Rate survey: APRs hold steady at 15 percent

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Average rates on new credit card offers stayed put this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15 percent Wednesday after falling the previous week from 15.02 percent.

Most issuers left credit card terms alone this week. Chase floated a slightly higher APR on the Marriott Rewards Visa Signature card. However, the rate change didn't affect the national average because the hotel card's lower rate is still being offered to some applicants.

Credit card issuers frequently test new offers by presenting different terms online. For example, some computer users who visit Chase's website and click on the Marriott Rewards Visa Signature card are now offered a slightly higher APR of 15.99 percent. Others who pull up the same application are being offered an APR of 15.24 percent.

This is the first time in nearly a year Chase has experimented with new terms for Marriot's hotel rewards card. The last time Chase increased the APR on the Marriott Rewards Visa Signature card was in June 2013. At that time, Chase increased the APR from 14.24 percent to 15.24 percent.

Economy, weather improve together

The research firm looked at several leading economic indicators, including consumer confidence, employment and lending activity, and concluded economic growth is once again beginning to accelerate after slowing down earlier this year.

"The economy is rebounding from widespread inclement weather and the strengthening in the labor market is beginning to have a positive impact on growth," said The Conference Board's Ken Goldstein in an April 21 press release .

Economists had previously suspected an unusually cold winter across much of the nation had temporarily depressed economic growth.

Retailers saw less foot traffic during the early winter because of harsh weather conditions. And employers hired significantly fewer workers than expected. Economists widely blamed the wintery weather for the temporary setbacks.

Now that the weather has markedly improved, the economy is improving at a much faster pace as well. Retail sales, for example, jumped sharply in March, according to the Commerce Department.

The job market has also picked up momentum. The Labor Department reported earlier this month employers created 192,000 new jobs in March and 197,000 new jobs in February, revised upward from 175,000.

A second report, released last week by the Federal Reserve, showed similar improvements. The Fed's April 16 "beige book" summary of economic conditions reported consumer spending has picked up considerably in most areas of the country after weakening earlier this year. Lenders also reported stronger demand for new loans. Business lending, in particular, increased throughout most of the U.S., indicating that many businesses are getting ready to expand. However, mortgage lending was considerably weaker and even declined in some areas.

Employers optimistic
Another report, released April 23, shows that employers are feeling pretty good about their economic prospects, which could help fuel a stronger job market. A survey of 3,500 business leaders by J.P Morgan Chase found that a large number of employers expect sales to increase considerably over the next year, and are optimistic about the overall direction of the economy. Employers were especially optimistic about their local economies, according to Chase, and more than half said they planned to increase their borrowing in order to expand their businesses.

Despite the brightened outlook, however, just 29 percent of the small businesses surveyed said they planned to hire more workers. Fifty-three percent of midsized companies said the same.

See last week's survey: Rate survey: Portfolio shift brings down average APR

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Credit and Debt

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