Rate survey: Credit card interest rates hold steady
Interest rates on new credit card offers remained
flat this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
||6 months ago
|Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of 100 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category listed above. (Introductory, or teaser, rates are not included in the calculation.)
|Updated: May 30, 2012
The national average annual percentage rate (APR) on
new card offers held steady at 14.93 percent Wednesday after inching up the previous
week in average's first movement in more than a month.
This is the 13th week out of 22 that
interest rates haven't budged. However, not all card issuers were inactive this
For example, Discover narrowed the range on the
Discover Escape card by lowering the card's maximum APR from 16.99 percent to
15.99 percent. The change didn't affect the national average because
CreditCards.com considers only the lowest possible APR when calculating rates.
Meanwhile, U.S. Bank sweetened its balance transfer
offer for the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card by extending the card's
interest-free offer from six months to up to nine months. U.S.
Bank joins Chase as being one of the few business card issuers in the CreditCards.com national average database featuring a 0 percent balance transfer offer for more than six months.
Balance transfer offers are relatively unusual for business cards, and lengthy balance transfers are even rarer. By contrast, more than a third of the personal credit cards in our database feature a promotional balance transfer offer for six months or more.
still applying for new cards, despite higher APRs
national average APR has been relatively steady for most of 2011 and 2012,
which is welcome news for consumers who saw interest rates surge in 2010.
However, despite the recent stability in rates, the
national average is high by historical standards and shows no sign of dropping significantly
any time soon. For example, two years ago, the national average APR was 14.17
percent. Three years ago, it was just 12.24 percent.
To get a sense of how far interest rates have risen in recent years,
consider this. A cardholder borrows $5,000 on a credit card today and pays
$100 monthly at 14.93 percent interest will have to pay $2,870 in
interest to clear the balance. That's $840 more than would have been required if the money were borrowed at 2009's lower rates. (See Calculator: How long will it take to pay off your credit card balance?)
That said, today's higher APRs don't appear to be stopping
a growing number of consumers from applying for new cards. For example, the
number of new credit card accounts issued in February 2012 jumped by nearly 37
percent compared to the same time a year earlier, according to research from the credit reporting company Equifax.
The Federal Reserve reported similar figures earlier this month, with 17.5 percent of banks
reporting that a moderately larger number of consumers applied for new cards in the
first quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, banks are gradually easing lending
standards, making it somewhat easier for consumers to qualify for the
cards of their choice. Experts caution, however, that new cards with favorable terms are still relatively hard to get, particularly for consumers with less than perfect credit.
Still, analysts are optimistic, particularly now
that more cardholders are paying their bills on time and not overextending
themselves. Credit card balances have dropped by more than $199 billion since January
2009, according to new research from Equifax. And experts predict that balances
will continue to grow again, but at a healthier pace.
"The combination of increased available credit and
more timely payments among card borrowers has led to the recent growth in card
lending," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts in a statement. "Consumers
are starting to respond to increased credit availability both in cards and
other tradelines, a signal of both their financial confidence and improving
See related: 5 steps to lose debt, get credit fit
Published: May 30, 2012