The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 Weekly Credit Card Update — August 27, 2021

Weekly Credit Card Update 2021 08 27
Bill Hardekopf

Written by: Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf
Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is Senior Industry Analyst at CardRates, bringing two decades of experience in the credit card business to our audience. For 18 years, he was the Chief Executive Officer of, a free resource that helped consumers navigate the complex world of credit cards. He is a weekly contributor to Forbes and has written numerous articles for sites like The Street and The Christian Science Monitor. He has been cited in more than 100 financial publications, including The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, USA Today, Newsweek, Kiplinger, and Barron’s. He is also the co-author of the book "The Credit Card Guidebook". Bill received his Bachelor of Science and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California.

Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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For media inquiries on these stories and more, contact credit card expert and industry analyst Bill Hardekopf at (205) 985-9725 or

1. Americans Have Less Credit Card Debt in 2021


According to TransUnion’s Q2 2021 Industry Insights Report, credit card balances have decreased by 4.1% year-over-year. Reduced spending meant that consumers were able to put more money toward paying down revolving credit balances.

In fact, the average card balance among millennials declined to $4,277 this year, slightly less than the $4,471 average in 2020. A similar decline can also be seen among the Gen X and Baby Boomer generation; the average balance among Gen X’ers is now down to $6,359 from $6,919, and the average balance among Baby Boomers declined from $5,777 to $5,317. Gen Z was actually the only generation to see a slight rise in their average credit card balance in the first half of 2021; the number rose slightly from $1,522 to $1,616.

• Story By: Jasmin Suknanan, CNBC

2. Citi Blurs the Line between Credit Cards and BNPL Solutions with New Spot Card

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Citi will launch a buy now, pay later (BNPL) card dubbed Spot in Australia through a partnership with Diners Club. Unlike many BNPL providers, Citi doesn’t have to worry about forging retail partnerships because its card can be accepted at most points-of-sale.

Citi will likely bring the Spot card to other markets if it’s well-received in Australia, and the newest iteration of BNPL solutions could shake up the global installment lending landscape. Issuers that aren’t already involved in the BNPL space — like Capital One, which has a strained history with BNPL services — might follow Citi’s lead with their own BNPL card launches.

• Story By: Adriana Nunez, Business Insider

3. Why Did OnlyFans Ban Sexually Explicit Content? It Says it’s the Credit Card Companies

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OnlyFans’ decision to stop hosting a wide swath of sexually explicit content is also a result of a much wider and concerted crackdown in recent years across explicit parts of the internet, one driven largely by a group of powerful and increasingly assertive companies: the payment processors who, behind the scenes, handle every swipe of your credit card whether you’re paying for gas, buying groceries or, yes, tipping a performer on OnlyFans.

OnlyFans’ decision to attribute its policy change to payment companies reflects how the financial sector has increasingly leaned against sites that share adult content. But the issue, they say, is not one of mere prudishness, but legal exposure.

• Story By: Brian Fung, CNN

4. Apple Pay Accounted for 92% of US Mobile Wallet Debit Transactions in 2020

Apple’s payments service accounted for 92% of all mobile wallet debit transactions in the U.S. last year. Pulse’s annual 2021 Debit Issuer Study shows about two billion mobile wallet debit transactions were conducted in 2020 using either Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay. That figure is up 51% year-over-year.

The study found average ticket size increased 55% from $15 in 2019 to $23 in 2020. Consumers made fewer purchases but those transactions were larger, a change credited to pandemic spending patterns. Apple Pay’s success in 2020 can in part be chalked up to fairly wide retail adoption. Of the top 100 U.S. merchants, 74 accepted the payment option and 65% of all retail locations in the nation supported the service.

• Story By: Mikey Campbell, Apple Insider

5. Outgoing New York Governor Signs New Bill Aimed at Addressing Overdrafts

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Prior to his resignation from office, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that New York’s state-chartered financial institutions to process checks in the order they are received, or from smallest to largest, to prevent consumers from racking up fees for overdrawing their accounts.

