Released: November 28, 2011
2011 Fall Issue: Secured Credit Card Survey
Download: 2011 Fall Issue: Secured Credit Card Survey (CA_News-Fall_2011.pdf)
Table of Contents
- Secured credit cards can help build good credit
- Secured Credit Card Survey at a glance
- Secured Credit Card Survey 2011
- Scouting out a secured card
- Do secured cards carry a stigma?
- Costly calculation
- Secured vs. subprime
- Score one? No way!
- Credit building-options are limited
- 40th Anniversary event mixes maritime with merriment
- 40th Anniversary supporters
- About Consumer Action
Secured credit cards can help build good credit
By Alegra Howard and Ruth Susswein
It’s not easy to build a credit record or to rebuild a damaged credit history. One of the few ways to do it legitimately is with a secured credit card. Consumer Action’s new Secured Credit Card Survey found many secured card options that could be used to build a solid credit record. (Click here to for a PDF of the Secured Credit Card Survey.)
Many people were deeply affected by the financial crisis, and scores of them are still working to put their personal finances in order. Those who lost jobs often fell behind on their bills, and because of this, many people lost their homes to foreclosure. As if that weren’t bad enough, financial troubles often result in damaged credit and lower credit scores, leading to the loss of the financial safety net provided by access to reasonably priced credit.
Secured credit cards are bank credit cards backed by money that you deposit and keep in a bank savings account—as little as $200 for an equal credit line. A “fully secured” card is one with a credit limit that equals the dollar amount in your security deposit. One surveyed bank, Capital One, requires as little as $49 to secure a $200 line of credit, depending on the applicant’s credit.
The deposit account serves as security for the card. If you default (don’t pay your credit card bill for several months) the issuer has the right to cover your debts with the money in the deposit account. You cannot use or withdraw any funds from the security deposit while the secured credit card account is open. (Charges you make with the secured card appear on your statement but are not debited directly from the security account.)
Consumer Action reviewed 13 secured credit card offers from 12 issuers and found a wide range of interest rates on surveyed cards. Four of the surveyed cards had interest rates on purchases below 10% APR, and one charged no interest on purchases because it carried monthly fees (Applied Bank’s Platinum Visa).
The lowest annual percentage rates (APRs) in the survey are 7.99% on HSBC’s Orchard Bank card (but beware its 29.49% penalty rate), 8.99% on Navy Federal Credit Union’s card and 9.99% on cards from Applied Bank and USAA Bank.
Applied Bank’s Platinum Visa, with a permanent 0% interest rate on purchases, seems like a deal, but the bank makes up for interest with $119 per year in “maintenance” fees charged in monthly installments of $9.95. Take a cash advance on that card and you’ll pay a fee of 5% of the amount and interest begins to accrue immediately at 9.99%.
Excluding the 0% Applied Bank card, the average APR on surveyed secured credit cards is 16.60%.
“While rates are low on some secured cards, we caution consumers to check out all fees and to use these cards as credit building tools,” said Consumer Action’s Linda Sherry. “The focus should be on making timely bill payments so you can graduate to a regular unsecured card, rather than carrying a balance.”
Six of 13 issuers paid annual interest on security deposits between 0.50% (U.S. Bank) to 1% (Golden 1 Credit Union). When you pay off and close the account in good standing, the security deposit plus interest, if any, will be returned.
Approval not automatic
Secured credit card applications are not always approved just because you have the money to secure a credit line. Some card issuers limit approval to those who have not been through bankruptcy recently or those who have no recent delinquencies. Many issuers require that there be no late payments recorded on your credit report in the last six months. Wells Fargo requires applicants to have an income of at least $12,000 per year.
Most secured card applications can be completed online or by calling the issuers directly. First Premier Bank only accepts secured card applications online. Citibank, Fifth Third and U.S. Bank require applications be completed at local branch locations. Golden 1 Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA require memberships before applicants are eligible to apply for secured cards.
