Interest rates hit a new high

Some records are meant to be broken, and the world applauds. Think Jesse Owens and the 1935 Berlin Olympics with the 100 meter race. Or, Florence Joyner and the 200 meters at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. And even Babe Ruth with 714 homers in 22 seasons.

But new highs are less fun to watch when it comes to credit cards, especially if you’re a consumer facing the latest levels of inflation or interest rate challenges.

Credit card rates are rising

Today’s reading comes from Bankrate, where the company maintains a tracker of average consumer interest rates dating back to 1985. Today’s high: Current credit card interest rates hit 19, 04%. According to their press release, the previous high was 19.00% in July 1991.

The numbers vary from the benchmark site tracked by Mercator, which is run by the Federal Reserve, but the outlook is different. At the Fed, you’ll see data up to date through August 2022, where the assessed rate on all accounts hit an all-time high of 16.27% in August 2022, reported Oct. 7. This record number surpassed the previous record of 16.10% in May. 1995. But things get worse. For interest-bearing accounts, which excludes those on zero-rate introductory offers and payment workouts, the rate jumped over the same period, from 16.65% to 18.43%.

The question of interest is related to the household budget, which you can read here. A thirty-year fixed mortgage is in the 8% range, plunging residential sales to 603,000 units in September, according to the Census Bureau. A rate of new cars at BoA is now close to 5%.

Breaking records is often fun to watch, but here you can feel the pain.

For my part, I prefer to encourage Aaron Judge for his #62 home run, ahead of Roger Maris.

Preview by Brian RileyDirector, Credit Advisory Services at Groupe Conseil Mercator.

Leslie M. Gill