Wilmington, DE–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–March 10, 2008–Chase Card Services, the credit card division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), is donating an additional $1.3 million through its Financial Literacy Grant Program to organizations across the country to help more Americans understand and take control of their finances during today’s uncertain economy.
“Knowing how to manage your finances is an important skill throughout your life, but especially during times of economic uncertainty,” said Jeff Courtney, senior vice president, Customer Support Division, Chase Card Services. “Fortunately, there are a variety of qualified organizations to provide assistance, and our Financial Literacy Grant Program is intended to improve awareness of those resources. We hope these grants will help people across the country get the information they need to increase their financial literacy, improve their financial situations and, as a result, their overall economic stability.”
According to a recent survey by Freddie Mac and Roper Public Affairs and Media, 57 percent of late-paying borrowers still do not know lenders may offer workout options to help avoid foreclosure. However, borrower confusion is not limited to mortgages, but can extend across the financial industry.
“We are grateful for Chase’s commitment to financial literacy through their Financial Literacy Grant Program,” said Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). “By supporting NFCC Member Agencies across the country, these grants will directly help the many consumers who are in need of quality financial education and counseling services.”
Chase’s Financial Literacy Grant Program, now in its third year, gives consumers greater access to information, credit counseling services and the support resources that they need to take control of their finances and improve their financial health and stability. With its donation this year, Chase has provided $3.9 million in the past three years to more than 90 organizations. The nationwide program is part of the ongoing commitment by Chase to support financial education and literacy for people of all ages, so they can keep their finances in check while pursuing what really matters in their lives.
This year’s grants will be sent to more than 30 organizations, including credit counseling agencies and consumer financial research groups. Chase grant recipients, such as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc., the Young Women’s Christian Association in El Paso, TX, and the Consumer Credit and Budgeting Counseling in Marmora, NJ, will use the grants directly for consumer education, community outreach and awareness programs, and for conducting research to design more effective financial literacy programs. There are also grant recipients like Take Charge America in Phoenix, AZ, a program that provides basic financial and budgeting education to high school students.
Each grant recipient is selected based on criteria that distinguish them among qualified credit counseling agencies that are providing valuable service and education to consumers both within their communities and throughout the country.
Chase Offers Long-term Support to Financial Literacy and Smart Credit Use
In addition to the Financial Literacy Grant Program and other financial literacy contributions, Chase offers a variety of resources for consumers on its Chase Clear & Simple Web site (http://www.chaseclearandsimple.com) to help them better manage their personal finances and use credit wisely. For customers, Chase provides a number of tools, policies and account management options to help customers gain greater control of their accounts, avoid fees and maintain their best interest rates, including:
— Clear pricing practices: Chase will not increase interest rates for cardholders solely based on credit-bureau information.
— Over-limit Controls: Customers can protect their accounts against over-limit fees by adding customized “controls” to their accounts that contain their spending within their credit limit.
— Customized Payment Due Date: Chase customers can select their own payment due date, choosing the date that is most convenient for them
— Free Account Alerts: To help customers avoid fees, Chase will send free reminders by e-mail, telephone or text message when a payment due date is approaching or when spending is nearing a credit limit.
Consumer Tips for Dealing with Financial Stress
Chase encourages consumers who are experiencing financial stress to reach out to their creditors or a certified credit counselor for solutions. The NFCC offers some basic tips to help customers avoid and better manage their debt:
— Track your expenses. To find money available for savings, first determine where you are currently spending your money. Write down every cent you spend. At the end of the month, take a look at where your hard-earned cash really goes.
— Create a budget and customize it to fit your lifestyle. A well-designed spending plan considers all sources of income, living expenses, debt obligations, and savings. Be sure to incorporate all three expense categories – fixed expenses (e.g., mortgage, auto loans and rent), variable expenses (e.g., credit cards, groceries, entertainment, clothes and gasoline) and periodic expenses (e.g., property taxes, home repair, and car maintenance).
