Credit card interest rates hold at 14.87% for third week

By's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.87% 14.87%
Low interest 11.53%
11.53% 10.37%
Cash back 15.28%
Balance transfer 14.01%
Business 12.85%
Student 13.14%
Airline 15.15%
Reward  15.00%
Instant approval 17.93%
Bad credit 22.48%
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: March 11, 2015

The national average APR for new card offers remained unchanged Wednesday, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

Average rates on new card offers stayed at 14.87 percent for the third consecutive week.

Most issuers left credit card terms unchanged this week. Chase nudged the APR on its Disney Rewards Visa card from 15.24 percent to 15.99 percent, but the change was too small to affect the national average.

The Disney card's higher APR did cause a slight increase in average rates for some card subcategories. For example, the average APR for cash-back credit cards rose to its highest level since began tracking rates in mid-2007. The average APR for cash-back cards is now 15.28 percent -- up from 14.84 percent in March 2014. Average APRs for rewards and balance transfer cards also increased slightly this week. 

Cardholders trim borrowing
Credit card holders are paring back their spending, according to research from the Federal Reserve. Revolving debt, which is mostly made up of credit card debt, shrunk by a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in January after expanding by more than 8 percent in December. Consumer spending overall also fell in January as consumers cut back on retail purchases and spent less to fill up their cars.  

January's decline in credit card debt could just be a temporary blip rather than a long-term shift. According to research released in February by the advisory firm First Annapolis Consulting, credit card holders charged considerably more in 2014 than they did in 2013. That could indicate cardholders are much more comfortable with credit than they used to be and are on track to pick up their spending -- once the weather warms up.

This year's harsh winter weather has made it tough for people to get out and shop. According to research from First Data Corp., retail spending dropped sharply in New England during the region's multiple winter storms. But cardholders could be making up for at least some of that spending by shopping online instead.

Multiple research studies show that online shopping has become much more popular in recent years as consumers shift more of their purchases to the Web. According to the analytics firm comScore, e-commerce spending has enjoyed double-digit quarterly growth every year since 2011. Analysts predict that online spending will continue to pick up as consumers rely more heavily on their Web-enabled devices.

That's good news for credit card issuers since consumers overwhelmingly prefer to pay with their cards when shopping online. According to the payment company, TSYS, nearly half of consumers would rather pay for an online purchase with a credit card rather than another form of payment, such as PayPal or a debit card. Thirty percent say they're more likely to pull out a debit card to make an online purchase. Just 12 percent prefer to pay with PayPal. 

See related: Study makes case against credit card arbitration, Poll: Public lukewarm about paying by cellphone

Published: March 11, 2015

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