Economy

Sallie Mae Smart Option student borrowers earn $5.5 million in rewards

Sallie Mae announced earlier this week that its Smart Option student loan customers earned more than $5.5 million back by making on-time payments through a rewards program introduced by the lender in 2010. The Sallie Mae Smart Rewards program rewards customers who make on-time payments on their loans while in school or during their six-month... Read More...

New FICO scoring model weights medical debts less heavily

FICO announced recently that an updated version of its score calculation model will no longer weigh medical debts—which, according to the Federal Reserve Board, account for half of all collections on credit records—as heavily as before. Beginning in the fall, FICO’s new score calculation model, which the company said is “more predictive... Read More...

Philadelphia sees second-largest city decline in homeownership in U.S.

A recent analysis of census data by The Pew Charitable Trusts showed homeownership has fallen off sharply in Philadelphia in recent years, declining more than almost any other large city in the U.S. According to the report, “Homeownership in Philadelphia: On the Decline,” just over half of all of the city’s housing units were... Read More...

Pending home sales slip in June after months of consecutive gains

New data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed a slowdown in pending home sales for the month of June, following three months of consecutive gains. Though pending home sales were down in June, the NAR’s index for pending home sales remains at a level consistent with average activity, according to a NAR press... Read More...

Many homebuyers fail to calculate cost of potential mortgage

A recent poll commissioned by Discover Home Loans showed a large percentage of prospective homebuyers see a home purchase as a good investment, but many have not calculated the potential monthly costs. According to the survey, while 87 percent of people know what kind of property they can afford, just over half—52 percent—of prospective... Read More...

May sees spike in pending home sales across all regions of U.S.

Pending home sales spiked in May amid lower mortgage rates and higher inventory, with increases in pending sales across all four regions of the country. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Pending Home Sales Index based on contract signings rose 6.1 percent in May, though figures remain below last year’s numbers. The... Read More...

GAO: Virtual currencies pose legal challenges, risks to consumers

A report on virtual currencies released last week by the Government Accountability Office showed that while the new development is part of a changing payments system, virtual currencies pose a number of risks to consumers and financial institutions. Virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, are digital representations of value not tied to a central... Read More...

Study: Consumers still lack understanding of overdraft fees

A study from The Pew Charitable Trusts recently showed many consumers still lack an understanding of overdraft fees, and, though the number has declined since 2012, many would rather see a transaction declined than pay an overdraft fee. Last year, bank customers reported paying total overdraft fees averaging $69—the median amount reported was... Read More...

FHFA to reach out to HARP-eligible homeowners in Chicago

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced that it plans to reach out to American homeowners about the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) through a town hall-style meeting in Chicago next week. Next month, on July 8 at Chicago’s Woodson Regional Library in the Washington Heights neighborhood, FHFA Director Mel Watt... Read More...

Parents concerned about impact of student loan debt on children

A survey from Discover Student Loans recentlyshowed that while most parents consider a college education to be valuable, many are concerned about the impact of student loan debt on their children’s future. According to the third annual survey, 85 percent of parents are worried or somewhat worried that student loan debt will affect the ability... Read More...

Advocacy group launches site to recover predatory loan payments

Consumer Financial Advocates, a group aimed at helping consumers recoup money from predatory online lenders, recently launched LoanReverse.com to help facilitate the process for consumers. “Short-term, high interest rate loans have become necessary for many hard-working Americans to meet even their basic needs,” Buckley Carlson, a spokesman... Read More...

Wisconsin DFI checks progress on grant-funded personal finance course

Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) recently visited a Wisconsin Dells school to check progress on a pilot personal finance program that was added to the school’s K-6 curriculum using a state grant. Trinity Lutheran School of Wisconsin Dells, which received a grant of $9,750, was one of 26 schools, including the Adams... Read More...

Bump in consumer lending in April driven by auto sector

Data released by credit reporting agency Equifax last week showed that an increase in consumer lending during the month of April was driven by strong growth in the automotive lending sector. "Auto lending continues to lead the recovery," Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts said. "By any metric you consider, whether new originations, total... Read More...

Discover offers new interest rates, payment options for student loans

Discover announced on Monday new fixed and variable interest rates on new student loans—starting at 5.99 percent and 2.99 percent, respectively. For applications submitted on or after June 1, fixed interest rates will start at 5.99 percent APR for undergraduate, health professions, residency, law and bar exam and MBA and graduate loans.... Read More...

FTC staff submit comments on bills related to DTC auto sales

Members of the Federal Trade Commission’s staff recently submitted comments to Missouri state Rep. Michael Colona (D) and New Jersey state Rep. Paul Moriarty (D) on bills that affect the ability of auto manufacturers to sell cars directly to consumers. In Missouri, H.B. 1124 would expand the current restrictions on direct-to-consumer (DTC)... Read More...

ICBA introduces new jumbo fixed-rate loan product

The Independent Community Bankers Association recently introduced a new jumbo, fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage product designed to help banks assist customers in high-priced housing markets. “While this segment of the housing market is small, it continues to gain strength and community banks are always looking for products that best... Read More...

