March got off to an encouraging start this week: there was good news from the jobs sector and a couple of exciting new credit card partnerships and programs were announced.
Credit-Land.com reports that the current average interest rate on purchases is sitting at a 14.97% APR while the average rate for balance transfers remains the same as last week`s 12.5% APR, and the dollar rose in value against the yen and the euro.
The Labor Department confirms that employment rose steadily for the third month in a row, with227,000 jobs added during the month of February. The unemployment rate is now at a three-year low of 8.3%, with more Americans returning to the workforce – a welcome sign that the economy is in recovery, despite Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke warning last week that the labor market is still “far from normal.”
A new credit card from Barclays – the Ring MasterCard – was announced and heralded as the first “crowdsourced” credit card; Credit-Land.com covered the story. The Ring card features no annual fee and carries no fees for balance transfers. It won`t penalize late payments with a higher rate and will give all cardholders a flat interest rate of 8% – significantly lower than the national average. The Ring MasterCard doesn`t offer any rewards programs, instead giving cardholders an opportunity to participate in discussions about card policies in an online forum.
Two exciting partnerships were announced this week – the first between Barclays and Apple, offering 0% interest financing for 6-12 months on Apple purchases, including the new iPad, which is now available for preorder and appears in stores March 16. The move may push more customers to purchase the latest iPad, since they can stretch their purchase over 6 interest-free months. A buyer of a no-frills iPad will pay only $85 a month for 6 months, instead of forking over $499 all at once.
The second interesting partnership is between American Express and social media giant Twitter, as AMEX hopes that Twitterers will tweet for their rewards. Twitter users who are also AMEX cardholders will be able to get discounts by using certain hashtags to label their tweets and tweeting about deals to their followers.
Terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but the rewards are expected to be of the “Buy $50 worth of items, get $10 back” variety, according to AMEX vice-chairman Ed Gilligan. Partnering merchants who had signed up as of Tuesday`s launch included Best Buy, Dell, McDonald`s, Ticketmaster and Whole Foods.
As social media continues to revolutionize the way the world, and credit card companies, do business, and the economic picture continues to brighten, springtime is indeed right around the corner. Will March winds blow in April showers and follow up with May flowers? Time will tell, but the future sure looks bright from here.