Fed increases key interest rate: What it means for you


The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it will be increasing the key rate – the interest rate that determines bank lending rates and the cost of credit — by a quarter of a percentage point.

It is the first increase in the rate in nine years, and signals a growing confidence in a strengthening economy.

What an increase in interest rates could mean for you


The cost of borrowing to buy a home will go up, but only slightly to begin with. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 3.8% now – this time last year it was around 4.3%. If the Fed increases rates again soon after the first of the year – as many believe they may – you may see more of a pinch. The increase in the interest on a mortgage payment for a home loan of $225,000 would be about $25 per month.

The flip side is that credit can become “looser” or more easy to get. With higher interest rates, banks may be more willing to issue home and other loans – they will make more money.

Read more: 15 ways to shop for a better mortgage rate


Auto loans:

They will go up, too. But again, the effect will not be dramatic and will likely not be seen for the next few months. With manufacturers’ incentives including zero interest rate loans and the typical five-year loan at around 3 to 4%, consumers may not see a big hit to the wallet.  If the Fed should raise interest rates up to 1 point by the end of 2016, it would add about $16 a month to an average $25,000 car loan.

Read more: The best auto insurance companies

Saving accounts:

You may have more incentive to save if interest rates are increased. Why? Because you will earn more money on your savings.

Credit cards and home equity loans:

Here is where you can see a more immediate effect. Credit cards and home equity loans have variable rates – rates that are not set — but are tied to the Prime Rate. The Prime Rate is the interest rate charged by top U.S. commercial banks to their best customers. You can expect to see an immediate increase in the interest rate on credit card balances. The increase in the interest owed on credit card debt if the Fed raises the interest rate a quarter of a point would be minimal, depending on how much you owe. An example from Forbes: If you owe $5,000 and have an interest rate of 15.25% and your monthly payment is 113.54 (principle and interest), then the payment would increase to $114.58 per month if the interest rate is hiked .25% to 15.50%.


Retirees could see more:

Those depending on investments for their retirement income could be happy with a higher interest rate as retirement savings would benefit.

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