Credit card lenders step up offers despite faltering economy


Photo (c) Liam Norris – Getty Images

You may notice that you receive more credit card offers in the mail. Despite inflation and fears of a slowing economy, credit card companies are stepping up their efforts to recruit new customers.

The Wall Street Journal reports that American Express, Capital One and Discover have all committed new funds to their marketing budgets, suggesting that executives at these lenders believe consumers will continue to spend.

In fact, consumers continue to spend despite recession fears. JPMorgan Chase reports that consumers spent more than $271 billion using plastic in the second quarter. That’s 33% more than they spent in the fourth quarter of 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many consumers charge more but do not repay the balance. VantageScore reports that Gen Z consumers increased their credit card balances by 30% in the second quarter.

Check your credit

With banks so willing to lend, what should consumers look for when considering a new credit card? According to ConsumerAffairs research, your current financial situation and credit history should determine the best credit card for you.

First, check your credit score. Cards with the best terms are generally reserved for consumers with good to excellent credit.

Next, think about how you are going to use the card. If you have a high interest rate card with a balance, it may be more beneficial to get a balance transfer card with a 0% initial interest rate.

Many credit cards offer generous rewards, but pending legislation could put those benefits at risk. A Senate bill would give businesses more credit processing options, which would likely lower the fees credit card companies collect with every purchase.

Should the bill become law, Scott Lieberman, founder of TouchdownMoney.comsays there could be unpleasant repercussions for consumers with generous rewards cards.

“Caps on credit card fees can make issuers nervous about their lucrative rewards programs,” Lieberman told ConsumerAffairs. “They will need to re-evaluate customer lifetime value (CLV) for people with rewards cards, as card fees paid by others may no longer be enough to offset bonus programs.

Interest rate may matter more

Every time the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, it puts upward pressure on credit card interest rates. If you think you have a balance, applying for a card with a low interest rate, or even an introductory rate of 0%, can save you more money than a cash back rewards card. A low credit score usually means a higher interest rate, but there are credit cards specifically marketed to consumers with less than perfect credit.

Consumers rebuilding their credit might consider a secured credit card. The account is secured by an initial deposit, which sets the credit limit. Just make sure the card issuer reports payments to all three credit reporting agencies. Not all secured lenders do this.

Finally, when researching credit card deals, take advantage of ConsumerAffairs’ guide to the best credit cards to help you decide.

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