Most banks required at least $200-$500 to open a secured card account. Maximum deposits ranged from $5,000-$30,000.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo allow security deposits of up to $10,000, HSBC’s Orchard Bank, $15,000, and Navy Federal, $30,000. (As noted, Capital One requires as little as $49 to secure an initial credit limit of $200, depending on the applicant’s credit score.)
Extra deposit, please
Some secured card issuers require that you deposit more money than the credit line that you receive. Golden 1 Credit Union requires 1.5 times the credit limit on deposit—for example, a $375 deposit is required for its minimum $250 credit line.
Cardholders may find that the annual fee reduces their credit limit when it’s posted. For example, on First Premier Centennial Secured Card only $225 of the $300 line of credit would be available until the $75 annual fee is paid.
The key to re-establishing a good credit record is not mysterious; It requires cardholders to make all monthly payments on time and to have that payment history reported to an independent source—the big three credit bureaus—to get “credit” for your responsible behavior.
Most cards surveyed send monthly credit reports to the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Applied Bank sends reports to TransUnion and Experian. (Information about which cards report to major credit bureaus is available in the full Secured Credit Card Survey on our website.) After 12-16 months of on-time payment history, cardholders should have built the credit needed to apply successfully for an unsecured credit card.
Four of the surveyed issuers (Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and USAA) automatically review secured cardholders for eligibility to “graduate” to an unsecured card. In these cases, issuers will notify cardholders that they are eligible to apply for an unsecured card, usually by sending them an unsecured offer in the mail.
Secured Credit Card Survey at a glance
Cards surveyed: 13
Range of interest rates: 0% (Applied Bank Platinum Visa) to 23.99% (Fifth Third Bank Secured MasterCard)
Range of annual fees:
No annual fee (with interest-free grace period: Golden 1 Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union; with no grace period: Applied Bank Gold Visa) to $119 (Applied Bank Platinum Visa)
$200 (Applied Bank, Citi Secured MasterCard and Capital One Secured MasterCard*) to $500 (Applied Bank Platinum Visa and Navy Federal Credit Union)
Interest paid on deposits:
U.S. Bank (.50%), USAA Secured MasterCard (.92%) and Golden 1 Credit Union, CitiBank MasterCard and HSBC Orchard Bank (1%)
* For applicants with an eligible credit history, Capital One’s Secured MasterCard security deposit may be as low as $49 to secure an initial $200 line of credit.
Secured Credit Card Survey 2011
Warning: All rates are subject to change. Before applying for a new credit card, verify all information with the issuer. Please note that Consumer Action does not endorse any of the products in its surveys.
About the survey: The Consumer Action Secured Credit Card Survey was conducted between June-November 2011 by Alegra Howard, Ruth Susswein and Linda Sherry of Consumer Action. Visit the online version of this survey newsletter to download a PDF report with additional details about these cards.
Note: You are prohibited from using Consumer Action’s name or any reference to its surveys in advertising or for any other commercial purpose. © 2011
|Issuer/Card Name (Annual fee)||APR on purchases/cash advances (Variable1 or Fixed)||Grace Period (Interest free period if no prior balance)||Minimum/Maximum Security Deposit||Interest Earned on Deposit?||Automatic Graduation Review?|
|Applied Bank Gold Visa (No annual fee)||9.99% (Fixed)/9.99% (Fixed)||No grace period||$200/$5,000||No||No|
|Applied Bank Platinum Secured/($119 charged monthly at $9.95)||0% (Fixed)/9.99% (Fixed)||No interest on purchases||$500/$5,000||No||No|
|Bank of America Secured Visa ($39)||20.24% (Variable)/24.4% (Variable)||25 days||$300/$10,000||No||Yes|
|Capital One Secured Master Card ($29)||22.9% (Variable)/24.9% (Variable)||25 days||$49, $99 or $2002 for initial $200 line of credit)/$3,000 maximum security deposit||No||No|
|Citibank Secured MasterCard ($29)||18.24% (Variable)/25.24% (Variable)||At least 23 days||$200/$5,000||1%||No|
|Fifth Third Bank Secured MasterCard ($24)||23.99% (Variable)/24.99% (Variable)||At least 21 days||$300/$5,000||Yes (varies by state)||No|
|First Premier Centennial Secured3 ($50)||19.99% (Fixed)/19.99% (Fixed)||27 days||$200/$5,000||No||No|
|The Golden 1 Credit Union Secured Visa (No annual fee)||17% (Fixed)/17% (Fixed)||25 days||$375/$1,500||1%||No|
|HSBC Orchard Bank Secured Visa (No annual fee first year, then $35)||7.90% (Variable)/24.9% (Variable)||25 days||$200 ($375 deposit required)/$15,000||1%||Yes|
|Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured (No annual fee)||8.99% (Variable)/10.99% (Variable)||25 days||$500/$30,000||No||No|
|USAA Secured MasterCard ($35)||9.99% (Variable)/9.99% (Variable)||25 days||$250/$5,000||0.92%||Yes|
|U.S. Bank Secured Visa ($35)||20.99% (Variable)/20.99% (Variable)||At least 24 days||$300/$5,000||0.50%||Yes|
|Wells Fargo Secured Visa ($18)||18.99% (Variable)/23.9% (Variable)||25 days||$300/$10,000||No||Yes|
1Variable rates typically are tied to the Prime Rate, which was at 3.25% during the survey.
