elaborate too much on the security breach. “For the security of these customers, we are not disclosing further details,” Citigroup spokesman Sean Kevelighan said.

Security at banks and other financial firms has become a source of concern to many consumers. When information is stolen by hackers, consumers are at risk of identity theft, which has emotional and financial costs. Identity thieves can use consumer’s information to wipe out bank accounts, open new credit cards and do other significant financial damage.

Citigroup is contacting customers who might have had data stolen. But if you have one of the bank’s credit cards and are concerned about security, contact the company to get more information about your account and what kind of protection is place in case identity theft occurs.

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Using a business credit card could open you up to some of the problems that were addressed by the passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. Although the CARD Act created more transparency for consumers who take advantage of credit card offers, business cardholders may still be subject to harmful practices such as unpredictable pricing, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Among the harmful practices, banks and other credit card lenders can change the terms of business credit card agreements at any time, including rate changes. The CARD Act does not allow consumer credit card terms to be changed during the first year, and after that, cardholders must be given 45 days notice. Penalty rates on business cards can be applied immediately, while consumer cards don’t allow penalty rates to kick in until an account is 60 days past due. There also is no restriction on penalty fees for business cards.

People who use business credit cards that are not transparent about terms and conditions may run a huge financial risk because they are personally liable for the expenses. American households receive about 10 million business credit card offers each month, most of which have terms that would be illegal for consumer credit cards, according to Pew.

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