— DON’T start charging when there is no money. If you have no money left after paying your bills, you may be headed for trouble. It is not a good idea to routinely rely on your credit card to pay for living expenses when you don’t have the cash available. As a general rule, you should not be spending more than 20 percent of your take-home income on credit card bills or loans, and this includes your car payment.
— DON’T apply for new credit cards simply because you’ve reached the credit limit on existing cards. When your cards are taken to the limit, it is time to pay off the balance and adjust your spending habits – not apply for more cards.
— DO make more than the minimum credit card payment. The NFCC recommends paying at least double the minimum required payment.
— DO reduce expenses wherever possible. Look for no or low-cost entertainment and cut back on other day-to-day spending. Small reductions in daily spending quickly add up to big savings. Trimming $5 from your daily expenses adds up to more than $1,800 over the course of a year!
— DO work with your creditors. If you encounter any problems repaying your debts, contact the creditor immediately and explain the situation. Creditors often will work with you to come up with an alternate payment arrangement.
— Get to know your credit report better. Dedicate spring cleaning time as the annual time to review your credit report, which you can get for free at http://www .annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. A credit report contains information about your credit and loan history, including amounts and payment history and is used extensively by potential lenders to evaluate your credit worthiness. Read each report carefully as there may be discrepancies between the three credit bureaus. If you find errors, file a dispute with the credit bureau.
— DO seek help from a credit counselor. If you have been unable to resolve your finances on your own, consider working with an NFCC certified credit counselor to create a plan you can live with, one that helps you budget your money and repay your debt. An NFCC member agency can customize a spending plan that fits your lifestyle. Contact an NFCC member agency near you, call 1-800-388-2227, or log onto http://www.nfcc.org.
As a leader in the financial community, Chase offers customers what matters most to their financial well-being. Chase pledges advocacy, access, protection, recognition, and value for its customers’ financial needs.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $1.6 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management, and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase serves millions of consumers and businesses in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its JPMorgan and Chase brands. Information about the firm is available at http://www.jpmorganchase.com.
**Please see the following addendum for 2008 grant recipients.
Addendum A – Chase Card Services 2008 Financial Literacy Grant Recipients
— Auriton Solutions of Roseville, MN
— Family Counseling Center of Brevard of Melbourne, FL
— CCCS of Buffalo, Inc. of West Seneca, NY
— LifeSpan, Inc. of Hamilton, OH
— Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota of Duluth, MN
— Family Service Association of Greater Elgin Area of Elgin, IL
— Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area, Inc. of Huntington, WV
— Cumberland Community Action Program, Inc. of Fayetteville, NC
— CCCS of Forsyth County, Inc. of Winston-Salem, NC
— CCCS of Greater Dallas of Dallas, TX
— CCCS of New Orleans of New Orleans, LA
— CCCS of Greater San Antonio of San Antonio, TX
— Family Foundations of Northeast Florida, Inc. of Jacksonville, FL
— By Design Financial Solutions of Los Angeles, CA
— Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota of Sioux Falls, SD
— CCCS of Mid-Florida of Ocala, FL
— Aurora Family Service of Milwaukee, WI
— CCCS of Northeastern Iowa of Waterloo, IA
— CCCS of Northeastern Pennsylvania of Pittson, PA
— Family Counseling Service of Northern Nevada of Reno, NV
— Credit Counseling Centers of OK, Inc. of Tulsa, OK
— CCCS of Springfield of Springfield, MO
— Graceworks Lutheran Services of Dayton, OH
— CCCS of the North Coast of Arcata, CA
— Young Women’s Christian Assoc. of El Paso, TX
— Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. of Topeka, KS
— Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western North Carolina
— Consumer Credit And Budget Counseling of Marmora, NJ
— GreenPath, Inc. of Farmington, MI
— Take Charge America of Phoenix, AZ
— Debt Counseling Corp of Hauppauge, NY
— Garden State Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc. of Freehold, NJ
— The Village Family Service Center of Fargo, ND
— Delaware Financial Literacy Institute of Claymont, DE
— Professor Michael E. Staten, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ *T