Rate survey: Average card rates increase to 15.01 percent
Average rates on new credit card offers rose Wednesday for the first time since June, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) rose to 15.01 percent after remaining at 15 percent for more than three months.
Unlike most national average changes, however, this week's change was due to a reshuffling of the cards in the CreditCards.com database rather than a rate change. Earlier this month, American Express stopped taking online applications for the JetBlue card and CreditCards.com replaced the card in the database with another travel card. In February, American Express announced it was unable to renew its deal with JetBlue to issue co-branded cards with the airline.
Retail sales lag ahead of holiday
The busiest shopping season of the year is fast approaching, but would-be holiday shoppers don't appear to be feeling especially festive.
According to the Commerce Department's latest sales estimates, released Oct. 14, retail and food service sales rose by just 0.1 percent in September after remaining flat the previous month.
The modest increase surprised economists who predicted retail sales would rise by at least 0.2 percent, according to a Bloomberg poll of 82 economists. Compared to 2014, retail sales rose by 2.4 percent.
Consumers spent slightly more on discretionary purchases, such as clothing, sporting goods, hobbies, books and music, which could indicate that consumers are becoming more comfortable with purchasing nonessential items. They also ate out more often, bought more furniture and purchased more cars. However, they spent less on general merchandise and electronics, online shopping and groceries, which could also mean that some consumers are tightening their belts as the holidays approach. Extra-low gas prices also helped drag down overall consumer spending, according to the report.
Despite sluggish summer and autumn sales, the National Retail Federation is optimistic about the holiday shopping season. In its annual holiday sales forecast released last week, the NRF estimated retail sales, excluding gas, restaurant and car purchases, should jump by at least 4 percent, year-over-year, in November and December -- a welcome change from previous seasons. Over the past decade, holiday sales have typically increased by an average of just 2.9 percent.
If consumers do ramp up their holiday shopping, the brightened outlook for retailers may not last for long. According to the New York Federal Reserve's latest Survey of Consumer Expectations, consumers' spending plans for the next 12 months contracted in September as more consumers downgraded their expectations.
Consumers were also somewhat more pessimistic about gaining access to credit over the next year, the survey found. However, they remained confident in their ability to repay what they owe.
|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: Oct. 14, 2015|
See related: Fed: Card balances rise for sixth straight month