Credit card interest rates are expected to rise in 2017. Keep in mind, they were supposed to rise much higher than they did in 2016.
That’s because the biggest influencer of credit card rates — the Fed — suggested it would hike short-term interest rates four times in 2016. It did so only once. For 2017, it going for three increases.
“The rate on your credit card is going to mimic any moves the Federal Reserve makes in 2017 and beyond,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s senior vice president and chief financial analyst.
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Even if you’re skeptical, keep a close eye on what the Fed does. When it resets the federal funds rate, the contractual floating-index rate that card interest rates are based on also will move.
If the Fed sticks with three rate hikes this year, any balance you carry today at 16 percent would increase to 16.75 percent. Make only the minimum monthly payment, and it can cost you hundreds of dollars more in increased interest charges to pay off your debt.
If you anticipate higher rates, now is the time to grab an introductory credit card offer with zero-percent-interest. McBride says those offers — plentiful today — will become harder to obtain as interest rates increase.
At the very least, you should examine the fastest way to pay down debt.