KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The holiday shopping season is just weeks away. If you haven’t already started, we want you to know about the average percentage rate for credit cards. The APR for retail credit cards has reached a new record high of nearly 29% this year.
At one time, 30% was the high end for retail credit card APRs. However, increasing debt among those who use retail cards is partially responsible for the sudden rise in these credit card charges. Swiping your credit card at a retail store, or entering your numbers if you pay credit online, has become more expensive if you carry your payment over.
“So one of the problems right now is that credit card debt in the US has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in history,” said John Fawaz, a Knoxville financial expert.
Fawaz said soaring annual interest rates on some credit cards is unprecedented. Some of the highest retail credit card APR rates come in at 33.24%, according to Bankrate. The average store-only credit card charge is 30.24% and that’s up from 28.22% last year.
“Most people when they get a credit card, they think, ‘Oh, I’m disciplined, I’ll pay it off in a month. I’m using it because it is convenient’,” said Fawaz.
A recent Bankrate survey found that 47% of credit cardholders carry a balance month to month. 60% of those carrying card balances have been in credit card debt for at least a year.
“Defaults on credit cards have gone up. This is probably the highest delinquency percentage in the past seven years,” said Fawaz.
If you carry a balance on a retail credit card, why is it best to pay it off as soon as you can?
“Somebody that doesn’t pay their credit card on that first year, will pay up to 33% they are actually paying for those people who paid off their credit cards earlier,” said Fawaz.
On a $1,000 balance, if you make minimum payments at 28.93% you’d be in debt for 50 months and owe $715 dollars in interest. In addition, some retail cards come with deferred interest promotions like the 12 months at zero percent, meaning you could be in trouble if you don’t pay it off quickly.
“Don’t hide if you can’t pay it. A lot of people ignore the credit card companies or are late. You don’t want to be late. If you have problems, call the credit card company, talk to them. Or your bank, where ever you borrowed the money from. Most of the time they are willing to work with you to find a strategy because they want your business,” said Fawaz.
The financial experts say to think twice before you apply for a store credit card, or co-branded retail credit card, that offers a 10% off signup bonus. The reason is when you compare the average credit card card’s interest rate of about 21% with the average store credit card rate of around 29%. It’s clear that you’ll pay a whole lot more in interest charges if you don’t pay off your balance by the end of your store card’s “promotional deferred” interest period.