Credit card interest rates remain at 14.89 percent for 6th week
By Kelly Dilworth | Published: February 11, 2015
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of 100 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category listed above. (Introductory, or teaser, rates are not included in the calculation.)|
|Updated: Feb. 11, 2015|
Average rates on new credit card offers remained stuck at 14.89 percent Wednesday for the sixth consecutive week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
None of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com altered rates this week. Promotional terms, including introductory APRs and balance transfer offers, also remained unchanged.
Most issuers tracked by CreditCards.com have left credit card APRs alone since the beginning of the year. As a result, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) is lower now than it's been in years.
For most of 2014, average rates hovered just above 15 percent. In early November, the national average APR slid to 14.98 percent before continuing to periodically decline through the rest of the year. By Dec. 30, the national average had fallen to a two-and-a-half year low of 14.91 percent.
Credit card spending picks up
Despite lower gas prices and a stronger job market, many consumers are continuing to save their money rather than spend it. In December 2014, total consumer spending fell 0.3 percent -- the most it's fallen since 2009.
However, according to new research from the Federal Reserve and Gallup, the end-of-the-year frugality is unlikely to last long. The Federal Reserve reported Feb. 6 that credit card balances soared in December after contracting the previous month. According to the Fed, revolving debt, which is mostly made up of credit card debt, jumped 7.9 percent in December -- the most it's grown since April.
Total consumer credit, excluding mortgages, also increased in December as people borrowed more to pay for school, automobiles and other purchases.
Meanwhile, additional research from Gallup showed discretionary spending increased significantly in January compared to the previous year. In January 2015, consumers reported spending an average of $81 a day on retail, restaurant and gas station purchases. During the same time last year, they reported spending just $78 a day.
"Eighty-one dollars is one of the highest self-reported averages in any January since 2008," said Gallup's Rebecca Riffkin in a news release. "That the daily average in January 2015 is one of the highest since January 2008 is a good sign for the economy and helped reinforce other positive economic measures, such as increased job creation and growing economic confidence."
Additional research showed that total spending on credit and debit cards increased significantly since 2013.
Visa reported Jan. 29 that it processed 10 percent more credit and debit card transactions in the fourth quarter of 2014 than it did the previous year. Meanwhile, Visa card spending -- which measures the total amount spent on payment cards -- increased by 11 percent during the same period.
MasterCard also recorded more transactions last year than it did in 2013. Transaction volume was up 11 percent last quarter, according to MasterCard's Jan. 30 earnings report. Spending was up 13 percent.
Despite last quarter's increase in spending, executives say the uptick in spending toward the end of the year would have been higher if more people used the savings they earned on gas to pay for discretionary purchases, reported the Wall Street Journal.
"We haven't seen the extra savings from lower gas prices translate into additional discretionary spending," said MasterCard executive Ajay Banga in a conference call to investors.
Instead, many are choosing to save the extra money or use it to pay down debt.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Visa said that consumers are using about a quarter of their gas savings to shave down their loans and are pocketing most of what's left over.
See related: 6 bad reasons to open a new credit card