Credit Card Interest Rate Changes Step Out of the Spotlight

Plus other credit card news you may have missed this week

Weekly Credit Card News Lowdown

The financial product information on this page is accurate as of the time of posting; some of the offers mentioned may have expired since that time.

May has been filled with fickle news so far, such as the Gates’ divorce and cryptocurrency value swings, but credit card interest rates are a quiet constant in our lives. This week, the credit card industry also brought us news of a dog-friendly rewards card and several beefed-up welcome bonuses.

This credit card news roundup contains what you should know about the cards in your wallet and new product releases, offers, or reports that might not be as trendy as Dogecoin, but won’t give you stock market whiplash.

What’s the Lowdown?

Here’s what has caught our attention since April 30, 2021.

Credit Card Interest Rate Changes Step Out Of The Spotlight 

Unlike Bill and Melinda’s relationship status, credit card interest rates didn’t change significantly in April. The average credit card APR is now 20.28%, according to pricing data tracked by The Balance. That’s a skosh lower than it was in March, but exactly where it started the year.

The Balance recorded a handful of small offer changes in April, such as the updated U.S. Bank State Farm-branded card terms, and added the new United Quest Card to our data pool, which was enough to move the average rate needle a hair. More dramatic credit card interest rate changes are rare these days as the Federal Reserve holds its benchmark rate (the federal funds rate) near zero, which is keeping borrowing costs low for consumers.

The Fed cut its rate twice last spring, which sent credit card interest rates tumbling for a couple of months. Since then, the Fed has maintained a forecast that keeps interest rates low and steady for a while. Former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen caught us off guard Wednesday when she told The Atlantic rates may need to rise to counteract inflation driven by government spending, but don’t worry—for now, the cost of carrying a card balance is still lower than it was before the pandemic.

New Card Rewards Purchases Made For Your Furry Best Friend

Heads up, dog moms and cat dads. Credit One Bank and nonprofit animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society have partnered to launch a new credit card.

The Best Friends Credit Card, which debuted Tuesday, offers 5% back on up to $5,000 spent at eligible pet supply and food stores each year, and 1% back on everything else. Cardholders will also get discounts on Best Friends-branded merchandise and pet lodging. Credit One Bank will donate 1% back of all net purchases made using the Best Friends Credit Card to the nonprofit, too.

This is a niche card, but the pet-centric mission is pulling on our heartstrings. The earning rate on pet purchases is quite good, too. Unless you purchase pet goodies on Amazon or at a big-box store like Target or Walmart, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a card that offers 5% back on such expenses. 

Note that, like many other Credit One cards, the interest rate is above average for a rewards card (19.18%) and those with so-so credit may be charged a $39 annual fee.

Delta SkyMiles Cardholders: Be Nice To Your Flight Crew

Emotions may be running high after a cooped-up year, but don’t take stress or frustrations out on Delta Air Lines employees. It’s always a good idea to be kind, but now the miles and status earned with a Delta-branded credit card as a SkyMiles member may be on the line if you act out.

The airline has updated its frequent flyer program rules to include a clause stating it may terminate your SkyMiles Membership if you exhibit abusive behavior while on a Delta flight. Abusive behavior includes personal threats, swearing, or insults hurled at a Delta employee, or destruction of Delta property, among other things.

If Delta terminates your SkyMiles membership, waive buh-bye to all accumulated miles in your account, unused award flights, and all other SkyMiles benefits, such as elite status. You won’t be able to open a new SkyMiles account in the future, either.

If you’re a loyal Delta flyer and lean on a Delta-branded American Express card to earn travel rewards, keep this in mind when you start traveling again. Your airline card would lose a lot of its shine if you’re not part of the SkyMiles frequent flyer program anymore. 

What Else Is Happening?

  • Amex Blue Cards Offer New Cardholders Green On Amazon Purchases: If you open the Blue Cash Everyday or Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express right now, you can get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases made with your new card for the first six months. Earnings are capped at $150 and $200, respectively. That’s on top of more traditional welcome offers for meeting a spending requirement, too.
  • JetBlue Plus Card Bonus Got A Boost: Barclays added another 20,000 points to the JetBlue Plus Card welcome offer this week. Open the $99-per-year airline rewards card and spend $1,000 within three months and you’ll get 60,000 points, worth about $852 based on The Balance’s average point valuations. That’s a nice offer, particularly because of the low spending requirement. Other mid-level airline cards require new cardholders to spend $2,000-$2,500 to get a comparable bonus right now.
  • Frontier Airlines Card Now Waives First Annual Fee: Another Barclays airline card update landed: this one for budget airline Frontier. If you open the Frontier Airlines Mastercard right now, you won’t have to pay the $79 annual fee for the first year. That adds a bit more value to this low-key card, especially if you’re eyeing cheap flights this year.