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Survey: Credit card interest rates stay at 14.95 percent

Posted: 3/13/2013 10:00:00 AM
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Interest rates on new credit card offers remained flat this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 14.95 percent Wednesday for the fourth consecutive week.

None of the issuers tracked by made significant rate changes this week. Two issuers did, however, adjust the promotional offers on two student credit cards.

US Bank eliminated the promotional APR and introductory balance transfer rate on the US Bank College card. Previously, students were offered six months of interest-free financing on balance transfers and new purchases. 

Now, students who want to capitalize on interest-free financing will have to look elsewhere for a card. The US Bank College card is the only student credit card that US Bank offers online.

Discover also tightened its promotional offer on the Discover "it" for students card this week, after briefly testing a longer-term promotion. Students now have just six months to take advantage of the card's promotional financing offers, including a 10.99 percent introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0 percent APR on purchases.  

Students who want a longer-term promotion will have trouble finding one. Most issuers offer similar time frames for student cards.

For example, among the seven student cards that tracks, three offer promotional financing for six or seven months. An equal number offer no promotional financing.

Only one issuer tracked by, Bank of America , offers longer-term promotions for college students. The BankAmericard for Students features an interest-free promotional balance transfer and a 0 percent APR that lasts as long as 15 months.

Late payments fall to new lows
Credit card issuers, which have been dialing back promotions or leaving current offers alone while they wait out the weak economy, have some reason to celebrate this week.

Fewer credit card holders are letting their credit card bills go to collections and many more are paying their bills on time, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings. Credit card charge-offs -- debt that issuers have given up on collecting -- fell to a six-year-low in February 2013, according to the March 12 report by Fitch Ratings. Charge-off rates have been steadily improving since 2010, with occasional fluctuations. They're now down by 26 percent compared to the same time last year.

Late payments on credit cards also fell in February, hitting the lowest level ever recorded by Fitch since it began collecting late payment data in 1991.

The marked improvement in both delinquencies -- late payments by 30 days or more -- and charge-offs underscores just how far consumers have come in recent years.

By the final quarter of 2012, for example, the amount of outstanding debt that consumers still owed to their credit card companies reached its lowest level in 17 years, according to an earlier report from Fitch. 

"Consumers' resilience at keeping their debt in check while continuing to pay it down is keeping monthly payments steady," said Fitch Managing Director Michael Dean in a statement at the time.

In addition, consumers are also paying down their balances at a historically fast pace, according to Fitch's most recent report. The Fitch Index's Monthly Payment Rate -- which measures the amount of time it takes cardholders to pay down their balances -- bounced to 24.83 percent in February. That's the highest level ever recorded, according to Fitch. 

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