Credit card interest rates rise to 15.06 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: Nov. 20, 2013|
Average rates on new credit card offers inched higher this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) rose to 15.06 Wednesday after Chase increased the APR on one of its rewards credit cards.
Chase lifted the APR on the Chase Sapphire card from 15.24 percent to 15.99 percent. The incremental change was just large enough to push the national average up by .01 percent.
This is the second time this month that the national average has risen. Average rates on new credit card offers have hovered above 15 percent for the past nine weeks.
As a result, the average APR for the year recently increased to 14.97 percent after remaining stuck at 14.95 percent for most of 2013.
The national average APR for the week is currently at its highest point in nearly two years.
Credit card spending picks up
Average APRs on new credit cards are relatively high these days, compared to where they were four years ago. (In 2009, for example, the average APR for the year was just 12.34 percent.)
But despite higher rates on new card offers, credit cards are gradually becoming a more popular way to pay with plastic. According to new research from the Nilson Report, for example, credit card use ticked up in 2012, accounting for 52.82 percent of all spending on plastic payment cards last year.
Despite the rise in usage, cardholders are still careful about the total amount of debt carried on their cards. Credit card debt fell in September for the fourth consecutive month, according to the Federal Reserve's latest consumer credit report.
However, new research from the payment processing firm First Data Corporation shows that cardholders are modestly increasing the amount spend on their cards. According to research released Nov. 18, credit card spending rose by 7.7 percent in October.
Debit card spending and prepaid card spending rose last month as well, but not nearly as much. Debit card spending using a PIN, for example, rose 6.2 percent in October. Debit card spending using signature debit rose by 6 percent, while spending on prepaid cards rose by 3.8 percent.
Overall, spending on plastic payment cards and checks increased by 6.8 percent, according to First Data's most recent SpendTrend report.
Last month's growth in spending is particularly good news for retailers, since analysts widely predicted that the 16-day government shutdown that occurred during the first two weeks of October would substantially erode cardholders' desire to spend.
Analysts at First Data Corporation say that consumers began spending significantly more toward the end of the month, after the U.S. government was reopened and the impasse over the federal debt ceiling was temporarily resolved.
"Consumer spending growth gained momentum in October, which should provide retailers with an optimistic outlook heading into the holiday season," said First Data's Krish Mantripragada in a statement. "Retailers should expect holiday spending to be modestly stronger compared to last year barring any number of external events that could negatively impact sales such as poor weather or geopolitical events at home or abroad."
Analysts predict modest holiday spending
Retailers have less than two weeks to prepare for Black Friday -- one of the busiest shopping days of the year -- and are already drawing shoppers with early holiday promotions, according to data from the market research firm Nielsen.
Shoppers may not have a lot of money to spend, however. According to a report released Nov. 4, more than half of consumers told researchers that they have just enough money to cover their essentials, but are otherwise financially stretched. Just 48 percent of consumers, by contrast, said they had enough income to comfortably buy more.
Sixty-eight percent of consumers say that it still feels like the country is in a recession, even though it's been more than four years since the Great Recession formally ended.
According to the report, about half of consumers expect to spend between $250 and $1,000 on holiday shopping. Just 6 percent said they'd spend more than that.
Analysts say they expect holiday spending to grow this year, but not by much. According to Nielsen's 2013 holiday spending forecast, analysts there predict that holiday spending will tick up by just 2 percent this year compared to 2012.
See related: Credit card balances extend their slide
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