Overall, the credit card industry earned almost 6% less revenue in 2011 than during the previous year, in large part due to a decrease in the use of credit cards by shoppers and, as a result, less revolving credit that can be subjected to interest charges and fees. While come consumers have made a conscious effort to wean themselves off of spending on credit cards in an attempt to get a handle on their personal debt, others were forced into a credit card-free lifestyle during and after the Great Recession when many card issuers terminated the accounts of risky borrowers. Recent years have seen many lenders competing fiercely amongst themselves in order to pursue only the most creditworthy individuals.
Now with the nation’s economic situation slowly but steadily improving, credit card issuers are feeling more comfortable about relaxing their underwriting standards. This, combined with their acute need to acquire new cardholders in order to shore up some of their revenue losses of late, means that many lenders will looking beyond those with good and excellent credit scores in 2012. This opens up a whole slew of opportunities for people with less-than-perfect credit histories as they can reasonably expect lenders to increase their offering of credit cards for fair credit.
Consumers should beware of rising interest rates on borrowing as credit card issuers flounder to recoup some of their loss of earnings. In fact, experts have reported that going in to the New Year, the average interest rate on consumer credit cards is 15.14%, higher than the 14.75% APR that was the national average just six months ago. One option for consumers to find temporary reprieve from high interest rates is to look into 0 balance transfer credit cards which, when used wisely, can be an invaluable tool when it comes to handling debt.
Credit card companies are going to have to come up with some hard and fast ways to up their revenue over the coming year, whether they resort to raising interest rates, laying off employees, making more unsecured credit cards for bad credit available, some combination of the above or employing another technique altogether.