Personal Finance

Credit card APRs remain flat at 15.03 percent

Average rates on new card offers remained at 15.03 percent Wednesday for the sixth consecutive week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

None of the issuers tracked by altered interest rates this week. Issuers left promotional balance transfer offers and introductory purchase rates alone as well.

This is the 25th week this year that the national average APR hasn't budged. Credit card issuers tinker with interest rates so rarely these days that the national average has changed just seven times in our weekly survey since Jan. 1.

Four of those changes were due to just one issuer. Between April 2014 and July 2014, Chase increased the APR on a number of travel rewards cards, including the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus card and the Disney Rewards Visa.

Most of the issuers tracked by haven't changed rates since 2013.

Credit card spending heats up

Credit card holders are ramping up their spending this summer, according to new research from First Data Corporation, and many of those purchases are going on their cards.

According to First Data's latest SpendTrend report , credit card spending jumped 6.2 percent in July, thanks in part to increased summer travel. That's the single biggest increase in spending on plastic since December 2013.

Credit card holders spent significantly more on hotels and other travel-related expenses. In addition, they also spruced up their homes with brand-new building and gardening supplies.

According to First Data, consumers often prefer to pay for travel and big-ticket home expenses with credit, rather than cash. As a result, credit card spending outpaced debit card spending for the third consecutive month.

Spending on signature debit rose by just 0.4 percent in July, after increasing by 2 percent in June. Spending on PIN debit increased by a relatively modest 3.9 percent.

Consumers also are reaching for their plastic more often this summer -- indicating to analysts that many cardholders are becoming much more comfortable with using credit for everyday purchases.

For example, card transaction growth -- which measures the total number of times consumers swiped their cards -- grew 7.5 percent in July after increasing by 5.3 percent in June.

Consumers were less eager to use their debit cards, by contrast, particularly compared to credit. For example, debit card usage for signature debit declined in July after remaining flat in June.

Consumers punched in a PIN slightly more often. Transaction growth for PIN debit -- which consumers often use for food and gas purchases -- grew by 3.1 percent. But debit card usage overall fell behind credit for the second consecutive month.

See related:Card balances rise, keep pace with slow spending growth

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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