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March 10th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How are rising gas prices affecting your way of life?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In case you hadn't noticed, it may soon be cheaper to buy whiskey than gasoline. Thursday morning the national average price for a gallon of gas stood at $3.53. That's an increase of 39 cents over the last three weeks alone, according to the Energy Department.

And it's not going to get better any time soon. The government predicts the average family will spend $700 more for gasoline in 2011 than in 2010, a 28% increase from last year. That's no small chunk of change when the median household income in this country is about $49,000 a year.

So how high will it go? According a new Gallup Poll, 37% of Americans think prices will hit $3.75 – $4 a gallon in their area. More than a quarter of Americans think gas prices will exceed $5 a gallon. Only 8% of Americans think gas will be less than $3.75.

But before we collectively hyperventilate over this news consider this: In Europe most people pay the equivalent of $7.50 to $8 a gallon. In Greece, gasoline costs about $8.45 a gallon.

The cheapest gas is in OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Egypt because it's heavily subsidized by the governments there.

Here’s my question to you: How are rising gas prices affecting your way of life?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Gas Prices
March 10th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Should banks be able to set spending limits on debit cards?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

One of the largest consumer banks is thinking about putting its customers on a budget. According to a new report from CNNMoney.com, JPMorgan Chase is considering capping purchases you make with a Chase debit card at $50 or $100.

That's because new laws are going into effect this summer as part of Wall Street reform legislation that will limit how much a financial institution can make off your debit purchases.

Right now banks charge merchants something called an interchange fee every time you use your debit card. Those fees bring in about $16 billion for the banks each year and about $0.44 for each purchase you make. If the new limits take effect in July as scheduled, the banks would make just $0.12 per transaction. So being the crafty creatures that they are, they have decided if they limit your purchase amount, it will force you to do more transactions, and presto – they don't wind up losing a dime. Not exactly reform from the consumer's point of view.

Banks say the higher fees are necessary to cover the costs associated with debit cards. So they are playing around with some options:

Bank of America and Chase both say they are testing out adding monthly fees to checking accounts – up to $15 a month in some states if you're a Chase customer. Chase is also floating the idea of $3 monthly fees for just owning a debit card; and they may also consider that cap on individual debit card purchases.

Representatives from HSBC and Wells Fargo declined to comment on plans to add fees to their debit accounts. A Citi spokesman says the bank does not have any plans for additional consumer fees at this time.

Of course, the bank and credit card lobbyists are fighting this tooth and nail – and a new bill being introduced this week in the Senate by Democrat Jon Tester of Montana will try to delay those fee limits being put on banks. However it sorts itself out, be assured of this: The banks will get theirs.

Here’s my question to you: Should banks be able to set spending limits on debit cards?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy