Rate survey: Credit card interest rates rise to 15.02 percent

By's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.02%
Low interest 10.33%
10.33% 10.46%
Balance transfer 12.66%
Business 12.98%
Cash back  14.84%
Airline  15.30%
Reward 14.99% 14.97%
Instant approval 28.00%
Bad credit 22.73%
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 9, 2014

Average rates on new credit card offers nosed higher this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) rose to 15.02 percent Wednesday after Chase revised the terms on one of its travel rewards credit cards.

Chase increased the APR on the Disney Rewards Visa card by 1 percentage point, pushing it up from a single APR of 14.24 percent to a flat rate of 15.24 percent. Chase left the card's promotional APR alone. Cardholders who vacation at a Disney theme park still have six months to make interest-free purchases.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union was also active this week. The credit union removed the 18-month 0 percent balance transfer offer on the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Standard card and replaced it with a low-rate offer of 4.99 percent for 48 months.

Delinquencies up, too
Consumers are having a harder time paying their bills on time.

According to new research from the American Bankers Association, late payments on credit card bills inched up in the final quarter of 2013, rising from 2.55 percent of all accounts to 2.60 percent.

Despite the modest increase, however, credit card holders are still paying their bills at much higher rates than they used to. According to the American Bankers Association, the current bankcard delinquency rate -- which measures late payments on bank-issued credit cards by 30 days or more -- is still well below the historical average.

The modest increase in the number of payments that consumers let slide could indicate consumers are becoming less careful about their credit cards as the economy gradually improves. Experts have previously forecast late payments should become somewhat more common over the next year as debt-shy consumers warm up again to using their cards and bank card issuers approve more applicants.

However, additional research from the American Bankers Association released earlier this month showed that it could be awhile before consumers return to their pre-recession ways. (Before the Great Recession, bank card issuers received substantially more late payments.) 

Though many consumers are using their cards more often, which should indicate they're becoming more comfortable with debt, a large percentage of consumers are still extraordinarily cautious about the amount of debt they're willing to accumulate. According to the association, for example, credit card usage rose in the third quarter of 2013, but the average credit card balance shrank. 

That indicates that consumers are still paying close attention to the amount of debt they take on and are quickly paying their balances down before they become bigger than they can afford, said the American Bankers Association's James Chessen in an April 9 press release. "The fact that consumers are paying off more of their balances even as credit card spending increases shows that people are highly conscious of their debt obligations and actively working to keep them at affordable levels," he said.

A second report from the Federal Reserve also found that credit card debt is falling, rather than picking up, indicating that consumers still aren't ready to charge the way they did before the recession. According to the Federal Reserve's latest report on consumer credit, credit card debt fell for the second consecutive month in February, despite modest increases in consumer spending during the same period.

Meanwhile, borrowing on other types of loans, such as education and auto loans, increased during the same month -- underscoring just how selective consumers are these days about the kind of debt they're willing to take on.

Published: April 9, 2014

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