Interest rates on new credit card offers remained flat this
week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) held steady at
14.94 percent Wednesday, after increasing by just 1 basis point the
Last week marked the first time in three months that average
Average interest rates have remained exceptionally stable
through much of 2013. Since Jan. 1, the national average has
remained the same 15 weeks out of 20. Rates increased just twice
since the beginning of the year and have fallen three times -- each
time by just a small amount.
As a result, the national average is currently just 0.02 percent
below where it was at the beginning of 2013.
Consumers boost spending
Credit card holders, meanwhile, are continuing to clamp down on the
amount of debt they take on and are taking care of the debt they
Credit card balances fell to a record low
in the first quarter of 2013, according to research from the
Fedederal Reserve Bank of New York. Late payments also fell to
their lowest levels since 2008.
Despite remaining cautious about credit, however, consumers
aren't slamming their wallets completely shut.
Retail and restaurant spending rose 3.7 percent in April,
compared to the same time last year, according to
released Monday by the Census Bureau.
After sales fell significantly in March, a number of economists
predicted that retail sales would drop further in April as
consumers shied away from spending.
Instead, consumers ate out and shopped more in April, and also
committed to big-ticket purchases.
Auto sales, especially, (including sales for auto parts) jumped
last month, increasing by 1 percent between March and April.
Sales were especially strong compared to the same time last
year. Auto-related purchases climbed by 7.7 percent from April 2012
to April 2013, according to the Census Bureau.
Consumers also spent more on building materials and gardening
supplies in April, as well as on clothing, appliances and
entertainment-related retail purchases.
Experts say that a rise in big commitment purchases, such as
auto sales, and discretionary purchases, such as sporting goods or
books, is often a good sign that consumers are feeling more
confident about their finances.
Fewer consumers hunkering down
Fewer consumers are also reporting that they tamped down spending
in response to lingering economic woes.
According to a Gallup poll released Monday, the percentage of
people who say they've curbed their spending in recent months has
fallen since 2012.
However, despite fewer people cutting back, a significant
percentage still say they're being careful with how much they
For example, 41 percent of Americans say they're more frugal
than they used to be -- and just 10 percent of those respondents
expect to spend more in the future. (Thirty-one percent, meanwhile,
say that their new, more-disciplined spending habits are likely to
be permanent.) About one in four consumers say that they're
spending more than they did before, underscoring the fact that
consumers' appetite for heavier spending is still relatively
"The finding that 73 percent of Americans are either maintaining
or decreasing the amount they spend is a potentially troubling
sign, given that consumer spending contributes to about 70 percent
of the economy," wrote Andrew Dugan in a
announcing the findings.
That said, "The decreasing percentage of Americans who report
they are spending less money is a notable trend," wrote Dugan.
"This suggests the possibility that an increasing percentage of
adults have seen their personal financial situations stabilize or
improve, providing the impetus for even more Americans to ease
their recession-induced budget slashing in the future."
Infographic: Young adults most optimistic about