May 29, 2013: Interest rates on new credit card offers held steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
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|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 29, 2013|
Interest rates on new credit card offers held steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 14.98 percent Wednesday. The average had risen twice in the prior four weeks.
Most issuers left card offers alone this week. Barclays made a rare change to the promotional terms on the high-end Visa Black card, but didn’t change the card’s 14.99 percent APR or its $495 annual fee.
To entice new customers, Barclays introduced a 0 percent introductory APR for 12 months. Previously, the card advertised a 0 percent balance transfer rate, but didn’t offer a promotional APR.
Barclays also shortened the card’s 0 percent balance transfer period from 15 months to 12 months. This is the first time this year that Barclays has made a change to the Visa Black card’s terms.
Like most issuers, Barclays has made very few changes to card offers in recent years. As the economy limps toward recovery, issuers have refrained from aggressively testing new offers.
Cardholders, meanwhile, have shown little appetite for running up the cards they have or applying for new ones. That may change, however, as new and current cardholders become more confident about the economy’s direction and their own financial prospects.
Consumer confidence jumps
U.S. consumers may finally be ready to let go (at least for now) of the financial pessimism that has hung over the economy since it nosedived in 2008, according to research from The Conference Board.
Despite slightly higher payroll taxes, a persistently high unemployment rate and indefinite cuts to federal spending, consumer confidence is now at a five-year high, the board reported Tuesday.
This is the second consecutive month that U.S. consumers have reported feeling significantly more optimistic about current conditions and the overall direction of the economy.
Consumer confidence took a modest hit earlier this spring, when consumers faced a string of bad economic news, including the expiration of the payroll tax holiday (causing nearly everyone’s paychecks to drop) and a legislative impasse, known as the sequester, that resulted in deep cuts in federal spending.
That confidence recovered somewhat in April, as consumers reported feeling less worried that the economy was on the verge of breaking down.
Consumer pessimism over their own job prospects has also recovered somewhat. This month’s Consumer Confidence Index, for example, found that fewer consumers (around 36.1 percent — down from 36.9 percent in March) think jobs are “hard to get” these days. That’s a big improvement from the first few years into the recovery, when nearly half of all respondents consistently reported that jobs are tough to come by.
Housing prices also up
On the same day that The Conference Board released its latest Consumer Confidence Index, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) said that housing prices rose by more than 10 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same time last year.
Home prices picked up in all 20 of the cities monitored by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices. But in some major metropolitan cities, the news was even sweeter. According to the S&P’s latest report, home prices in five of the nation’s biggest metropolises — Charlotte, N.C., Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tampa, Fla. — saw their biggest month-over-month price increases in more than seven years.
The boost in home prices is a strong sign that the economy is recovering at a faster pace this year than in 2012. “Other housing market data reported in recent weeks confirm these strong trends,” said S&P Dow Jones Indices David Blitzer in a statement accompanying the report.
The housing market still has far to go before it fully recovers from the recession, said Blitzer, which means many consumers will still be feeling cautious about their financial prospects for some time. “At the same time, the larger than usual share of multifamily housing, a large number of homes still in some stage of foreclosure and buying-to-rent by investors suggest that the housing recovery is not complete,” said Blitzer in the release.
See related:NY Fed: Credit card balances reach new low