2The security deposit depends on applicant’s credit history—those with better credit histories only may be required to secure part of the initial $200 line of credit. If approved, you can deposit additional money, up to $3,000, to secure a larger credit line.
3As of month 13, this card may automatically increase your unsecured credit line and charge you a fee of 25% of the increase.
Scouting out a secured card
By Ruth Susswein
Secured credit cards are as varied as their better-known cousins, regular unsecured credit cards. It used to be that the main difference between secured and unsecured cards was a security deposit but now some issuers have gotten creative with partially secured cards and zero-interest cards with hefty annual and/or monthly fees. It’s rare to find a secured card without an annual fee, but beyond that, rates, fees and terms vary widely.
The best secured card deals to look for have low interest rates and annual fees and pay interest on your security deposit.
When you apply for a secured credit card, you deposit money into a bank account and in return you will receive a credit line that in most cases is equal to your deposit. For example, you send “Issuer of Your Choice” a refundable $500 “security deposit” and you get a credit card with a $500 credit line. The bank keeps your money until you pay off any balance and fees and close the account. If you fail to pay for several billing cycles, the bank considers you a loss and confiscates your security deposit.
Sometimes the issuer gives you more credit than the amount of your deposit. Some issuers increase your line whenever you add to the security deposit account. Watch out for issuers that will increase your credit limit without additional deposits but charge you a hefty fee on each credit line increase.
If you’re looking for a secured card, check the fees and terms carefully, as many are buried in the fine print.
Consumer Action’s Secured Credit Card Survey found annual percentage rates (APRs) of interest as low as 7.90%. If you plan to “revolve” a balance on a secured credit card look for the lowest APR. Ideally, you will pay all transactions in full and on time each month, and use the card just to build a good credit history or improve a damaged credit record.
While issuers may not call it a “grace period” anymore, you’ll want a card that has an interest-free period on purchases you pay in full each month. Pay the bill on time and you’re golden. If you allow the balance to carry over to the next month, you lose the “grace” period and you’ll be charged interest on your existing balance and every purchase from the time you make it.
Fees and more fees
Some banks may charge you just to apply, although we did not find application fees on any of the cards in this survey. (Avoid cards that charge an upfront application or processing fee!)
The monthly fee is another term to avoid. Two surveyed banks, Applied Bank and First Premier, charge monthly (or maintenance) fees and/or credit line increase fees.
Cash advance, foreign transaction, returned payment, over-limit, late and “additional card” fees may exist on secured credit cards.
In past secured credit card surveys, Consumer Action found issuers that would extend a line of credit that was larger than the security deposit. In this survey only Capital One offered to do this, and that is only for applicants who can qualify because of their credit history.
