Consumer Payment Card News

9.00% Prime Rate

The Feds did it again ! For the second time this year the FOMC voted today to raise interest rates driving the Prime Rate to 9%. As a result, American credit cardholders will shell out an extra $19 in interest charges over the next twelve months. Totally Americans will see interest charges soar by $1.4 billion over the next year. Of the 78 million U.S. households that have at least one credit card, the average balance is now $7,564 and the average interest rate is 17.99%. The Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise its target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 6.00%. In a related action today, the Board of Governors approved a 25 basis point increase in the discount rate to 5.50%. Banks are expected to raise Prime Rates to 9.00% during the next twenty-four hours. About 65% of the nation’s credit card issuers adjust rates monthly, while the other half adjust quarterly. This means many cardholders will see this week’s rate hike in their April statements while others will see it in their May statements. As of year-end 1999, American consumers have racked up $462 billion in bank credit card debt and $88 billion in retail (store, gas, etc ) credit card debt.

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