Interest rates on new credit card offers remained at 14.95
percent Wednesday for the third consecutive week, according to the
CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
Most issuers left interest rates alone this week. However, the
sporting goods store Cabela's did make a minor change to its retail
rewards card, raising the maximum available rate on the Cabela's
Club Visa from 18.19 percent to 18.20 percent.
The change didn't affect the national average, however, because
CreditCards.com considers only a card's lowest available rate when
calculating average interest rates.
was also busy this week, extending the amount of time students can
take advantage of an introductory APR and
0 percent balance transfer offer
on the Discover "it" card for students.
Previously, a student had six months at the lower introductory
interest rate. Now, students enjoy the promotional period for nine
The rest of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com left offers
alone this week. That's nothing new. Issuers have largely left
credit card offers alone for much of the past year amid slow
economic growth and anemic consumer spending.
have remained within rounding distance of 15 percent since 2010 and
haven't fallen below 14.9 percent since February 2012. The majority
of promotional offers have also remained the same as issuers play
it safe while waiting out the weak recovery.
Cardholders, meanwhile, have shown little appetite for applying
for a large number of new cards or for adding more debt to their
card balances than they can afford to quickly repay.
Total consumer credit, including credit card debt and mortgages,
grew for the first time since 2008 in the final quarter of 2012,
according to a report released Feb. 28 by the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
The total amount of growth in household debt was small -- around
half a percent. However, economists at the New York Fed said that
it was a promising sign that U.S. households were finally
recovering from the sharpest economic downturn since the Great
Fresh challenges for cardholders loom, however, which could make
it difficult for consumers to spend as heavily as needed to spur
Consumers face uncertain spring
Deep, across-the-board cuts in federal spending took effect Friday
after U.S. lawmakers failed to come up with a plan to stop a series
of automatic spending cuts. It's unknown if, or when, lawmakers
will come to an agreement on what to do about the federal budget
and so the cuts -- known as the sequester -- may last for some
If so, many Americans who work in the public sector will either
face a reduction in hours or layoffs this year, undercutting their
ability to spend as heavily as they otherwise would.
Americans in both the private and the public sector, meanwhile,
are also weathering a sizable drop in their incomes, thanks to the
end of the payroll tax holiday, which expired Jan. 1.
Disposable personal income fell 4 percent in January,
reflecting, in part, the higher payroll taxes, according to figures
released Friday by the
With less income coming in, consumers also saved much less in
January than they did the previous month. The personal savings rate
fell sharply in January, from 6.4 percent to 2.4 percent.
Consumers did at least spend a little more the first month of
the year, but not by much. Spending rose by just 0.2 percent in
January, according to the Commerce Department.
Going forward, consumers at least have some reason to cheer as
they get ready for tax season and, for many people, a much-needed
The majority of Americans -- 85 percent -- think they'll get a
tax refund this year, according to a
Capital One survey
released March 6, and many plan to use it to pay down debt.
Of the 1,006 respondents, 22 percent told pollsters that they
planned to whittle down loans with their tax refunds. Thirty-five
percent said they planned to spend some or all of their refunds, on
necessary items or on fun expenses, such as entertainment or retail
Card complaints zing companies