How to save hundreds of dollars on your credit card payments

Good Question: What’s the best way to pay off debt?

Good Question: What’s the best way to pay off debt?


When it comes to credit cards and the banks that issue them, bigger is most definitely not better — at least for customers.

That’s because small banks and credit unions typically offer far better credit card terms and interest rates than the largest issuers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a new report. In fact, the 25 largest card issuers charged customers interest rates that were eight to 10 percentage points higher than the rates on products from smaller lenders and credit unions, according to the federal agency. 

Notably, even for consumers with a strong credit score that can amount to hundreds of dollars in additional interest payments per year, the CFPB said. The median interest rate for people with good credit — a score between 620 and 719 — was 28.20% on cards from from large issuers and 18.15% for small issuers, according to the findings. 

For the average cardholder with a balance of $5,000 the difference translates to $400 to $500 in additional annual interest.

“Our analysis found that the largest credit card companies are charging substantially higher interest rates than smaller banks and credit unions,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in statement.  

The findings are based on an analysis of 643 credit cards from 156 issuers, including 84 banks and 72 credit unions, offered during the first half of 2023. 

Credit card issuers tend to promote rewards programs and sign up bonuses, but bury the actual interest rate and penalty fees, Adam Rust, director of financial services at the Consumer Federation of America, told CBS MoneyWatch.

“The advice here is to be proactive about calling local banks and credit unions, rather than just responding to an offer that comes in the mail or through your browser, as those are most likely from the large issuers,” he told CBS MoneyWatch.

The CFPB’s findings are less relevant to the roughly half of consumers who pay off their credit cards every month, noted Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at consumer financial services company Bankrate. “For those people, interest doesn’t matter. Connected to that, big banks do tend to offer better rewards.”

Mounting financial stress

Large banks don’t only typically charge higher interest rates — they’re also more likely to charge annual fees, the CFPB found. Among large issuers’ credit cards, 27% carried an annual fee, versus 9.5% of small issuers, according to the agency. The yearly fee averaged $157 for the largest issuers, compared with $94 for smaller financial firms.

For Americans, the interest and fees are contributing to what is a growing mountain of debt. Credit card balances stood at $1.13 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2023, up $50 billion, or 4.6%, from the the prior three-month period, according to recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. More consumers are falling behind on their payments, with 5.4% of credit card debt behind by 90 days or more, up from 4% in the final quarter of 2022.

“Credit card and auto loan transitions into delinquency are still rising above pre-pandemic levels,” Wilbert van der Klaauw, economic research adviser at the New York Fed said in a statement. “This signals increased financial stress, especially among younger and lower-income households.”

Survey: Nearly half of consumers carry credit card debt from month to month


Nearly half of credit card users carry a balance from one month to the next, up a full 10 percentage points from 2021, according to Bankrate. Of those who revolve their balances, 58% — 56 million people — have been in debt for at least one year, according to the company. 

“We know from our data that it’s about half and half — for every one person getting cash back, or airline miles, unfortunately there is someone else paying a high interest rate,” Rossman said.”A lot of people have credit card debt for very practical reasons. It’s a tough cycle to break.” 

The National Foundation for Credit Card Counseling offers nonprofit, certified counseling at, and the Federal Trade Commission offers tip for getting out of debt hereAmerica Saves, a non-profit campaign by the Consumer Federation of America, also offers tips and guidance. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *