Here’s a look at the state of interest rates on five common consumer banking products and the latest rates from’s weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted April 9, 2003.


Rate: 5.90 percent (30-year fixed)

The past week has seen mortgage rates climb as troops descended on Baghdad, then fall upon renewed economic concerns, but wind up only slightly changed. The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage inched higher, from 5.89 percent to 5.9 percent. The 15-year fixed mortgage popular for refinancing also climbed modestly, from 5.18 percent to 5.21 percent. With attention again shifting to the struggling economy, borrowers should continue to see ample opportunity to capture low rates for purchases and refinancing alike.


Yields: 1.28 percent (1-year CD yield)

Certificate of deposit yields remain in the cellar and with economic weakness gaining renewed focus, more downward pressure on yields can be expected. In the waning days of war, the disappointing economic data that has prevailed in recent weeks will be fully digested, after being initially ignored. Lousy economic data and lackluster loan demand have kept yields on a downward trend, and speculation of further Federal Reserve action will fuel the downward trend.

Auto loans

Rates: 7.54 percent (48-month, new car); 8.58 percent (36-month, used car)

New-car loans for three-year, four-year, and five-year terms were all unchanged since last week. Used-car loans edged slightly higher, from 8.55 percent to 8.58 percent. The last time used-car loan rates increased was the week of Feb. 5, when rates inched up from 8.89 percent to 8.9 percent. Since that time, rates dropped nearly every week before hitting 8.55 percent last week. Rates may resume the downward slide in coming weeks, especially if the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates again.

Home equity products

Rates: 4.71 percent (line of credit); 7.53 percent (loan)

Rates on both fixed-rate home equity loans and variable-rate lines of credit were unchanged over the past week, a stark contrast from one week ago. Rates on both products dropped last week as the beginning of a new month and new calendar quarter brought about heightened volatility. With so much re-pricing of loan products happening last week, the ensuing weeks are likely to show a lack of re-pricing. All this could change however, if the Fed were to intervene and cut interest rates again.

Credit Cards

Rates: 13.81 percent (standard fixed); 13.27 percent (standard variable)

Standard variable-rate credit cards were the only class showing any movement this week, and very slight movement it was, with the average dropping 1 basis point to 13.27 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point. All other classes were unchanged. Regardless of how far credit card rates have dropped in the past two years, they are not an attractive form of financing and represent debt that must be aggressively paid down.

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