The primary reason to get a secured credit card is to build—or rebuild—a strong credit profile. The one sure way to do that is by paying the card on time each and every month. Ask before you apply if your payment information will be sent to the big three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Even though you have the money to put into a security deposit, you might be prevented from getting a secured card. Some card issuers won’t issue cards to applicants who have filed for bankruptcy in the past year or who have a current delinquency or charged off account on their credit reports.
After one year of timely payments you may be eligible for an unsecured credit card. You may notice that other lenders start to court you with unsecured credit card offers in your mailbox. When you successfully apply for and receive an unsecured card, pay off and close the secured card. Then ask the secured card lender to return your deposit.
After a time, you may receive an unsecured card offer from your secured issuer—if it offers unsecured cards. This is because some secured card issuers automatically review your credit history after you’ve had your secured card for a year or so. These lenders are interested in keeping your business but you may find a better deal by shopping around for a new card with credit unions or community banks.
There is always someone looking to make a buck, so be sure you don’t fall for a scam. Be wary of any company that “guarantees you’ll get a secured card if you pay them a significant fee,” warns Maxine Sweet, vice president of public affairs for Experian. In most cases all you get is a list of companies that offer secured cards, says Sweet. You can get that for free from Consumer Action, Bankrate.com and other sources.
Do secured cards carry a stigma?
When you use a secured credit card in a retail store, you and your issuer are the only ones who know it’s secured. It looks and operates like any other credit card.
According to Experian, one of the big three credit bureaus, secured credit cards aren’t flagged as secured on your credit report. Your secured card account is listed only as a revolving line of credit.
It is essential that secured card issuers report your timely payments to each of the big three bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) as a way to rebuild your credit record. In our Secured Credit Card Survey, we have noted this information for each card in the full survey report. Click here to download the report from our website.
A secured card can help you build a good credit record if you pay the bills on time. If you don't, your credit can suffer.
Secured cards in and of themselves have no detrimental effect on your credit score, according to Fair Isaac Corporation, or FICO, the company that offers the credit-scoring model most widely used by lenders. The same holds true for a Vantage credit score from Experian.
Paying on time
More than one third of your credit score is based on your payment history—so paying your secured or unsecured credit obligations on time is the most important factor in building or rebuilding credit. Recent delinquencies, late payments and failure to repay credit cards and other extensions of credit can damage your credit score and mean that you will pay higher interest rates for credit, mortgages, home-equity loans and auto financing.
To see the difference that a good credit score can make to your bottom line visit myFICO’s Help Center (http://www.myfico.com/HelpCenter/FICOScores) to see a chart that compares various FICO scores with current mortgage, auto and home equity rates. — R.S.
You want to build (or repair) your credit with a secured card but you don’t like the idea of putting down $300 of your own money to get a card with a $300 line of credit. Instead, your eye may stray to an “unsecured” card—one that claims to have “no strings attached,” but may have hidden fees.
All too often, such unsecured cards come with charges that eat up much of your credit line before you even use them. There also may be upfront fees. Here’s one example.
The First Premier Bank Centennial “unsecured” card—no security deposit required—has an annual interest rate of 36%. (This card is not part of our Secured Credit Card Survey.) Before the account even is opened, you’ll be asked to send a $95 processing fee to secure an initial $300 line of credit. When you get your card, the $75 annual fee on the bill reduces your initial line to $225 until you pay it. Add the $95 processing fee you paid and your costs stand at $170—before you even use the card. Year two, you’ll pay a $45 annual fee and a $6.50 monthly service fee ($78 per year) for a total of $123 in second-year fees.
At the start of your second year your account is open to even more problems, because after 13 months the company can automatically increase your credit line—a "deal" you’ll want to avoid.
Buried in the fine print, First Premier explains its 25% “credit line increase fee:” For every $100 the bank adds to your credit line, you pay the bank a $25 fee, leaving you with only an additional $75 worth of credit. Credit line increases—and the 25% fee—are automatically applied to your account and you have to take steps to say “thanks, but no thanks.” In order to reject the increase and request a refund, you must contact the bank within 30 days.
If you carry a balance on the First Premier Bank Centennial “unsecured” card, the interest rate is 36%.
