Consumer Payment Card News

Rate Range

Interest rates on bank credit cards have widened as a result of the eleven rate cuts by the Feds last year. Card rates, after the introductory periods, now range from 4.75% to 35.00%, the widest spread ever. Chase offers the lowest rate on its ‘Prime Card’ at 4.75%, while CompuCredit charges a 35% rate for its ‘Aspire VISA’ card. Other issuers at the top end of spectrum include Direct Merchants, Providian, First North American, and Sears. Direct Merchants charges APRs as high as 25.99%, while Providian offers a 23.99% rate. However Providian has been raising rates to 29.99% on some existing cardholders. First North American, a unit of Circuit City, charges a 21.90% rate for its bank credit card program. Sears also charges a 21.90% for its ‘Gold MasterCard’. Most of the issuers levying the higher rates issue cards to consumers with less than desirable credit records. The average interest rate charged for unsecured, sub-prime credit cards is 20.73%, compared to an average rate for middle-market or prime cards of 14.22%, according to CardData (www.carddata.com).

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