PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Do you carry a balance on your credit card each month? While credit card interest rates have largely been in a holding pattern for the past few years, don’t expect that to last much longer. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan explains why and shows you one way to prepare yourself.
In all likelihood the Federal Reserve Bank will soon raise interest rates for the first time since 2006. When the Fed raises rates, it costs banks more to borrow money. Those extra costs eventually get passed down to consumers in the form of higher interest rates on lots of things, including credit cards.
As the holiday shopping season gets into full gear, it looks like everyone is pulling out credit cards, and credit card companies make it easy. According to Matt Schulz, Senior Industry Analyst at CreditCards.com, “It’s such a competitive time now for the credit card industry that they’re doing whatever they can to attract customers.” In fact every time that you turn around it seems there’s another offer credit card offer in the mail in the mail.
When the Fed raises rates, interest rates on credit cards will likely follow. Costing Americans an estimated $7.6 billion more annually on their credit cards. Schulz says, “Keep in mind that rates are probably going to be trending up in the near future so it’s something you need to prepare yourself for.” Now may be the time to consider a balance transfer offer. Schulz says, “So it makes it a really good time to jump on these deals while they’re still there.”
CreditCards.com surveyed 100 different credit cards and found several that may be worth your while. The first is Slate by Chase. It offers 0% interest for 15 months. Schulz says, “Which is longer than the average period and if you make the transfer within 60 days of getting the card there’s zero, there’s no balance transfer fee and that can be a really good savings.”
Another good choice is the Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards card. It has a shorter zero interest rate, only 9 months, but Schulz says, “There’s no balance transfer fee at all.”
Finally, there is the Citi Diamond Preferred card. It has the longest zero percent interest rate, period 21 months. Schulz says, “Which is a really long time, but it’s important to know that that one does come with a balance transfer fee.”
When credit card interests do rise, they most likely will rise gradually. While zero percent balance transfer offers aren’t likely to disappear. Consumers will probably see them offered for shorter periods of time, and with higher fees.
One important thing to know about most balance transfers offers is that if you don’t make that transfer within 30, 60, or 90 days after getting the card, you can lose that zero percent offer all together. So be sure to read the fine print.
For more information on the credit cards mentioned in this report click the links below:
Slate by Chase:
Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards:
Citi Diamond Preferred: