Rate survey: Portfolio shift brings down average APR
|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: April 16, 2014|
Average rates on new credit card offers dipped this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. The national average annual percentage rate (APR) fell to 15 percent Wednesday after rising the previous week to 15.02 percent.
This week's change was due to an adjustment to the CreditCards database, rather than a rate change. Occasionally, CreditCards.com reshuffles the database in order to more accurately reflect the current card market.
CreditCards.com removed several cards longer promoted online, including the Bank of America Accelerated Rewards card and the Chase Ink Classic card, and replaced them with similar offerings.
One of the cards CreditCards.com added to the database, the PNC Points Visa Business card, advertised a lower APR than the Chase Ink Classic card, causing the national average to decline.
Retail spending jumps
Now that the weather is finally warming up, consumers are hitting the malls again and they're spending more than they have in months.
According to research from the Commerce Department, retail sales surged in March -- rising at their fastest pace in more than a year.
Retail sales rose a healthy 1.1 percent in March compared to February, the best monthly performance since September 2012. Year over year, retail sales rose by nearly 4 percent.
Consumers spent significantly more on building and garden supplies, furniture and general merchandise, according to the report.
In addition, consumers went out to eat more often and ordered more merchandise from non-store retailers.
The Commerce Department also found that consumers are buying a lot more cars these days, particularly compared to last year. For example, automobile sales -- including sales for parts, as well as cars -- are up by more than 9 percent compared to last year.
Consumers spent less money on gas in March after spending somewhat more in February, giving them more room to spend on other items. In addition, consumers bought fewer electronics and appliances after stocking up earlier this year.
Credit card spending growth
Consumers are also charging more of their purchases to their credit cards, according to new research from the payment firm First Data Corporation. However, credit card usage isn't growing nearly as robustly as it did last year. Over the past three months, credit card spending growth slowed substantially, according to an analysis of First Data's SpendTrend report for April 2014, compared to the previous year.
Last month, for example, credit card spending rose by just 2.9 percent compared to March 2013 -- down from a year-over-year increase of 4 percent in February. That's the smallest increase since September 2012, when credit card spending rose by approximately 2.3 percent. In 2013, by contrast, the average month's credit card spending was up 7.6 percent over the previous year.
Meanwhile, debit card spending outpaced credit card spending substantially in March, picking up by 4.5 percent.
Last month's pickup in debit card spending doesn't necessarily mean consumer preference is shifting from credit to debit cards. Analysts at First Data Corporation speculate that many people used their debit cards to spend their tax refunds this year, temporarily pushing up debit card spending.
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