Credit card interest rates stayed steady again this week, but that doesn’t mean issuers were sitting on their hands
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|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: June 15, 2011|
Interest rates on new credit card offers held steady at 14.83 percent for the third straight week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
None of the cards in our database had annual percentage rate (APR) changes this week, but that is nothing new. Rates have been largely unchanged throughout most of the year, as our weekly average has changed only nine times in 2011, compared to 19 times by this date in 2010. The recent stability may be due to issuers finding their footing in the wake of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 and a recovering economy.
Though rates are steady, banks and creditors are still shaping the market. One bank temporarily stopped marketing a prominent credit card this week. For the time being, Bank of America has removed the NASCAR RacePoints card from its website. (As of Wednesday, however, NASCAR is still marketing the card on its site.)
“We’re in the process of evaluating potential changes to the product features and have temporarily discontinued marketing the card to avoid any customer confusion,” Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess said.
Changes in sports cards market
Sports-affiliated credit cards often offer discounts for items from a team’s online store and, sometimes, tickets to games. Currently, we track credit cards for three sports leagues in our database — the NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR. Each league’s cards offer rewards points — typically $1 spent with the card earns the cardholder one point — that are redeemable for merchandise, tickets, memorabilia and travel. As with many rewards cards, some of the sports cards offer a sign-up bonus, too. For example, Bank of America’s MLB Extra Bases card offers 10,000 bonus rewards points after your first transaction of $75 or more.
The BofA MLB Extra Bases and the NASCAR RacePoints cards feature a range of 12.99 percent to 20.99 percent. The NFL card — issued by Barclays — is offered with a range of 13.74 percent to 17.74 percent.
Sports credit card offers were once widespread in the credit industry, and Bank of America has been the industry’s standard-bearer in recent years. BofA had focused heavily on these “affinity” cards — cards branded with the logo of, for example, a college sports team or a retailer — after its 2006 purchase of MBNA, which had specialized in providing those types of cards.
However, not long after the MBNA acquisition, affinity cards were hit hard by the recession. Then, the CARD Act imposed strict regulations on how banks and issuers could target college students. For example, practices such as setting up tables on campus and offering college students a free pizza or T-shirt for a new credit card application were outlawed. The law also stated that people under the age of 21 had either provide proof of income to an issuer or get someone to co-sign with them in order to get a credit card. These restrictions have caused many issuers to shift their focus away from college students and caused further erosion of the affinity card business as a whole.
While the NASCAR card is temporarily unavailable on BofA’s website, the bank still markets the MLB Extra Bases credit card. And it had offered the NFL’s Extra Points card for 15 years until 2010. That’s when London-based Barclays won the football league’s business.