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Insights for Consumers Struggling with Credit Card Debt Ahead of the Holiday Season

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Understanding Credit Card Delinquencies and Holiday Financing Options

The latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reveals that consumers are increasingly making credit card payments 30 days late or more, driven by the pressure of inflation and rising interest rates. This upward trend in "credit card delinquencies" is expected to continue during the holiday season. It is crucial to understand the implications of being delinquent on credit card payments, as it can negatively impact your credit score, affecting interest rates on loans, insurance premiums, and even job prospects.

Key Terminology to Know

As consumers shop for holiday gifts, it is essential to familiarize themselves with key credit card terms. One crucial term is the annual percentage rate (APR), which represents the interest rate or cost paid annually to borrow money for purchases. Current card rates are near record highs, with an average APR exceeding 21% for credit cards and nearly 30% for retail store credit cards. Shoppers must be aware of the potentially high APRs associated with store credit cards, as some retail cards can have interest rates as high as 35%.

Exploring 0% APR Cards

To avoid paying interest altogether, obtaining a "0% APR" card is the ideal borrowing strategy. These cards offer a period during which no interest is charged, allowing consumers to borrow money for purchases without incurring interest costs. The best 0% APR cards provide up to 21 months of interest-free borrowing, meaning that interest charges may not apply to purchases made until August 2025. However, it is crucial to monitor the end of the 0% interest period, as the rate will eventually spike to the national average or higher. With rising interest rates, this could result in interest charges of 25% or more.

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) Options

Another popular holiday financing method offered by major retailers and app-based lenders is the "buy now, pay later" (BNPL) plan. BNPL products, also known as point-of-sale installment loans, allow consumers to make purchases and pay for them over time after an initial upfront payment. While BNPL plans typically do not charge interest, they may impose fees, especially if payments are missed. However, caution is advised when using these plans, as they can lead to overspending. Unlike credit cards, BNPL plans have a shorter window for repayment, offering less flexibility in payment schedules. In conclusion, as consumers navigate holiday shopping and financing, understanding credit card delinquencies and the available options is crucial. Familiarizing oneself with key credit card terms, considering 0% APR cards, and being cautious with BNPL plans can help make informed financial decisions during the holiday season and beyond.

Implications of Credit Card Delinquencies and Financing Options on New Business Formation

The rising trend in credit card delinquencies, as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, indicates a shift in consumer behavior that could significantly impact new businesses, particularly those in the retail sector.

Consumer Behavior and Business Strategies

As consumers grapple with inflation and rising interest rates, late credit card payments are increasing. This trend could lead to a domino effect, affecting not only credit scores and interest rates on loans but also the financial health of businesses relying on timely payments.

Role of APR Awareness

The heightened awareness around annual percentage rates (APRs) could also influence business strategies. With consumers becoming more conscious of high APRs, particularly on retail store credit cards, businesses might need to rethink their credit offerings to retain customer loyalty.

Impact of 0% APR Cards

The increasing popularity of 0% APR cards, offering interest-free borrowing, presents a double-edged sword for businesses. While these cards can stimulate consumer spending, the eventual spike in interest rates could lead to an increase in delinquencies, affecting businesses' cash flow.

BNPL Plans: A New Financing Trend

The rise of "buy now, pay later" (BNPL) plans could also reshape the business landscape. These plans, offering consumers the flexibility to make purchases and pay over time, could drive sales for businesses. However, they also come with risks, including potential overspending by consumers and increased delinquencies. In essence, the changing dynamics of consumer credit behavior, the growing awareness of APRs, and the rise of alternative financing options like 0% APR cards and BNPL plans could have far-reaching implications for new businesses, necessitating strategic adjustments to navigate these trends effectively.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/11/08/more-struggle-with-credit-card-debt-what-to-know-this-holiday-season.html
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