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Credit card interest rates hold steady at 15 percent

Kelly Dilworth

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

None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15 percent Wednesday for the third straight week.

Credit card terms have remained stable for three years now, with average APRs ticking up very slowly, according to CreditCards.com data.  

The average APR for 2014 is currently 15.03 percent. In 2013, the average APR for the year was 14.98 percent and in 2012, it was 14.96 percent.  

The national average has remained at 15 percent or above for the past 21 consecutive weeks. Average card APRs have also remained above 14.9 percent for nearly two years. The last time average rates fell below 14.9 percent was in February 2012.

Severe weather blamed for slow economic start
An unusually cold winter is casting a pall on the U.S. economy and some experts say it could be helping to slow down the economic recovery.   

According to multiple reports, manufacturing orders slowed substantially in January, in part because of harsher winter weather. Fewer people bought new cars last month, compared to the year before.

Research released Feb. 12 also shows retail sales were negatively affected.

According to First Data's SpendTrend report, spending growth slowed in January after picking up significantly in December.

First Data reports spending on plastic payment cards, including credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards, grew by 2.5 percent last month, down from 3.4 percent the month before. Analysts at First Data say consumers had a harder time leaving home in January because of multiple winter storms across the Midwest and East Coast, which helped push down overall retail sales.

"The harsh winter weather conditions in January subdued some of the consumer spending growth and negatively impacted shopper foot-traffic," said First Data's Krish Mantripragada in a press release.  

Despite spending less than they may have otherwise, consumers did use their credit cards more often last month, which could indicate consumers are feeling more confident overall about taking risks with credit.

According to the report, consumers charged 4.1 percent more to their cards than the month before. They spent approximately 3.7 percent more on debit.

"Spending on credit continued to exhibit healthy growth in January as lending standards continued to ease and consumer confidence levels remained relatively positive," said Mantripragada in the release.

A separate report, released Feb. 7 by the Federal Reserve, underscored that trend. According to the Federal Reserve's report on household debt and credit, consumers' credit card balances swelled in December for the third consecutive month.

See related: Fed: Banks keep tight grip on card loans, Fed: Card balances leap in December