Magazine article American Banker

Plan Prods Consumers to Pay off Their Debts

Magazine article American Banker

Plan Prods Consumers to Pay off Their Debts

Article excerpt

Hoping to capitalize on the perception that consumer borrowers are overextended, Bankcard Holders of America is offering a service that encourages credit card customers to accelerate their debt payments.

For $10 the Hemdon, Va., advocacy group is offering Debt Zapper, which tells cardholders how much money they will save by increasing their monthly installments, and how much those higher payments will shorten their repayment terms.

The report, delivered by mail, is based on software called Zilch, developed by Practical Applications of Laurel Bay, S.C.

"We are providing a service to people who don't own computers,"' said Gerri Detweiler, executive director of Bankcard Holders.

The 75,000-member group tested the offering at the beginning of this year. The official release came on Wednesday.

Revolving Debt on the Rise

The offering comes at a time when revolving debt, which includes credit cards, has been growing steadily, even as overall consumer debt has been leveling off.

Federal Reserve data show that revolving credit at the end of May was $264 billion, up from $247 billion last May.

A survey recently conducted for American Express Travel Related Services Co. showed 11% of cardholders make only that the minimum payment each month, and 32% sometimes pay the minimum.

The American Banker's consumer surveys in the past two years have shown a growing disenchantment with debt. Increasing numbers of consumers said that they believed debt levels are generally too high and that they were trying to save more.

Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N. …

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