Under the current law, state-chartered institutions can reject the subsequent smaller checks, even if there are sufficient funds in the account to cover those expenses. The new law is scheduled to take place on Jan. 1, 2022.

• Story In: CU Today

6. Why Mastercard is Stripping the Stripe from its Credit Cards

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Mastercard announced plans to remove the black magnetic stripe from all of its credit and debit cards. The stripe will become optional for new cards in 2027, then vanish by 2033. While neither Visa nor American Express has announced any plans to ditch the stripe themselves, there’s a variety of reasons why it’s probably a matter of time.

The magnetic stripe can degrade or even demagnetize over time, forcing the owner to replace the card. It’s also not very secure. Industrious thieves have long used tiny “skimmers” that can be placed inside legitimate payment terminals to harvest your data. That information can be used to commit fraud or even clone your card for their personal use.

• Story By: Christina Majaski, Yahoo Finance

7. Companies are Hoarding Cash as the Delta Variant Takes Over the Globe

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Apple, Google and other big companies around the world are continuing to add to their massive piles of cash, a sign that corporations are increasingly nervous about how the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 could damage the global economy.

The world’s largest nonfinancial companies had a record $6.85 trillion in cash on their balance sheets as of the end of the second quarter. Tech giants in particular are hoarding cash. Apple, Microsoft and Google owner Alphabet have a combined $460 billion in cash on their balance sheets. Amazon has nearly $90 billion. Facebook has more than $64 billion, too.

• Story By: Paul R. La Monica, CNN

8. Six Most Important Financial Skills Students Should Be Learning in School

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Kids learn a lot of important skills in school, even before heading off to college. But for some reason, personal finance usually isn’t one of them. Though knowing the Pythagorean theorem can certainly come in handy during adulthood, some argue that concepts such as saving money and managing debt are equally, if not more, useful.

But until these money concepts are part of the standard curriculum, it’s up to the adults in students’ lives to teach them. Wondering where to start? We reached out to money experts to find out which financial skills they believe every student should learn.

• Story By: Casey Bond, GoBankingRates

9. 62% of Consumers See Card Choice as Way of Improving Credit Scores Logo

The July 2021 Credit Score Literacy and Building Credit Report by PYMNTS found 70% of surveyed consumers think their credit scores are “above average” while just 45% have scores over 751, the above-average mark according to national credit reporting data.

The study quickly identifies credit’s pressing perception problem. Despite this, researchers also found widespread consumer support for efforts to improve credit scores and credit worthiness, stating 62% of consumers want to raise their scores, including a 41% share who say they are very or extremely interested in doing so, and another 29% who are very or extremely concerned about their credit scores.

• Story In: PYMNTS

10. Visa’s 54 Bitcoin-Linked Cards Pave the Way for Younger Generations to Spend Growing Crypto Wealth

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Visa is taking robust steps to connect digital currencies to its global electronic payments network in order to prepare for a financial future where digital assets comprise a meaningful amount of a saver’s wealth. To date, 54 crypto companies have partnered with Visa to enable crypto spending. 

Crypto-linked Visa debit cards facilitated over $1 billion worth of transactions across Visa’s 70 million merchants worldwide in the first half of 2021 alone. Survey data suggests that younger generations are increasingly diverting wealth into cryptocurrencies and digital assets. This is especially true for the most affluent members of these generations, which are especially prized by financial institutions and card networks. 

• Story By: Emily Mason, Forbes

11. The Secret Bias Hidden in Mortgage-Approval Algorithms

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An investigation by The Markup has found that lenders in 2019 were more likely to deny home loans to people of color than to white people with similar financial characteristics — even when we controlled for newly available financial factors that the mortgage industry has in the past said would explain racial disparities in lending.

Holding 17 different factors steady in a complex statistical analysis of more than 2 million conventional mortgage applications for home purchases reported to the government, we found that, in comparison to similar white applicants, lenders were 80% more likely to reject Black applicants; 70% more likely to deny Native American applicants; 50% more likely to turn down Asian/Pacific Islander applicants; and 40% more likely to reject Latino applicants.

• Story By: Emmanuel Martinez and Lauren Kirchner, Associated Press

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