Card interest rates remain at 14.9 percent for third week

By's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.90% 14.90%
Low interest 11.62%
11.62% 10.37%
Cash back 15.26%
Balance transfer 14.04%
Business 12.85%
Student 13.14%
Airline 15.10%
Reward  15.04%
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: April 8, 2015

The average APR on new card offers remained at 14.9 percent Wednesday for the third consecutive week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

Most card issuers left credit card terms alone this week.

The sporting goods store Cabela's increased the APR on the Cabela's Club Visa by 0.01 percent. However, the change was too small to affect the national average. Borrowers are now offered a minimum APR of 15.17 percent and a maximum APR of 21.17 percent.

None of the issuers tracked by advertised new promotional terms. The last time a card issuer revised a promotion was in March when Citi lengthened the 0 percent APR and balance transfer offer on the Citi Diamond Preferred card from 18 months to 21 months. Most issuers tracked by have left promotional terms unchanged since the beginning of the year.

Credit card delinquencies inch higher
Slightly more credit card holders are falling behind on their payments, according to research released April 8 by the American Bankers Association. However, the percentage of cardholders who routinely pay their bills on time is still near record highs.

According to the ABA, the bank card delinquency rate, which measures late payments by 30 days or more, increased to 2.52 percent of all accounts in the final quarter of 2014 -- up from 2.51 percent of all accounts in the previous quarter.

This is the second quarter in a row where late payments on bank-issued cards have increased. However, the percentage of cardholders who have recently missed a payment is still exceptionally low by historical standards. For example, the 15-year average for bank card delinquencies is currently 3.75 percent.

Credit card late payments have been rare over the past two years and show few signs of becoming more frequent any time soon. For example, according to the association, the percentage of cardholders who miss a payment hasn't changed by more than 14 basis points since the final months of 2012.

Experts predicted late payments would pick up as banks gradually reopened their doors to cardholders who have previously missed payments. But according to the ABA's James Chessen, many consumers are still so reluctant to take on significant amounts of debt that they're much less likely to miss a payment. Even cardholders with damaged credit scores are more likely these days to stay on top of their bills. As a result, banks continue to witness an exceptionally small number of late payments, despite granting cards to a wider group of people.

"As credit access and consumer spending increase, the overwhelming majority of cardholders continue to pay off or pay down their balances month after month," said Chessen in a news release. "We expect this trend to continue as consumers remain focused on keeping debt at manageable levels."

Credit card balances fall
According to research released this week by the Federal Reserve, consumers are keeping a tight rein on their card balances after loosening their grip toward the end of 2014.

According to the Fed's consumer credit report for February 2015, card balances shrunk by 5 percent after declining by 1.4 percent the previous month. In December, card balances expanded by a revised 9 percent after falling slightly in November.

February's drop in credit card debt supports Chessen's assertion that consumers are still paying close attention to the total amount of debt they carry and are quickly paying down any additional debt they take on.

"Even as incomes rise and the economy improves, consumers continue to take a judicious approach to managing their finances," said Chessen in a news release. "Consumers have regained confidence since the last recession, but they remain careful about taking on additional debt."

See related: Fed signals step toward higher rates

Published: April 8, 2015

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