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Rate survey: Credit card interest rates rise slightly

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Interest rates on new credit card offers ticked up this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.  

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.01%
15.00%
14.91%
Low interest 10.40%
10.40% 10.40%
Balance transfer 12.62%
12.62%
12.43%
Business 13.13%
13.13%
12.67%
Student
13.31%
13.16%
13.77%
Cash back  14.47%
14.47%
14.24%
Airline  14.63%
14.63%
14.63%
Reward 14.85%
14.84%
14.70%
Instant approval 15.49%
15.49%
15.49%
Bad credit 23.64%
23.64%
23.64%
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.
Source: CreditCards.com
Updated: Oct. 31, 2012

The national average APR rose to 15.01 percent Wednesday, after remaining at 15 percent for six straight weeks. This is just the seventh time this year that the national average has risen.

Citi spurred this week's rate change by increasing the advertised APRs on a student credit card. The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa for College Students previously featured an APR range of 12.99 percent to 20.99 percent. Now, the card features a wider range of possible APRs, starting at 13.99 percent for students with the best credit. Students with imperfect credit may receive an APR as high as 23.99 percent.

CreditCards.com calculates its average using the low end of ranges, so Citi's hike bumped the national average higher.

Consumers remain optimistic
New cardholders may be contending with slightly higher average interest rates on their cards. However, many consumers say that they are feeling more confident about their finances than they have in five years, according to Reuters and the University of Michigan's most recent Survey of Consumers

Consumers are feeling especially rosy about their personal finances, say researchers. The number of consumers who said they recently received a raise grew in October and a record number said they expected at least a small income boost within the next year. Even more encouraging, 50 percent of households said they expect a raise this year. That's the largest number of consumers that have felt confident about their income prospects in four years, according to the survey.

That said, consumers' expectations were modest. According to the survey, consumers didn't expect the increases in their income to outpace the rising cost of living in the U.S.

A larger number of respondents also said they expect the economy -- and specifically the labor market -- to improve substantially this year. In fact, consumers are more positive about the unemployment rate, which is currently at 7.8 percent, than they have been since 1984, say researchers.

Experts are quick to point out that consumer optimism may fade, however, if U.S. leaders are unable to quickly come to an agreement about how to stop the automatic series of spending cuts and tax hikes, known as the "fiscal cliff,"  that are scheduled for Jan. 1. Economists widely agree that if political leaders don't steer us away from  the cliff, the U.S. could fall swiftly back into a recession.

"The very positive economic expectations of consumers stand in sharp contrast to growing concerns expressed by investors and companies about the impending fiscal cliff as well as the impact of a slowing global economy," said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin in a press release. "While the surge in confidence will act to bolster consumer spending during the upcoming holiday season, it also means that this higher level of optimism is more vulnerable to reversal, depending on how and when the fiscal cliff is bridged."

Already, consumers have measurably increased their spending this fall. Consumers ramped up their personal consumption by $87.9 billion in September, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That's a significant increase from August, when personal consumption rose by $59.9 billion.    

Consumers' incomes also rose slightly in September, said the Commerce Department. However, so did prices. As a result, consumers' disposable income actually declined slightly in September, thanks to the rising prices of goods and services, such as food and gas.      

See related: Travel perk: Credit card emergency travel assistance

Published: October 31, 2012


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