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Rate survey: Card APRs stay at record highs for 2nd straight week

By Kate Tomasino

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.96% 14.96%
14.65%
Low interest 10.73%
10.73% 11.18%
Balance transfer 12.77%
12.77%
12.78%
Business 12.91%
12.91%
12.91%
Student
13.77%
13.77%
13.42%
Cash back  14.34%
14.34%
13.41%
Airline  14.44%
14.44%
14.33%
Reward 14.59%
14.59%
14.32%
Instant approval 15.99%
15.99%
15.99%
Bad credit 24.96%
24.96%
23.95%
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: Sept. 21, 2011

Interest rates on new credit card offers remained unchanged this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report, as their upward climb paused following several volatile weeks.

There were no annual percentage rate (APR) changes this week in the cards we track, so the average APR on new credit card offers stayed at a record high of 14.96 percent for a second straight week. The previous record of 14.94 percent was set in late August. Prior to this week's pause, rates had gone up in three of the previous four weeks, sending the national average from 14.88 percent to 14.96 percent in just a month.  

Two of the nine credit card categories we track also have average APRs at their highest levels since we began tracking rates in 2007: Bad-credit credit cards stand at 24.96 percent, while cash-back cards come in at 14.34 percent.

Still, even with all that, rates have been more stable in 2011 than any year since CreditCards.com began tracking in 2007. There's only slightly more than a quarter-percentage point difference between the highest and lowest national average APRs we've seen this year -- 14.94 percent and 14.65 percent, respectively. Every other year, we've seen at least a full percentage point swing between the year's high and low-water marks. Last year, it swung even more, ranging from a low of 12.87 percent to a high of 14.78 percent.

Those increases have a real impact. For example, a typical cardholder who borrowed $5,000 on a credit card today and consistently paid $150 per month at today's average interest rate would have to pay $6,503 to pay off the debt. That's $113 more than would have been required a year ago, when the average rate stood at 14.15 percent.

See related: Calculator: How long will it take to pay off your credit card balance?

Published: September 21, 2011


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