We’re slowly pulling ourselves out of one of the worst financial crises in history. True, unemployment is still high, but it’s stabilized, and in some states it’s actually come down. People are starting to spend more; that is, if the weather allows them to leave the house.

Credit card offers have started going out again. However, the bet is that you’re not getting as many offers as you were getting before. That plus interest rates are higher than they used to be. And sometimes, even if you’ve been offered a nice deal up front, you may end up with a worse deal than what you thought you were getting because the banks ended up being a little worried about either your credit score or income level.

Overall, interest rates are around the highest average that they’ve ever been, which is close to 15%. Fewer cards are offering 0% interest, and those that are will have interest rates as high as 19.8% once the introductory period of over. That’s pretty steep, and a far cry from just over 3 years ago when you’d get the same introductory deal turning into 4.99%; yes, I remember those days.

The one thing the credit card reform act didn’t touch was interest rates. You might remember our writing about a bank called First Premier that had a “deal” for people who had bad credit, giving them a card with a 79.9% interest rate. And the balance on that card was only $300, but at least you had credit. They’ve brought that rate down to 59.9% now; how nice of them.

This country was built on credit, and now credit is hard to come by. That’s to be expected, and it probably should have been harder for some people to get, at least at the amounts they were being approved for. If you want a mortgage, you can still get a killer deal at some banks of less than 4.5%; if you can afford it, you need to jump on that. But for credit cards, it’s probably best to start learning how to save for those specialty items you want.

After all, that’s how most of our parents did it.

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