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Credit Card Applications » News » Other » Study finds that Credit Card Fees Transfer more Money to Wealthy

Study finds that Credit Card Fees Transfer more Money to Wealthy

August 14, 2010
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A recent study released by the Boston Federal Reserve last July 26 shows that credit cards could widen the gap between the poor and the rich with its fees and rewards programs, in which it acts to implicitly transfer wealth from lower-income consumers to higher-income consumers.

The researchers involved in the study, called the "Who Gains and Who Loses from credit card Payments Theory and Calibrations", argue that consumer welfare would likely increase if card rewards and merchant fees would be reduced.

Merchants usually mark up prices for their consumers instead of charging different prices for credit cards users that would recover the costs of rewards and fees. And this would result in consumers, most likely those with lower incomes, subsidizing other consumers like them who pay with credit cards and end up paying more for buying everyday goods.

American consumer data shows that consumers with a low income are less likely to own and use a credit card, and even those that do have cards spend less than high earners per month on average. Meanwhile, high-income credit are more likely, about 20% more, to win credit card rewards such as cash back rebates, frequent flier miles, and other similar benefits.

According to the researchers of the study Scott Schuch, Oz Shy, and Joanna Stavins, that most consumers are not aware that their using of credit cards to make payments would involve a great number of processes such as retail prices increases, merchant fees, income transfer from cash to card users, and a transfer from lower-income consumers to higher-income consumers.

The researchers found that over 83% of revenues that banks get from credit card fees are taken from cash payers, and especially from lower-income cash payers whom they take disproportionately from.

They also found that, after they have accounted for the rewards paid by the banks, the households who earn an average of more than $150, 000 yearly receive a $756 subsidy on average annually. Meanwhile, those households who earn $20, 000 or less than that amount yearly pay around $23.

The financial regulatory reform that had been signed into law only last week grants the Federal Reserve the responsibility to regulate fees that are associated with debit cards, but unfortunately not for credit cards.

The researchers stated that this process of transferring fund from lower-income consumers to higher-income consumers that their study had pointed out might be something that American consumers, policy-makers, and businesses might be a concern that they wish to deal with.

The researchers also suggest policy-makers could consider ways to put different pricings on each payment method, fee transparency, and fee regulation, if ever banks and merchants would not take any action to reduce the transfer of wealth phenomenon.

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  • Larry
    With the Virgin / Barclaycard signature offer, there seems to be some consumer deception or maybe even outright fraud goin on.   I decided to jump on this offer..  read all the info on it..  was approved for their platinum card, paid the fee, then was only awarded 10,000 points instead of the advertised 20,000.   When i inquired about the less than advertised bonus points, Barclaycard claims only Signiture Visa cardmembers get the 20,000..  as a platinum cardholder, you don't qualify for that level of bonus, so you get 10k instead.   Well, in their current ongoing promotions, it states plain as day that....    Applicants approved for the Visa Signature or Platinum Card with $49 annual fee will receive 20,000 Bonus Points awarded to your Virgin America Rewards Account at the close of the first billing statement in which you make your first purchase or balance transfer (that is not returned or rescinded) and have paid the Annual Fee on the account (and such fee is not rescinded). They don't mention anything about a separate program for platinum cardholders..  However, trying to get someone to resolve this issue with either Virgin or Barclaycard seems to be rather impossible.. Seems to me they're simply drawing people in with the fraudulent offer, then simply saying, oh, we're sorry you don't qualify..  but thanks for signing up for our garbage credit card with insane fees..   
  • CreditLandCom
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have reviewed this offer and you are correct, nowhere it is mentioned that 20,000 Bonus can become a 10,000 Bonus all of a sudden... We will mention this in our review of this card so others can make an informed decision. Another way to get Virgin miles is to get an American Express charge card: The Business Gold Rewards Card® now offers 50,000 Miles, though you do have to spend $5,000 in the first three months of card membership to get it. It also has $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175. http://www.credit-land.com/details/the-business-gold-rewards-card-from-american-express-open.php Premier Rewards Gold Card now offers 25,000 Miles, though you do have to spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership. It also has annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175. http://www.credit-land.com/details/american-express-premier-rewards-gold-card.php While we do not know If any of these offers make sense to you, we are at least sure that you will get advertised bonus in full if you decide to get them... Conversion rates for Virgin America are: 100 Elevate Points = 200 Membership Rewards® Points All the best.
  • Deborah Ellsworth
     would very much like to start a new credit history  by making payments on time I would tohave a credit card that is NOT PREPAYID! I don't need a card with a high limit just something to start a new credit history. Thank You Deborah Ellsworth
  • Deborah Ellsworth
    I would very much like to start a new credit line to get back on track. I DO NOT WANT A PREPAID CARD!! This new credit card if I am approved does not have to hace a high limit just something for me to start over again and prove myself ThankYou. D Ellsworth
  • Miss Edna
    there is a huge problem with the RFIP chip: it is easily compromised. There are already 'readers' in the form of what looks like a cellphone in a case, that scans all the info in the chip by merely walking near a person -- this 'reader' penetrates leather, cloth, spandex, etc. The only thing it will NOT penetrate is METAL. Perhaps one has seen commercials touting metal credit card cases. Here is my hint for a free fix: cut a piece of aluminum foil or use the foil that is used to keep foods fresh, like coffee. Cut it so that when folded once, it forms a sleeve for your credit card. place the credit card in the sleeve, then place the sleeve in your wallet.
  • Robin Parks
    I am looking to apply for the AARP Visa signature card from Chase that offers $100 after spend $500 in first 3 months, no annual fee and 0% interest first year; I don't want to mail in offer because of having to write in Social security #. Can you direct me to the proper on-line site?
  • CreditLandCom
    The Chase bank cards are not currently available at Credit-Land.com, but you can consider applying for the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $100 Cash Back. The cards has similar terms and cash back program.
  • Becky
    This is Becky Now what do I do just waqit for acard to come to me?
  • CreditLandCom
    Once you have applied, you should receive a letter within 10 business days letting you know if you were approved and when your card will arrive. If you did not receive any letter or notification from the issuer, you should contact them directly. Also, you should contact the issuer if you’ve been waiting for your credit card longer than 30 days. Since we are not a bank and don’t issue credit cards, we cannot give you any information about your application or credit card.
  • SavingStar
    Thank you for posting about SavingStar. Just to clarify one sentence in your article, we have over 5 million members (not 500). Thanks, Josh
  • CreditLandCom
    Sorry for the misprint. We’ve corrected the sentence. Thank you for noticing that.
  • Eric
  • John Stifler
    I think almost all people that familiar with internet, will hardly fall to these scams, but for now, I think people that use computer but don't familiar with internet things, and they has a phone line at their home, they should be warned more than internet users. I think senior people usually got scammed by these kind of "tech support" scams. Found so many reports about them since years ago at complain board sites like http://callercenter.com. We as younger, and know more about this stuff, should help and share information to they who needed it, especially older people.
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