“Spent: Looking for Change” documentary to highlight financial exclusion

“Spent: Looking for Change,” a documentary narrated by Tyler Perry, will premiere next week, shining light on the lives of millions of Americans who live outside the U.S. financial system. The film, which is sponsored by American Express, will premiere on June 4 on The Young Turks’ YouTube and Hulu channels at 7 p.m. EST. The Young... Read More...

Issa slams USPS proposal to offer nonbank financial services

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, criticized a proposal last week from the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) inspector general to offer nonbank financial services to consumers. In January, the USPS Inspector General’s Office released a white paper that suggested the postal... Read More...

Consumer finance optimism increases slightly in April

The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) and AOL released data last week that showed a slight uptick in consumers’ finance optimism—the result of diminished concerns regarding their financial situation. Last month, the CBA and AOL’s finance optimism index rose slightly to -4.8, coinciding with a two percent decrease in consumer concern... Read More...

Existing home sales rise in April for first time in 2014

Data released on Thursday by the National Association of Realtors showed existing home sales increased for the first time this year in April, accompanied by rising inventory and moderate home prices. Total existing home sales—completed transactions including single-family homes, townhouses and co-ops—rose 1.3 percent to approximately 4.7... Read More...

Youths deposit more than $20 million during CUNA savings challenge

Approximately 95,000 youths deposited a total of $20.5 million last month during the National Youth Saving Challenge sponsored by the Credit Union National Association. Young people deposited, on average, $217 each as part of the challenge, which was held during April—National Financial Literacy Month. Approximately 8,800 new accounts were... Read More...

Retirement attitudes, trends differ across three generations of workers

New research on baby boomers, Generation X and millenials recently released by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) indicates that attitudes towards retirement and trends in retirement are rapidly changing between the three groups. “Experts have long written about the changing retirement landscape over the past century,”... Read More...

Cash losing influence among American consumers

As mobile wallets and other alternative financial services lead American consumers to forego cash in favor of electronic payments, a new survey by Bankrate suggests that the dollar may be losing influence with U.S. consumers. According to Bankrate’s May Financial Security Index, which polled approximately 1,000 adults in the U.S., 40 percent... Read More...

Wells Fargo to offer cash prizes to homebuyers in contest

Wells Fargo announced on Monday that it will give away three $250,000 cash prizes to contestants who submit entries in response to the question, “What makes a place feel like a home?” Using words and a photo or a 30-second video, contests must describe the elements that make a house a home. A panel of judges will review the entries and... Read More...

Large banks gaining on smaller institutions in relationship-based lending

A recent whitepaper released by Sageworks indicates that larger banks may have gained an edge on smaller institutions when it comes to more personalized interaction with the customer, an area considered to be an advantage traditionally held by smaller institutions. The paper pointed to a 2013 study by J.D. Power and Associates that showed gains... Read More...

Mortgage credit availability declines, all-cash sales on rise

Mortgage credit availability fell slightly last month while the number of all-cash sales is on the rise, according to recent data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). The Mortgage Credit Availability Index declined approximately 0.2 percent in April. “There continues to be... Read More...

CFPB report indicates mortgage debt may threaten retirement security

The CFPB released a report on Wednesday that indicated rising mortgage debt may make it more difficult for older Americans to retire and keep up with monthly expenses. According to the report, the number of consumers age 65 and older who owe on mortgages rose 36 percent between 2001 and 2011. Data from the Federal Reserve showed the number of... Read More...

Younger generations reluctant to seek financial advice from parents

A recent poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) indicated that younger generations may not trust their parents when it comes to seeking out financial advice. According to the survey, while more consumers felt comfortable reaching out to their father rather than mother for financial advice, 64 percent said they could obtain... Read More...

Discover rewards student borrowers with cash rewards for good grades

Discover recently launched a new program that will provide undergraduate and graduate student borrowers with a cash reward for earning good grades. The program rewards students who achieve at least a 3.0 grade point average or equivalent with a cash reward equivalent to one percent of the loan amount of each new Discover loan. In order to be... Read More...

Survey: Homebuyers want additional information on purchasing process

A recent survey from Chase showed that while most homebuyers said they were prepared as they entered the homebuying process, a majority indicated they would have liked to know more about the financial details associated with purchasing a home. The survey, “What I Wish I Knew About the Homebuying Process,” showed that 90 percent of... Read More...

SLM Corp. splits into Sallie Mae lending, Navient servicing units

Sallie Mae—formerly SLM Corp.—announced on Thursday the completion of its separation into two companies: a consumer banking unit for education lending and a loan servicing and collection firm. “With a 40-year foundation of experience, today Sallie Mae begins anew as a bank that emphasizes responsible consumer financial practices to... Read More...

Mortgage rates post slight decline in March

Data released by the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) on Tuesday showed a slight decline in mortgage rates during the month of March to reach 4.22 percent—a 0.8 percent decrease from February. Because interest rates are generally locked in between 30 and 45 days before the close of a loan, the March data reflects rates from... Read More...

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