Contrast the First Premier card with a secured card from Wells Fargo, which has an annual fee of $18 and an 18.99% interest rate. Pay off any transactions in full and on time each month and your total costs are $18 per year plus the $300 refundable deposit you put down for a year or so until your credit improves.
Wells Fargo automatically reviews secured accounts after 6-12 months, and every six months thereafter. If your payment history and credit reports meet the bank’s requirements for an unsecured account, the bank will send you an application and you can apply for a new unsecured account.
Bank of America has a secured card with 20.24% interest and a $39 annual fee, and it also reviews secured accounts after 12 months and will notify cardholders if they qualify for unsecured card offers.
So: $18-$29 annual fee with a refundable $300 deposit, or $170 that you will never see again? Not a tough decision. (If you don’t have the $300 for a deposit, you’re better off saving up the money for a security deposit than paying it in fees you’ll never see again.)
Don’t be fooled by “partially secured” offers, either. The non-refundable costs can be just as high.
— Ruth Susswein
Secured vs. subprime
By Ruth Susswein
Secured credit cards—backed by a customer’s own security deposit—are designed for consumers with poor credit histories (or no credit record at all). Consumers who use the cards wisely can be in a position to qualify for a regular, unsecured credit card in a year or so. When they pay off and close the secured card account, the security deposit is returned.
Consumers should avoid the “chief competitor” to secured cards: high fee, low-limit, unsecured subprime credit cards. These so-called “fee harvester” cards have gained a deserved reputation as the bad boys of credit. (These are not among the cards we surveyed.)
While they don’t require a security deposit, subprime credit cards are predatory products with lots of fees that more than earn their nickname, “fee harvester" cards.
“Consumers are better off using a secured credit card than a subprime one even though it requires depositing money with a card company,” says Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s director of national priorities.
In 2008, a company called CompuCredit fell into the regulatory crosshairs with its $300 credit line offered consumers with blemished credit. When cardholders deducted upfront fees, monthly fees and an annual fee, they were left with just $114.50 of the $300 limit even before they used the cards to make purchases.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) charged CompuCredit with deceptive marketing and required it to refund $114 million to customers.
Subprime cards are “like payday loans,” says Lauren Saunders, managing attorney for the National Consumer Law Center. “They offer so very little for a very high price. To consumers, they might look reasonable on the surface, but the ads do not include the tiny amount of credit they provide and the hefty fees that eat into that.”
Fight over fee limits
In the 2009 CARD Act, Congress limited fees on subprime “fee harvester” cards to 25% of the initial line of credit. But the rule suffered a setback in September when a U.S. District court in South Dakota ruled that subprime cards can charge up front application fees before an account is actually opened and that these fees don’t count toward the 25% limit.
Sherry lamented the court’s preliminary injunction on upfront fees. “The lawsuit was filed by a South Dakota company called First Premier that built its business model on subprime cards. It’s clear to us that Congress meant to limit the consumer costs on fee harvester cards. We are surprised that a court saw fit to allow companies to continue to gouge consumers desperate to gain access to credit.”
Harvesting those fees
In researching secured cards, Consumer Action found that First Premier Bank offers some “partially secured” cards that could fit the definition of fee harvester cards. They have 49.99% interest rates with a $75 annual fee AND monthly maintenance fees of $6.50 (waived in the first year). Unfortunately, the CARD Act did nothing to limit credit card interest rates, so 50% interest, while unconscionable, is within the letter of the law.
All the First Premier cards examined by Consumer Action carry a 25% “credit limit increase fee.” After 13 months the bank can increase your credit limit and automatically levy a fee equal to 25% of the increase—without you even asking! In the case of a $100 line increase, the bank will add a $25 fee to the account, which means you’ll get only $75 in additional credit until you pay the fee.
“You can see why they call these fee harvester cards,” notes Sherry. “Steer clear of cards like these, because we found plenty of reasonable secured cards in our survey.”
Consider all costs
Saunders cautions consumers to look very carefully at all the costs related to credit—no matter what type of card it is. She suggests starting the search with your own bank or credit union. “Many credit unions and community banks do not have business models designed around predatory fees and interest. They are looking to build a personal relationship with customers,” notes Saunders.
