The Top Credit Card News Stories of 2016Posted December 28, 2016 in News
2016 was quite a year! There were plenty of surprises. The UK voted to leave the EU in the historic Brexit vote and Donald Trump was elected to the White House. It wasn’t a quiet year for credit cards either. There were plenty of credit card news stories that made headlines. (Choosing the top ones to feature in this article was challenging to say the least!) Without further ado, here are the top three credit card news stories from 2016 and how we came out ahead as cardholders.
The Air Miles PR Disaster
2016 was the year of Air Miles, but for all the wrong reasons. Five years ago, Air Miles quietly introduced a policy that would see unredeemed travel reward points older than five years start to expire January 1, 2017. There was no communication to remind cardholders their points were about to expire. If it wasn’t for a CBC news reporter breaking the story, many cardholders would have seen their points vanish come the new year.
You’d think Air Miles would backtrack on their controversial expiry policy once the media caught hold of it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It took a government bill at the eleventh hour from a Liberal MPP for Air Miles to cancel its policy (just in time for the holiday season, no less).
Although Air Miles cardholders had to go through months of frustration, come the new year all cardholders will be better protected by the government. No longer will reward points be able to expire if left unredeemed. This bill is only in Ontario, but is likely to spread to the other provinces, making this a major win for cardholders nationwide.
Goliath vs. Goliath: Visa and Walmart Spat Over Interchange Fees
Interchange fees have been a major sore spot for retailers in Canada for many years. We pay among the highest credit card interchange fees in the world. Small businesses have long been complaining they’re too costly. Apparently they’re not the only ones.
Retail giant Walmart and Visa got into a spat over interchange fees earlier this year. It started as a war of words before moving to actions. Walmart has stopped accepting Visa at some of its locations, citing excessively high interchange fees.
How will this situation resolve? It’s hard to say, but the big winners should be cardholders. Visa cardholders have already benefited from free groceries for shopping somewhere else besides Walmart. All cardholders will benefit from lower interchange fees overall. Smaller retailers won’t be so squeezed and will be able to pass the cost savings down to you.
Get Your Credit Score For Free
Credit scores have always been a mystery in Canada. That all changed in 2016. Prior to this year, you had to pay for your credit score (up to $24 from Equifax and Transunion). Not anymore. Several fintech companies started offering free credit scores to consumers. Getting your credit score is easy-peasy. All you have to do is verify your identity with a few simple questions and you’ll instantly have access to your credit score.
Consumers are the big winners from this. Not only do we get our credit scores for free, it’s getting us in the good habit of regularly checking our credit and looking for ways to improve it. It would still be nice to be able to receive your credit report instantly online, but baby steps. Hopefully this will happen in 2017.