If you listen or read financial news, you can hear a lot about the key interest rate. It is one of the most important prices when it comes to borrowing money. The base rate is the interest rate that banks use to charge their highest credit rating customers. It is usually the lowest interest rate anyone could qualify for. In order to get the key interest rate on a loan, you need an excellent credit score.
The US base rate is the national base rate as published by the Wall Street Journal, which is based on the base rate calculated by the nation’s largest banks. The US base rate is typically around 3% higher than the Federal Fund Rate and is on the Wall Street Journal website.
How the Prime Rate Affects Your Credit Card Rate
Many credit cards base their variable interest rates on the base rate. A variable interest rate is one that changes based on another interest rate.
For example, the APR on a credit card could be the base rate plus 13%. The interest rate your credit card issuer charges on top of the base rate is known as the “spread”. In our example the spread is 13%. If the base rate was 3.25%, the current APR on this variable rate card would be 16.25%. That means that the base rate has a direct, but usually small, impact on the financing costs you pay on your credit card if you carry a balance. The higher the base rate, the more you will pay to turn a credit card balance. You can at all avoid interest in paying credit card balance in full every month.
If your credit card has a floating rate based on the base rate, your credit card interest rate will follow the move of the base rate. If the prime rate goes up, you can expect your credit card interest rate to rise soon. On the other hand, if the key rate goes down, your credit card interest rate should go down.
Credit card companies do not have to give advance interest rate changes if you have a floating rate. You can watch for interest rate news (interest rate changes are usually in the headlines) or by watching prices for possible changes in the interest rate published in the Wall Street Journal. Your current interest rate will be published on your credit card statement. Monitor your statement closely to catch changes in your interest rate due to prime rate changes.
What if the prime rate increases?
When the key rate increases so that your interest rate will increase. And when your credit card interest rate increases, so does the interest you pay on credit card balances that you carry. In order to reduce the effects of the increased financing costs, you can pay out your credit quickly. Transferring your balance to a credit card with a 0% introductory rate is another option. Finally, if your card has a good reputation and you have a good credit rating, you may have kept your credit card issuer ready to lower your interest rate if you ask nicely.
Does your credit card use the prime rate?
The section of your credit card contract entitled “How we calculate and determine the price” will tell you how your credit card issuer sets your rate and how you can adjust your credit card rate if the key interest rate fits. If your credit card interest rate is based on the base rate, you will see a section with language such as “APRs will vary with the market based on the prime rate.”