May 2013

American Travel Industry Predicts Slow Summer Season

With most families still recovering from the recession, the summer travel industry is unlikely to witness massive crowds of vacationers as it did in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Economists anticipate that summer travel will mirror the state of the US economy. People who recovered from the economic downturn through stock investments, low mortgage debt, and rising home prices can afford more lavish getaways.

30 Year Mortgage Rates Reach Highest Level Since Early 2012

Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, suggested last week that federal stimulus could be withdrawn sooner than forecast if the US economy continues to improve.  The comments drove up average 30 year fixed mortgage rates to 3.9 percent as of May 24.  30 year rates are now 31 basis points higher than at the beginning of the month.

April Home Sales Data Improves Economic Forecast

Over the last few years, American homeowners have cautiously awaited a housing recovery.  As new data points to improving strength in the housing sector, more people are confident that the page has turned from the housing collapse, and a full recovery is blooming with the spring season.

Student Loan Debt Exceeds $1 Trillion

Across the US, nearly one-third of all 20 to 24 year old Americans are unemployed, and the number of overdue student loans is at an all time high.  According to the US Department of Education, the value of outstanding student loans surpassed $1 trillion this year, making student loans the largest segment of total US consumer debt, outside of home mortgages.

Rapper Supposedly Fakes Death To Avoid Credit Card Debt

Former 1990s East Coast rapper Timothy Blair, known by his stage name ‘Tim Dog,’ allegedly used a cunning strategy to get out of debt.  The former rapper reportedly faked his death to avoid his legal settlements, according to one Mississippi woman owed thousands of dollars.

Ben Bernanke Signals End Of Record Low Mortgage Rates In Sight

The US housing recovery is relying on near record low mortgage rates to entice buyers into entering the market.  But testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier this week is interpreted by some economists and investors as the beginning of the end for record low rates.

Credit Card Settlement Rejected, Swipe Fees Remain In Question

Many of the country’s largest retailers opted out of a legal settlement with Visa and MasterCard this week.  The retailers are reportedly unsatisfied with the terms of the settlement, and plan to launch their own lawsuits against the credit card companies.  Credit card users are stuck in the middle, and will ultimately pay the final price for higher credit card swipe fees.

Capitalizing On Rewards Credit Cards

Americans are intrigued by cash back rewards credit cards, and the latest statistics indicate that over 57 percent of rewards cards in the US are cash back rewards.  But many young Americans don’t understand how cash back rewards cards really work, and how to make the most of their benefits.

National Mortgage Applications Drop As Rates Spike

Fewer Americans applied for mortgages over the last two weeks, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).  The reduced activity includes new home loan applications as well as mortgage refinancing.

As of May 17, the number of new mortgage applications declined nearly 10 percent in comparison to the previous week.  At the same time, the number of refinancing applications fell nearly 12 percent.  The MBA notes that the declining loan applications and requests indicate fewer new homes are selling as mortgage rates begin to rise.

Driving Record Fact-Checking Site Helps Lower Car Insurance Rates

The website helps drivers across the US access their driving records to keep their profiles up to date and accurate.  Spokespeople for the website believe the database helps drivers save money on car insurance and avoid rip-offs.

Car insurance companies determine their rates based largely on the driving records of the insurance applicants.  A good driving record usually results in lower car insurance rates, while a poor record with numerous accidents or speeding tickets on file will typically increase rates.