Credit card interest rates remain at 15 percent

CreditCards.com

Average rates on new credit card offers remained unchanged this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15 percent Wednesday after falling the previous week for the first time in nearly six months.

Most credit card issuers left interest rates alone this week. The sporting goods store Cabela's lowered the APR on the Cabela's Club Visa by 0.01 percent, but the change wasn't big enough to affect the national average. Consumers who apply for a Cabela's card are now offered an APR ranging from 15.15 percent to 21.15 percent. 

Meanwhile, American Express introduced a higher annual fee to the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card. Frequent fliers who apply for the Platinum card after May 1, 2014, will be charged an annual fee of $195 per year. Previously, cardholders were charged $150 per year.

Consumers spending more, but wages remain stagnant
For the second month in a row, consumers substantially increased their spending, according to research released Jan. 31 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That, in turn, helped push up GDP, which increased by 3.2 percent in the final quarter of the year, according to a Jan. 30 report.

Consumers' willingness to spend may not last, as the Commerce Department also found that consumers' wages remained stagnant in December, after increasing just slightly in November.

Consumer spending rose by 0.4 percent in December. Revised estimates also show consumer spending increased by 0.6 percent the previous month -- the most it's grown since June. 

Overall, consumer spending rose by an estimated 3.3 percent in the final quarter of the year -- significantly beating economists' expectations.

Economists predicted consumer spending would increase somewhat in December, which is a traditionally strong spending month. However, economists didn't expect consumer spending would climb by nearly as much as it did.

According to a poll of 81 economists by Bloomberg News, most economists predicted that consumer spending would pick up by 0.2 percent or less.

The substantial increases in consumer spending over the past few months have helped fuel speculation that consumers may finally be starting to shed the cautious habits they acquired after the recession. However, additional research from the Commerce Department suggests consumers may have a hard time keeping pace with the amount they spent during the holidays.

For example, personal income rose by less than 0.1 percent in December, according to the Commerce Department. At the same time, disposable personal income -- the amount consumers have left over after taxes are taken out -- fell by the same amount.  

Meanwhile, revised figures also show that personal income increased by just 0.2 percent in November, after falling by 0.1 percent the previous month.

See related: Fed: banks keep tight grip on card loans, Fed holds off on rate increases

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