Interest rates on new credit card offers lingered at 14.95
percent for the seventh straight week, according to the
CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
This is the 11th week this year that the national average
percentage rate (APR) has remained the same.
Since Jan. 1, only two issuers tracked by CreditCards.com, Wells
Fargo and Chase, have made changes to a card's lowest available
Two other credit card issuers did make changes to their
promotional offers this week, however. The clothing goods store
L.L. Bean eliminated its 12-month, 0 percent balance transfer offer
on the L.L. Bean Visa credit card.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, meanwhile, swapped out its 0
percent balance transfer offer on the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards
Visa card for a low-rate offer that lasts indefinitely. New
cardholders are now eligible for a 4.99 percent introductory rate
that lasts until the transferred balance is paid off.
The credit union's low-rate, long-term balance transfer offer is
unusual among credit card offers. Most promotional balance transfer
offers have a specific deadline -- often 12 to 15 months after the
balance is transferred over. However, the credit union's offer
Pentagon Federal Credit Union first introduced its
unconventional balance transfer offer in April 2012. The credit
union tested the unconventional offer by introducing it to just a
select number of cards, including the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards
Visa card and the PenFed Promise Visa card.
In January 2013, the credit union briefly replaced the 4.99
percent balance transfer rate on the Platinum Cash Rewards card
with a more traditional 0 percent offer that lasts for 18
Now, three months later, the credit union appears to have
changed its mind. All credit cards offered online by Pentagon
Federal Credit Union -- including the Cash Rewards card -- now
feature the credit union's unique promotional balance transfer rate
of 4.99 percent for the life of the balance, according to a survey
of the issuer's site.
Credit card delinquencies again fall to record
Since the recession, issuers have remained strikingly conservative
about the credit card offers they are willing to extend to new
cardholders. Current cardholders, however, have proven to be far
better customers than they were in the past.
The number of late payments that cardholders made to their
credit card companies, for example, fell again in the final quarter
of 2012, according to the American Bankers Association's most
recent Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, fewer than 3 percent of all
credit card accounts (2.47 percent, according to the bulletin) were
found to be late by 30 days or more.
That's the lowest level of late payments in 18 years, according
to the report.
Experts say that the most recent delinquency figures underscore
a positive long-term trend for U.S. households that could bode well
for the economy -- and lenders -- in the future.
"Consumers continue to carefully manage their finances in an
effort to get debt levels under control and build up a secure
financial base," said the American Bankers Association's chief
economist James Chessen in a
. "While this conservative approach to credit may slow economic
growth in the short-term, it portends stronger, more consistent
growth in the future. The sharp decline in delinquencies reinforces
the notion that the economic recovery has become more
self-sustaining and is on a path to increased growth."
That said, despite the positive trend, consumers are still
facing an extraordinary amount of economic uncertainty going
forward, said Chessen. If the slow-moving economy sours, consumers'
ability to make timely payments could be derailed by financial
circumstances outside of their control.
"Make no mistake, a great deal of uncertainty still lingers over
this economy," said Chessen in the release. "Furloughs from
sequestration, falling disposable income and increased healthcare
and regulatory costs for businesses could lead to challenges in the
Card balances rose in January
Fed stays the course on interest rates