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Countrywide staffers haven’t had much to cheer about this holiday season, with the company struggling to right itself amidst the slumping the mortgage market, but the company announced some success today with one of its products.
The Countrywide credit card, administered by Visa, allows card holders to pay down $50 of their mortgage principal with every $2,500 they spend on the card. That’s 2% back, on the high end of what other credit cards have been offering, but less than the 5% back some gas station affiliated cards provide.
Countrywide says 71% of its cardholders have used the option. Of course, these mortgage holders would be better off taking the money they are spending on tchotches and putting 100% of it toward paying down their principal. But hey, it’s the holidays.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.