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Top Credit Card Stories of 2012

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6. The impact of the CFPB
Cracking down on deceptive telemarketing practices and monitoring credit bureaus shows the power and impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Formed July 21, 2011, the young agency has made strides to help consumers in various ways.

In October, the CFPB proposed a rule to make it easier for stay-at-home spouses to get a credit card by allowing them to rely on shared income when applying for a credit card account, rather than individual income.

In June, the CFPB created a database to take credit card complaints and made this information public, showing which issuers have had the most complaints on their cards and how specific complaints were ultimately handled. The data are searchable by company, consumer ZIP code and type of complaint. Before this, there was no way for consumers to see the complaints or response rate when comparing credit card issuers.

The CFPB reviews each complaint and forwards ones that meet its criteria to the appropriate company for review and resolution. Companies have 15 days to provide a response to each consumer complaint, and most are expected to be resolved and closed within 60 days. The filer can track the progress of a complaint and dispute the resolution provided by the financial institution. If the CFPB finds possible legal violations, it will work with other parts of the bureau to deal with the potential violation. The database does not include private information.

7. Major strides in technology
Technological changes made last year will re-shape the card industry.

A number of products are now on the market that turn smartphones and iPads into credit card readers, allowing independent vendors to accept credit cards in remote locations. Products such as Square, Paypal's Here, Bank of America's (BAC) Mobile Pay on Demand and Groupon (GRPN) Payments are becoming more popular.

Digital wallets showed tremendous growth in 2012. These products make online check-out faster, thus decreasing shopping cart abandonment. Instead of entering a long credit card number and shipping address, customers enter an email address and password and the shipping information is filled in automatically.

American travelers run into complications when card readers in a foreign country do not accept magnetic strip cards, since many have converted to chip technology known as EMV (for Europay/MasterCard/Visa) in which with cards are embedded with a microprocessor chip that encrypts and stores account information. Now banks are slowly adding EMV here.

MasterCard announced plans to test a credit card in the next few weeks in Singapore that contains a built-in LCD display and a keyboard. While functioning as a traditional credit card, the MasterCard Display Card will allow customers to use these unique features to create one-time passwords to buy items online.