Best moves to make now: Credit cards

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No new action from the Fed on interest rates means little will change for credit card customers.

Thanks to November’s interest rate cut, some consumers started off 2003 with lower financing charges on holiday credit card bills.

Most variable-rate cards are linked to The Wall Street Journal prime rate, which usually rises and falls at the same pace as the Fed’s rate changes. In November, the Fed cut short-term rates by a half-point, and some consumers saw a similar rate cut in their variable-rate credit card bills in December or January.

But many more variable-rate card customers saw no change in the interest rates they pay. The reason? They’ve already hit the floor or minimum APR allowed on their cards.

Once you’ve hit the floor on a credit card, your interest rate won’t drop any lower even when the Fed cuts rates. So any future rate cut will mean as little to you as this month’s lack of action.

About 55 percent of all credit cards are variable-rate cards.

Best moves now:
If your card’s interest rate has hit the deck, consider transferring the balance to a card that’s offering a lower rate. The average rate on a standard variable-rate card was 13.27 percent on April 30; the average rate on a standard fixed-rate card was 13.72 percent. Several major card issuers are offering cards with zero-percent introductory rates.

Compare credit cards using’s credit card search.