Interest rates expected to jump multiple times this year

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    If you carry a balance on your credit card - watch out.

    Money experts predict the Federal Reserve will raise what's called the 'Fed Funds' rate at least 3 times in 2018, in quarter percent increments.

    The Fed Funds rate is what the the Fed charges banks and credit unions to borrow money. And if lenders have to pay more, you know they'll be passing it on to all of us.

    "If you're carrying a balance, even occasionally, your motivation has to be minimizing the finance charges that you pay," said Greg McBride, Senior Analyst at

    McBride says it only takes 1 or 2 payments cycles for a Federal Reserve rate hike to be reflected on your credit card.

    "If the Federal Reserve is gonna raise interest rates 3 times this year, in quarter point increments, then you can bet your credit card rate is gonna be 3 quarters of a percent higher than it is now," McBride added.

    If you have a $5,000 balance and only make minimum payment, with a current rate of 16 percent, those three rate hikes kick your rate to 16.75 percent and add $327 in interest charges.

    McBride points out the accumulative rate hikes also add 6 months to the time you'll take to wipe out the balance.

    Another potentially big hit- adjustable rate mortgages. If you still have an ARM, multiple rate hikes this year could take a big chunk out of your wallet.

    "A lot of those adjustable rate mortgages now are resetting their rates to around 4.5 percent, " McBride explained. "Well, you can lock in a fixed rate at 4% or a little below right now, so look at doing that."

    If you took out a Home Equity Loan, commonly referred to as HELOC, remember, those interest rates are also tied to the interest rates that lenders pay. So consider switching to a line of credit or equity loan that has a fixed rate- or, pay down that balance.

    "You're gonna want to put a lot more towards paying down that home equity loan now," said McBride. "Because not only are the rates going up, but you can't deduct any of that interest anymore."

    The good news is many banks and credit unions will pay higher interest on savings accounts. By the end of the year, Bankrate expects the best savings accounts to yield about 2.3 percent interest for the top 5-year CD could surpass 3 percent.

    So in addition to paying down credit debt and minimizing credit interest charges, this is a good time to compare savings interest offered by established online banks, community banks, and credit unions.

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