Credit card interest rates stalled at 14.92 percent
Interest rates on new credit card offers held firm Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained stuck at 14.92 percent for the fourth consecutive week. None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. Issuers left promotional terms alone as well.
This is also the eighth week in a row card issuers have left 0 percent purchase offers and promotional balance transfer rates unchanged. The last time an issuer tracked by CreditCards.com changed a promotional offer was in the middle of March.
Issuers typically use interest-free promotions to lure new cardholders. However, since Jan. 1, only a handful of cards in the CreditCards.com database have featured new promotions.
According to the financial services firm Credit Suisse, issuers have also cut back on the number of interest-free promotions they mail to consumers' homes. For example, in March 2015, issuers sent 232 million credit card offers advertising a 0 percent purchase rate -- down from 240 million offers in March 2014. Consumers also received fewer promotional balance transfer offers, said Credit Suisse.
boost spending -- barely
Consumers are spending slightly more this year than they did in 2014, according to separate reports released this week. But retailers hoping for a robust spring sales season were disappointed once again this year as consumers held back on major purchases.
According to advance monthly estimates released May 13 by the Commerce Department, retail and food services sales picked up by nearly a full percentage point (0.9 percent) in April compared to the previous year. However, compared to March, retail sales stalled last month, surprising economists, who expected a more significant increase.
According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg News, economists predicted that retail sales would increase, month over month, by at least 0.2 percent. Instead, sales were essentially flat in April after increasing by a revised 1.1 percent the previous month.
Consumers purchased slightly more personal items, such as clothing, music and books. They also visited bars and restaurants more frequently. However, consumers held back on purchasing big-ticket items, such as cars, electronics, appliances and new furniture, fueling concerns that many consumers are still too cautious to spend large amounts of money, despite enjoying major savings on gas.
A separate report, released May 12 by the payment company First Data, was more encouraging. It showed that retail spending on select big ticket items, such as building materials and furniture, has increased significantly since last year. For example, consumers spent nearly 8 percent more in April to spruce up their homes with new building materials and garden supplies than they did in the spring of 2014. They also spent somewhat more on new furniture and cars.
In addition, consumers spent substantially more on travel this year, according to First Data. For example, spending on hotels jumped 7.6 percent in April, compared to 2014.First Data also found that consumers are using their credit cards more often this year and padding their balances with bigger purchases. For example, credit card transaction growth, which measures the number of times consumers swiped their cards, accelerated by 4.7 percent in April. Meanwhile, total credit card spending grew by 2.4 percent.
|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: May 13, 2015|
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