Score one? No way!
Secured credit cards can help you build or improve your credit score. But there’s a lot of data collecting and scoring going on that consumers may not know about.
Most consumers are aware of credit scores, which use the data in your credit report to help companies predict your likelihood of repaying debt. Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score, but companies also use information to predict other consumer behaviors.
New data sources are being used by lenders to predict income, wealth, rent payment, adjustable mortgage reset timing, which consumers will decide to walk away from loans (“strategic default”) and the timing of key spending and purchases, among other consumer behaviors.
Fair Isaac, the company behind the familiar FICO credit scoring model, offers companies products to predict:
- who may be at risk of not being able to pay their mortgages;
- the risk that insurance applicants or policyholders will make a claim;
- how likely a patient is to adhere to a course of medication; and
- which customers are most likely to file bankruptcy.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of firms offering such predictive data to companies. Experian, known widely as a credit reporting bureau and compiler of consumer credit reports, offers dozens of scoring models, including Debt-to-Income Insight—giving creditors insight into the “debt capacity" of their customers—and Experian TAPS (Total Annual Plastic Spend) to estimate a consumer’s spending on all general purpose credit and charge cards over the last 12 months.
Equifax offers Equifax Decision 360, an “ability to pay” index that draws on diverse sources of consumer data including credit information, income/employment verification, asset/property data, phone and utility payments, “credit capacity scores,” demographics, etc.
ID Analytics, a leader in the field of assessing the risk of fraud in new and existing accounts, offers companies authentication and verification scores to help them “separate legitimate and suspicious identities” during the “identity vetting process.”
Credit-building options are limited
By Michelle De Mooy
Many consumers are unsure how best to build or repair their credit records.
“One of the reasons Consumer Action recommends secured credit cards for building or rebuilding credit is that there are not a lot of alternatives that really work,” said Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action’s executive director. “The best alternative may be a credit-builder program administered by a non-profit organization or credit union.”
It’s frustrating for many consumers who pay their bills on time to companies that aren’t hooked into the credit reporting system. Many utilities or other companies to which you make regular payments may not report your payment history to credit bureaus. Credit bureaus are repositories of monthly consumer payment information that banks and other lenders use to make decisions about granting credit to specific individuals. The big three national credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Building or repairing a credit score requires regular payments on open, active credit accounts, such as bank loans, credit cards (including secured cards), auto loans or mortgages that are reported to credit bureaus. But there are some alternatives that might also help you build a good credit record.
Organizations across the country have created new ways to help low-income consumers build or repair credit. These programs require borrowers to make timely payments, which are reported to the three major credit bureaus.
Sometimes these are called “credit-builder” loans. A bank or credit union may give you a small loan designed to build savings and credit. Depending on the program, there may be interest and fees.
Katie Buitrago, policy associate at the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy organization working on behalf of low-income people, recommends a credit-builder loan combined with matching savings offered by the non-profit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Chicago.
Participants in the program take out a $500 loan at 16% interest for 12 months. The proceeds are placed in a “locked” savings account. Each on-time monthly payment made by the borrower is matched by the nonprofit, resulting in a savings account balance of $500 and another $500 in matching money, plus a year’s worth of a positive payment history.
You could ask a relative or close friend to co-sign for a loan. This would allow you to pay the loan off over time and build a history of responsible on-time payments. Such arrangements can damage family relations and friendships, however, if you don’t pay back the loan because the co-signer must do so or suffer damaged credit.
Another way to build credit is to become an authorized user on a card owned by someone close to you, such as a parent, spouse or partner. The primary cardholder is responsible for the bills. Authorized users build credit when the account is paid on time.
If you are going to be an authorized user on a credit card account, know that if the primary user pays late or not at all, your credit may suffer a setback, too.
If these are not viable options, we’ve found a few inventive programs that might help.
Long used informally among ethnic groups, lending circles allow borrowers to pool their money and loan it to each other. A San Francisco-based non-profit has taken lending circles to the next level, giving the programs the structure they need to allow participants to build credit by reported payments to credit bureaus.
