Consumers with so-so credit should expect rates on variable-rate credit cards to inch up throughout 2015, as issuers continue to "price for the risk" associated with lending to them, McBride says.
Consumers with stellar credit scores may see an increase in rates as well, once the Fed starts to raise the federal funds rate -- a move McBride predicts will come toward the second half of the year.
"Once the Fed gets active, rates will shadow the Fed," he says, and zero percent interest and extended balance transfer offers will dwindle. "The day we're no longer in a near-zero interest rate environment, you're going to see fewer of those around."
Interest rates on credit cards are based on a contractual floating-index rate, usually the prime rate that commercial banks charge creditworthy customers, which is normally tied to the federal funds rate.
Lenders typically add a margin to the prime rate, such as 2 percentage points, to determine the annual percentage rate on credit cards.
Richard Crone, CEO of Crone Consulting LLC in San Carlos, California, says issuers may use market forces as an excuse to push rates higher. Still, "it's a very competitive market," he says.
Crone predicts issuers will use rates to move customers on to mobile payment platforms, with enhanced security features to keep card fraud down.
"We will see in the coming year the extension of preferential rates based on the actual way you pay," Crone says.