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Credit card companies hike rates to record highs, CFPB reports

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  • Staff Report 

Credit card companies are raising interest rates to unprecedented levels, imposing an extra financial burden on borrowers, according to a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report. This surge in annual percentage rates (APR) results in higher profit margins for lenders at the expense of consumers, costing cardholders an estimated $25 billion in excess interest in 2023 alone. The average credit card APR has risen sharply, reaching its highest level in decades, with the profit margins generated from these rates also hitting record highs.

The CFPB’s analysis indicates that the APR margin, the rate charged by card issuers beyond their basic lending costs, has significantly increased over the last ten years. This hike in interest rates contributes to a cycle of debt for many consumers, where they end up paying more in interest and fees than they do towards the principal balance of their debt. The report’s release comes amid concerns over the potential impact of the Capital One-Discover merger on market competition and consumer choice.

The findings have sparked debate among industry representatives and consumer advocates, with some defending the rate increases as necessary to cover rising borrowing costs and risk, while others accuse credit card companies of exploiting consumers. The CFPB suggests that consolidation in the credit card industry could exacerbate these issues, highlighting the need for greater scrutiny of APR-setting practices amidst growing financial pressures on American households.

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