The Mission Asset Project creates groups of eight peers, each contributing $50 a month, which results in a $400 loan to one group member at a time. Instead of a traditional model where one person at a time holds the cash, the money is deposited in a partner bank and group members’ payments are deducted from their checking accounts. The partner bank reports the monthly payments as an installment loan to the credit bureaus.
40th Anniversary event mixes maritime with merriment
By Michelle De Mooy
Consumer Action celebrated its 40th anniversary with a memory-filled event in Washington, DC on Oct. 18. Held at the Naval Heritage Center in downtown DC, the fundraiser was an enormous success, raising $147,760 to support Consumer Action’s work.
More than 140 guests, including members of Congress, government officials, community partners, consumer advocates, industry representatives and Consumer Action staff, mingled amidst a backdrop of maritime history.
The reception included the organization’s annual Consumer Excellence awards for outstanding consumer reporter, legislator and community group. This year’s recipients are Eileen Ambrose, financial correspondent for the Baltimore Sun; Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); and the Opportunities Industrialization Center of DC, a Consumer Action community partner.
In her acceptance speech, Congresswoman Maloney spoke about the impact that Consumer Action has had in helping protect the rights of ordinary Americans.
“Consumer Action was involved in making financial reform happen right from the start,” Maloney said. “They were instrumental in developing the Cardholders Bill of Rights and in getting the historic CARD Act passed.”
Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action executive director, shared his perspective on the organization’s expansion into a national powerhouse over 40 years, with its offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. “We are proud to be here tonight knowing that our work has made a positive difference in people’s lives over the past four decades,” said McEldowney.
He thanked Google, TracFone, Capital One and Microsoft for providing major underwriting support.
40th Anniversary supporters
|40th Anniversary supporters|
40th Anniversary Underwriters
Capital One | Google | Microsoft | TracFone
Citi | Visa
American Express | AT&T | DCI | Dewey Square | DIRECTV | JPMorgan Chase | Time Warner Cable | VantageScore Solutions, LLC
Bank of America | Intel | The Hastings Group
Certified Automotive Parts Association | Eric Starkman & Associates | Venable, LLP | Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP | Western Union | Humana, Inc. | Consumer Attorneys of California | Don Rounds
James S. Beck | Comcast | CUNA Mutual Group | Experian | Future of Privacy Forum | Neil Gendel | Homeownership Preservation Foundation | NYSE Euronext | Sage Communications | Shartsis Friese LLP | Southern California Gas Company | Chris Lewis | Copy Copies
Marsha Cohen | Consumers First, Inc. | Grubb & Ellis | Irene Leech | National Consumers League (NCL) | Nossaman LLP | Public Citizen | Patricia Sturdevant | Susan Weinstock | Debra Berlyn, Consumer Policy Solutions | Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP
About Consumer Action
Consumer Action is a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial literacy and advocating for consumer rights in both the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective, and trusted consumer organizations in the nation.
Financial Education. To empower consumers to assert their rights in the marketplace, Consumer Action provides a range of education resources. The organization's extensive library of free publications offers in-depth financial information, while its hotline provides non-legal advice and referrals. Consumer Action also publishes an unbiased Annual Credit Card Survey that exposes excessive prices and anti-consumer practices to help consumers make informed buying choices and elicit change from big business.
Community Outreach. With a special focus on serving low- to moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers, Consumer Action maintains strong ties to a national network of more than 8,000 community-based organizations. Outreach services include training and free mailings of financial education materials in many languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and others. Consumer Action's rapidly expanding network is the largest and most diverse of its kind.
Advocacy. Consumer Action is deeply committed to ensuring that underrepresented consumers are represented in the national media and in front of lawmakers. The organization promotes pro-consumer policy, regulations, and legislation by taking positions on almost 200 bills per legislative session and testifying at least three times per year. Additionally, its diverse staff provides the media with expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data and victim testimony.
2011 Fall Issue: Secured Credit Card Survey (CA_News-Fall_2011.pdf)
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