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Business card drop sends credit card APRs off record highs

By Kate Tomasino

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.89% 14.91%
14.72%
Low interest 10.73%
10.73% 11.98%
Balance transfer 12.73%
12.78%
12.90%
Business 12.91%
13.07%
12.91%
Student
13.77%
13.77%
13.42%
Cash back  14.16%
14.16%
12.48%
Airline  14.31%
14.31%
14.30%
Reward 14.51%
14.51%
14.36%
Instant approval 15.99%
15.99%
15.99%
Bad credit 24.96%
24.96%
24.95%
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.)
Source: CreditCards.com
Updated: July 20, 2011

Business card interest rates took a dip this week, sending overall credit card APRs down from record highs, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Rate Report.

The average annual percentage rate (APR) on new credit card offers fell to 14.89 percent this week. The rate had spent the previous two weeks at 14.91 percent, the highest level since CreditCards.com began tracking APRs in 2007. This week's average is the second highest we've recorded.

The drop was due to a change U.S. Bank made to one of its business credit cards. The U.S. Bank Visa Business Platinum card previously carried an APR range of 11.99 percent to 17.99 percent. It is now offered with a range of 9.99 percent to 17.99 percent. Since the low ends of ranges are used to calculate our national average, U.S. Bank's move pushed the national APR average downward. It also lowered the average APR in two of the nine credit card categories we track -- business and balance transfers.

"We continually evaluate the products and pricing we offer to customers and felt this was the right time to offer even better rates on our Business Platinum, Cash Rewards and Select Rewards products," said U.S. Bank spokeswoman Teri Charest. "Our goal continues to be to support small business growth with a competitive set of products and outstanding service."

This is only the fifth time this year that rates have dropped -- a significant change from 2010, which saw twice that number of week-to-week declines by this point in the year. (In fact, rates even fell for five consecutive weeks in April and May of 2010, the longest such stretch we've recorded.) By contrast, there have been nine weekly increases in the overall national average in 2011, most of which have come in the past three months.

Prior to that, however, rates were stable for several months -- thanks to issuers finding their footing in the wake of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 and, in part, to a rebounding economy. Business card rates had been stable, too, until this week's decline.

CreditCards.com tracks 13 major business credit cards. The national business card APR average is 12.91 percent -- way down from the category's record high of 16.74 percent set in early 2009. However, it has changed only three times in the past nine months.
Among business cards we currently track, the ones with the lowest APRs come from Bank of America. The Bank of America Platinum Plus for Business MasterCard and the Bank of America Platinum Visa Business Credit Card both offer an APR range of 9.24 percent to 20.24 percent.  Though the low end of that range is the lowest, the high end is one of the highest -- second only to the Capital One Visa Business Platinum with Preferred No Hassle Miles card, which offers the highest business card APR at a range of 14.99 percent to 22.99 percent.  

Interest rates aren't the only thing to consider, however, when shopping for a new business card. It's also important to note annual fees. Most business cards don't require an annual fee -- but three in our database do. Among those, the CitiBusiness AAdvantage MasterCard features the highest at $75 a year.

See related: An interactive guide to the Credit CARD Act

Published: July 20, 2011


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