Punishing Rates on Rewards Cards
If you carry a balance, watch out. You could get charged 18% for a 1% reward.
(MONEY Magazine) – Sure, credit-card rates have inched up with each of the Fed's quarter-point rate hikes. But on some rewards cards, rates have soared, jumping as much as five percentage points at once. What gives? Competition to offer rich rewards, plus government-mandated higher minimum payments, has cut into issuers' bottom line. To boost profits, they're raising rates as far as they can. That makes it all the more important to pay off your balance quickly, especially since rates may rise further. If you're struggling, some rewards cards still offer 0% balance transfers (just don't use them for new purchases). And you can find rates lower than 15.4% (the rewards-card average), reports IndexCreditCards.com.
• JUST KEEP IT REAL Promotions with the phrase "as low as" typically require you to have pristine credit.
SAVINGS NOTES AND SOURCES: CD and money-market account data as of June 20 from 100 Highest Yields ($124 for 52 issues; 800-327-7717); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less. Average tax-exempt and taxable money-market fund yields for the week ended June 20 from Money Fund Report (imoneynet.com); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less and assets of $25 million or more. Average bond fund yields for the month ended May 31 from Lipper; all are medium- and high-quality funds without sales loads and with average maturities of three years or less.  Manager absorbed all or some operating expenses.  Closed to new investors, except Bank of America customers. CREDIT NOTES AND SOURCES: All rates subject to change. Credit-card rates are for standard cards as of June 20 from Bankrate.com and are variable unless otherwise indicated. Survey does not include Internet-0nly cards or AmEx Blue.  Fixed rate.  Visa only. Platinum and gold cards.