By Willy Staley  Updated on Mon Jul 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap: To Be Simple Is To Be Great

 

Each day when you turn on your laptop or scroll through your phone, you’re subject to an unending stream of data. Information, much of it entirely useless, is constantly refreshing in your various feeds. This can make it hard to get anything done, at times. We would certainly not be the first to point out that it is deeply ironic that we have used technology that could likely fly us to Mars to do so many profoundly useless things. This week, the news was better on this front: things actually got simpler in the world of tech and personal finance.

Perhaps the shining example this week was Billeo, Billeo announced a new service called ZipThru Buy that allows shoppers to buy with just one click on a number of online marketplaces. Along with this product, Billeo launched ZipThru Pay which allows banks with unsophisticated online banking systems to enable simple online bill pay. Also in online payments this week, we met Kurrenci — an online currency of sorts with a less anti-statist bent than BitCoin. That said, it’s not exactly that simple…

We met Wallaby this week, too. Wallabies, as everyone knows, are like little kangaroos. And like kangaroos, wallabies are marsupials and they carry their young in their pouch, though children and breakfast cereal marketers like to envision them carrying all sorts of stuff in there. This is likely the roundabout logic that gave the name to the Wallaby card, which is a swipeable card that carries all your other cards inside it. Well not inside it literally, but electronically. When you swipe your Wallaby, it picks out the optimal card for you to charge based on rewards, rates, and the like. That’s pretty amazing, but it comes with a price: $50 a year.

A regional bank in the Midwest, TCF Bank, did extensive marketing research in recent months and came to a shocking conclusion: people would like to have a free checking account. This stunning discovery led the bank to bring back its free checking account, which had gone away in 2010 in the run-up to the Durbin amendment. The account has no minimum balance or monthly fees. That’s it: simple.

And Wells Fargo finally responded to consumer advocacy groups calls for simpler fee disclosure forms, and recently began using a form that makes the costs of a checking account at Wells Fargo clearer to customers, like the Pew Charitable Trusts’ model disclosure form, which has been adopted by Chase.

But no matter how much more simple we make things, consumers need to stay on top of their own affairs. We learned this week that a stunning 60 percent of Gen Y-ers don’t know their credit score. They have no clue! This stuff is important to know even if it isn’t any fun. We attempted to educate at least a little bit on that topic this week: Jeanine wrote about three payment methods you might think build your credit, but don’t, and we talked about why you should raise your credit limit especially when you don’t need the money.

On the other hand, you might not need to worry about your credit limit at certain stages in your life.

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