Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

The best time to get a new credit card is right now

Dec. 2, 2016 CNN Money

Introductory bonuses, reward rates, and no-interest introductory periods are all more generous than ever, and the industry average for annual fees continues to decline.

When lenders compete, consumers win

In recent years, competition among credit card issuers has heated up — especially for consumers with great credit. It makes sense, as credit card debt comes with relatively high interest rates. Borrowers with excellent credit pay an average interest rate of more than 13% on credit card purchases, even though this group has little risk of defaulting.

To attract lucrative customers, credit card issuers have been consistently trying to one-up each other when it comes to introductory bonuses, 0% APR periods, and the rate at which cards earn rewards. Not long ago, a 21-month 0% APR period or a 2% reward rate on all purchases was unheard-of; now it’s readily available.

According to WalletHub’s credit card landscape report, here are some of the consumer-friendly trends in the credit card industry.

The value of initial rewards bonuses hit a record high during the third quarter, with an average of $101.48 in cash or 15,664 points/miles. New applicants can now get 313% more cash or 123% more points/miles than they could in 2010.

The average 0% APR introductory period for new purchases is 9.8 months, up 2.3% from a year ago.

The average cash-back rewards rate has risen 2% from last year, and the average initial bonus has grown by 2.3%.

For points/miles cards, the average initial bonus is up by 9.4% over the past year.

The average annual fee has fallen for five straight quarters, down 5.85% over the past year.

Foreign transaction fees have been falling and are now 20% lower than at the beginning of 2011.

One downside is that interest rates have been increasing slightly. Credit cards typically have variable interest rates, and given the widespread anticipation that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December, it appears that credit card companies are adjusting their rates upward to compensate.

But I’m not saying this is the best time to carry a credit card balance. Rather, now is an excellent time to take advantage of lucrative introductory bonuses and 0% APR offers. If you can do that without paying the credit card issuers a dime in interest, then you’ll be a big winner.

Read More on CNN Money

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

How to Dispute Mistakes On Your Credit Report

Do your research and know who to connect with.

Read More

These 5 tricks will help you spend less this holiday season

You don't have to choose between spending a lot or skimping on gifts this year.

Read More

The Fed did it, again.

How another supersize rate hike may shake up your finances.

Read More

What is an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage?

When does it make sense to choose an ARM?

Read More

Your Values Can Be Compromised When You're Under Stress

Here's How to Get Them Aligned Again

Read More

Green vs traditional Mediterranean diet

Which is best for burning internal (visceral) fat?

Read More

Why We All Should Get Screened for Anxiety

The importance of diagnosing and treating anxiety.

Read More

9 Ways To Make Divorce Easier On Kids

Divorce is hard on everyone involved. But it can be especially tough on kids

Read More