Interest rates on new credit card offers held steady at 14.95
percent Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit
Card Rate Report.
The national average annual percentage rate (
) remained unchanged Wednesday, after falling the previous week for
the first time in 10 weeks.
None of the cards that CreditCards.com tracks featured rate
changes this week. However, that's now the norm in today's placid
card offer climate.
Earlier this month, some issuers, including
, removed a select number of cards from their marketing pages.
Discover also introduced a new flagship card, the Discover "it"
To keep up with the changes, CreditCards.com replaced some cards
in the CreditCards.com database, causing the
national average APR
to dip slightly. However, those were the only cards in the
CreditCards.com database that changed.
All other cards tracked by CreditCards.com have featured the
same APR since November 2012.
Most issuers have remained reluctant in recent months to make
substantial changes to their credit card portfolios. Many have also
cut back on traditional types of credit card marketing, including
mailing credit card offers to consumers' homes.
Experts say that, to some extent, the cutbacks in credit card
mailings reflect shifting strategies in how credit card marketers
are going after new customers. However, the cutbacks may also
reflect the stubbornly weak economy, which has led many consumers
to pull back from applying for new cards.
GDP contracts for 1st time since '09
The U.S. economy is steadily improving, experts say, but its growth
remains painfully slow -- and often choppy -- and the uncertain
climb from the recession's steep fall is affecting every U.S.
industry, including credit cards.
Those challenges were underscored Wednesday when the Department
that growth domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. contracted in the
fourth quarter of 2012 for the first time since 2009.
The negative growth was largely due to major cutbacks in the
public sector. The U.S. government cut back defense spending
significantly in the final quarter of the year. At the time,
employees at the Department of Defense were still waiting to hear
back from lawmakers about whether or not military spending would be
sharply reduced as scheduled after Jan. 1. Since then, those
scheduled cutbacks have been delayed as a result of the fiscal
Businesses, meanwhile, also cut back on resupplying inventory in
the final quarter of the year. That, too, played a substantial role
in the negative GDP growth, said the Commerce Department. So did
declines in exports of U.S. goods to other countries.
The good news is that some of the country's decline in GDP
growth was offset, according to the Commerce Department, by
increased consumer spending and investments. The uptick in spending
and investment indicates that many people are still feeling
relatively confident about the economy's prospects, despite the
bumps in the road.
That said, consumer confidence as measured by the Conference
Board fell for the second month in January, according to the
group's most recent
, released Tuesday.
"Consumer confidence posted another sharp decline in January,
erasing all of the gains made through 2012," said the Conference
Board's Lyn Franco in a
. "Consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and,
in particular, their financial situation. The increase in the
payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers' spirits and it may
take a while for confidence to rebound and consumers to recover
from their initial paycheck shock."
Fed: As long as unemployment is high, rates will
remain ultra low