Credit card interest rates stay at 14.89 percent for 7th straight week
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||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: Feb. 18, 2015|
Average rates on new credit card offers stayed put again this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
None of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com altered interest rates. As a result, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 14.89 percent for the seventh consecutive week.
Category APRs did change this week, however, due to an update to the CreditCards.com database.
Occasionally, CreditCards.com revises the database so that the card categories more accurately reflect the current market. For example, cards with a lower interest rate are now added to the "low interest" category if their APR is below the Federal Reserve's average APR for cards that carry a balance, which is currently 13.68 percent.
This week, CreditCards.com updated the categories for several cards, causing the average APRs for those categories to change.
Credit usage picks up
Credit card lenders are issuing significantly more credit these days, according to research released Feb. 17 by the New York Federal Reserve. For example, aggregate credit limits -- the total amount of credit issued to new and current cardholders -- increased 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the New York Fed's Household Debt and Credit Report.
But despite charging more overall to their cards, many cardholders are continuing to use just a small fraction of their credit limits, indicating to analysts consumers remain cautious about their spending.
According to research from the credit rating agency Equifax, credit card balances expanded in December to their highest levels in nearly five years. The credit bureau found that total credit card debt shot up to $642 billion in the final month of 2014 -- up from $607 billion the previous year. The last time credit card balances were that high was in April 2010.
However, credit utilization -- which measures how much available credit consumers are actually using -- hardly budged in comparison, inching up by less than 1 percent.
According to Equifax, the modest utilization rate indicates that many cardholders are still careful about how much debt they carry over on their cards. Since the recession, cardholders have become much more diligent about paying down credit card balances relatively quickly. Those who repay their balances in full has also increased, according to the American Bankers Association.
In addition, cardholders have become more responsible about paying their bills on time.
For example, the credit card delinquency rate -- measuring late payments by 90 days or more -- fell to 7.3 percent in the final quarter of 2014, according to the New York Federal Reserve, indicating to analysts that cardholders are working harder to protect their credit scores.
According to Equifax, December's considerable increase in credit card debt indicates that many cardholders are feeling relatively bullish about the economy, despite their cautious use of credit. "A rise in credit card debt indicates consumers are beginning to feel more confident about the economy and their personal finances," said Equifax's Trey Loughran in a Feb. 18 news release. "During the recession, many consumers felt uncertain about their financial futures. Consumers responsibly accessing credit is a positive sign for a healthy U.S. economy."See related: Households staggering under student loans