Personal Finance

Survey: Average card rate stuck at 15% for 15th week

Interest rates on new credit card offers remained locked in place again this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the 15th consecutive week, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15 percent. None of the issuers tracked by altered interest rates this week. Most issuers left interest-free promotions, such as 0 percent transfer offers and introductory APRs, unchanged as well.

American Express is testing a less-generous promotional offer on two of its rewards cards, but only some applicants are being offered the new promotion. Some applicants who view the American Express EveryDay card and the BlueCash EveryDay card online are offered an interest-free balance transfer and purchase APR for up to 15 months. Others are offered a slimmed-down promotional offer that lasts just 12 months.

Debit cards' popularity continues to slip

Fewer consumers are reaching for their debit cards, according to new research from the payment company TSYS, but they don't appear to be pulling out their credit cards instead.

The payment company polled 1,000 U.S. consumers and found that the percentage of consumers who prefer to use debit instead of credit has declined somewhat since last year, but the number of consumers who prefer to use credit has mostly stayed the same.

Instead of increasing their use of credit, consumers appear to be relying more heavily on cash and experimenting with alternative payment methods, said the payment company. "We have seen the use of PayPal and other online forms of payment being used by a growing number of respondents since 2013, likely due to the expansion of e-commerce," it said.

According to the study, around 41 percent of consumers preferred to use debit cards instead of other payment methods, down from 43 percent in 2014 and 49 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, just 35 percent of consumers this year said they preferred to use credit cards. An equal number of consumers said the same in 2014, up from 34 percent in 2013.

Consumers with higher incomes were especially likely to prefer to use credit rather than debit cards and also tend to own more plastic overall. Younger and lower-income consumers, by contrast, were more likely to use debit cards.

Meanwhile, consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 were more likely than other age groups who preferred to use PayPal and other alternative payment methods, signaling that alternative payments could be gaining traction with younger groups.

Despite payment preferences, many consumers tend to vary their payment method depending on where they are and what they're planning to buy, said TSYS. For example, consumers tend to reach for debit cards when buying gas, shopping at a grocery store or paying bills, but prefer to use credit when shopping online or in a department store or when making travel-related purchases. In addition, consumers prefer to use cash when buying coffee or fast food.

"While this year's results reflected some changes in payment preference percentages, overall we continued to see that consumers prefer to use debit when making everyday purchases, credit when shopping online or making discretionary purchases and cash when making small dollar payments," wrote the payment company.

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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