Fed signals March rate hike – here’s what that means for your wallet
The Fed will keep rates at 0% for February
At the Federal Reserve's January meeting on Wednesday, it signaled plans to change its monetary policy and raise interest rates in March to combat rising inflation.
The central bank elected to hold the federal funds rate at its target range of 0% to 0.25% for February, keeping interest rates low for now as it ends its asset purchases. But inflation increased by 7% annually in December, the highest increase in 40 years, so the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will soon begin interest rate hikes in an effort to bring it back down.
"Today’s clear signal from the Federal Reserve that they will hike rates in March was no surprise, given the strong job market and inflation well above the 2% target," Mike Fratantoni, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) senior vice president and chief economist, said. "Similarly, the Fed’s move to quickly end any further growth to their balance sheet, thereby reducing accommodation at the longer end of the yield curve, also makes sense given the evolution of the economy."
If you want to take advantage of interest rates while they remain low, you could consider refinancing your private student loans to lower your monthly payments. Visit Credible to find your personalized interest rate without affecting your credit score.
YOU COULD SEE A LOWER TAX REFUND THIS YEAR, AND THIS IS WHY
Fed’s rate hike likely to hit credit cards and adjustable-rate loans first
As the Fed begins to raise rates, borrowers with credit cards and adjustable-rate loans or other short-term interest rates that change with market conditions will be affected first, one expert explained.
"Higher interest rates will likely affect borrowers’ credit card balances and any adjustable-rate loans first before they trickle into other loan types," Kent Lugrand, InTouch Credit Union president and CEO, said. "If the Federal Reserve makes its first move to raise short-term rates at its next policy meeting in mid-March, customers should expect to see it reflected on balances for new purchases in April or May.
"To help alleviate any future ‘pocketbook pain’, borrowers should start paying down any high-cost credit card debt now, or look into transferring the balance to a lower-interest option," Lugrand said.
If you have high-interest debt, you could consider taking out a personal loan to help pay it off. Visit Credible to compare multiple lenders at once and choose the one with the best interest rate for you.
Lugrand also warned that homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages could also be affected by the Fed’s decision to raise rates.
"This Fed rate increase ‘signal’ will also eventually impact adjustable-rate mortgages by potentially causing monthly payments to increase," he said. "Borrowers should consider shopping around and refinancing if they have an adjustable or variable-rate mortgage that's already stretching their budget."
If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage and are looking to refinance, you can visit Credible to compare multiple options in minutes without impacting your credit score.
5.9 MILLION HOMEOWNERS COULD BENEFIT FROM MORTGAGE REFINANCING AMID RISING INTEREST RATES: BLACK KNIGHT DATA
The upside to higher interest rates
While interest rates could be going up soon, there is a positive side to rising rates – savings accounts.
"One positive of higher rates, while it does mean increased borrowing costs, a rate hike also means potentially higher rates of interest paid on savings deposits and other accounts that pay dividends," Lugrand said.
You could potentially take advantage of rising rates with a high-yield savings account. To see how high-yield savings accounts can save you money, check out your options via the Credible marketplace to save extra cash.
Have a finance-related question, but don't know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.