Interest rates on new credit card offers stayed put this week,
according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate
None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new
interest rates this week. As a result, the national average annual
percentage rate (APR) remained at 14.95 percent Wednesday for the
sixth consecutive week.
Issuers left promotional offers alone as well. Short-term
balance transfer rates and introductory APRs remained the same for
each of the 100 representative cards in the CreditCards.com
Changes to promotional offers have become rare in recent months.
In previous years, issuers frequently tested longer-term
promotions, such as 0 percent balance transfer offers that lasted
as long as two years.
These days, the vast majority of promotional balance transfer
offers tracked by CreditCards.com last between 12 and 15 months.
Few issuers have extended their offers past the 15-month mark.
Issuers' reluctance to test new offers more aggressively may
stem, in part, from weak demand for new cards. Consumer demand for
new credit was lackluster through much of 2012, according to
Federal Reserve research.
Consumer confidence nosedives in March
Despite ongoing reluctance to sign up for more credit, consumers
did begin spending more freely on retail and other services in the
first few months of 2013, according to the Commerce Department.
That could change, however, if renewed pessimism about the economy
begins to affect how eager consumers are to spend their extra
Consumer confidence plummeted in March, according to figures
released March 26 by the Conference Board, after shooting up in
February for the first time in months.
"Consumer confidence fell sharply in March, following February's
uptick," said the Conference Board's Lyn Franco in a
. "This month's retreat was driven primarily by a sharp decline in
expectations, although consumers were also more pessimistic in
their assessment of current conditions."
Widespread uncertainty over the economic impact of deep cuts in
federal spending, known as the sequester, is largely to blame for
consumers' soured outlook, said Franco. The cuts took effect March
1 and, until then, experts widely predicted that Congress would
come to a last-minute agreement that would stop the cuts from
Legislators proved experts wrong, however, and have yet to
signal to the public that they are serious about coming to an
agreement any time soon.
"As a result, consumers are less confident," said Franco.
Because Congress shows little willingness to find a way out of
the self-imposed sequester before the next round of budget talks
that are scheduled for the summer, consumers and businesses are
being forced to prepare for the unknown financial consequences that
could result from the cuts. The across-the-board spending cuts
affect a wide range of industries, including defense, biomedical
and science research and education.
According to the Conference Board, consumers are now less
hopeful that business conditions and the labor market will improve
by the end of the summer, or that they will get a raise any time
More consumers also expect that business conditions will get
worse before they get better and a larger number than before think
the number of open jobs could shrink in the coming months.
It's unknown how long consumers will remain grumpy about the
country's economic outlook, particularly since the direction
legislators take this year is still uncertain. However, consumers
do have some reason to be at least somewhat more upbeat going
Despite the layoffs and furloughs that will result from the
federal sequester, the overall labor market is steadily improving.
The U.S. economy added 236,000 new jobs in February, according to
, pushing the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent -- its lowest
level since 2008.
Fed stays the course on interest rates