Credit card interest rates remain at 15.06 percent for 3rd week
|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: Sept. 10, 2014|
Average credit card interest rates held steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15.06 percent Wednesday for the third consecutive week. None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates.
Average rates on new card offers are currently near record highs and show few signs of falling significantly any time soon. The last time average rates were this high was in early January when the national average began the year at 15.06 percent.
Since then, average rates have hovered just above 15 percent for most of 2014. The last time average rates fell below 15 percent was in September 2013.
Card issuers rarely lower interest rates these days. The national average has increased six times since the beginning of the year. It's fallen just twice.
Consumers pinch pennies on clothing, entertainment
Consumer spending took a hit in 2013, new research from the Labor Department shows. According to data, released Sept. 9, consumers spent slightly less overall last year than they did in 2012. Year-over-year spending fell by 0.7 percent.
Spending on discretionary purchases, such as clothing and entertainment, fell even more sharply, hitting retailers especially hard. Spending on apparel and services, for example, fell by 7.6 percent in 2013 after falling by 0.2 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, spending on entertainment fell by 4.7 percent, with restaurant spending falling 2 percent. Consumers also reduced spending on miscellaneous purchases, such as alcohol and tobacco, personal care products and reading materials.
Consumers were significantly less generous last year as well. Donations fell by 4.1 percent in 2013 after increasing 11.2 percent in 2012. According to the Labor Department, people donated substantially less money to charities and somewhat less to religious groups.
The Labor Department's latest findings underscore just how reluctant consumers have been to spend heavily on nonessential purchases. The only four categories that showed an increase in spending in 2013 were health care, groceries, housing and transportation.
Americans did buy more cars in 2013, which could indicate that confidence levels in the economy and in personal finances were high enough to borrow for a major purchase. Spending on vehicles grew by 1.9 percent.
Since then, consumers have continued to show a stronger appetite for new cars. For example, research released Sept. 8 by the Federal Reserve showed that total consumer credit surged by 9.7 percent in July 2014, thanks in part to a jump in auto loans. The report also found that credit card balances expanded in July for the fifth consecutive month, the longest continuous growth since the recession.
But multiple reports also show that overall consumer spending has been relatively anemic lately, especially when it comes to discretionary purchases. Research released last week by the Commerce Department, for example, showed that total consumer spending slumped in July for the first time since January. Meanwhile, a second report released by Gallup showed that spending on nonessential purchases, such as retail sales and meals out, dipped this summer after hitting a six-year high in May.
According to a separate Gallup poll, released Sept. 9, a sizeable number of Americans -- 23 percent -- say they've reduced their spending since 2013.
Meanwhile, 44 percent of consumers say they've increased spending, but they're not necessarily spending money on what they want. "A multitude of Americans continue to perceive that they are spending more than a year ago, but not on discretionary purchases," said Gallup's John Fleming in a news release. Instead, many consumers are spending more on items they need, such as food, due to somewhat higher prices.
See related: Average credit card debt statistics