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Survey: Average card APR holds tight at 15.18 percent for ninth week

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The average APR on new credit card offers remained locked in place this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the ninth consecutive week, the national average APR held firm at 15.18 percent.

None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. Promotional terms, including interest-free balance transfer offers, also remained unchanged.

The national average APR has remained relatively stable all year, locked into a narrow range. It hasn’t fallen below 15.10 percent once since Jan. 1, nor has it risen above 15.19 percent.

After the Federal Reserve increased its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percent in December 2015, credit card interest rates swiftly increased as issuers adjusted their offers. The national average APR stabilized in February 2016 and hasn’t fallen below 15.16 percent since. As a result, the average APR for the year is currently 15.17 percent – a record high.

Card issuers expand credit limits for some
Credit cards with five figure credit limits are becoming easier to get, particularly for cardholders with near perfect credit scores. But if your credit score falls below 620 – a credit score that’s typically considered subprime – you may have a hard time accessing more than a few thousand dollars in credit.

According to research from the New York Federal Reserve, card issuers are issuing more cards to consumers with blemished credit; but they’re keeping a tight rein on credit limits and are reserving most of their available credit for consumers with excellent scores.

“Although new cards are disproportionately issued to lower credit score borrowers, the overall extension of new credit, measured by increases in aggregate credit limits, continues to go overwhelmingly to those with credit scores above 720,” wrote New York Fed researchers Graham Campbell, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally and Wilbert van der Klaauw in an Aug. 9 blog post.

Consumers with high scores are not only having an easier time qualifying for new credit; they also being showered with substantially bigger credit limits on their cards. Cardholders with good credit scores – above 720 and below 780 – enjoyed a median credit limit of $5,500 in 2015. That’s up from $3,600 in 2009. Those with credit scores at the very top, above 780, were granted a median credit limit of $8,000 in 2015 – up from a median credit limit of $4,200 six years earlier. And 84 percent of cardholders with a credit score of at least 780 have $10,000 or more in available credit on a single card.

At the other end of the credit spectrum, the median credit limit in 2015 for cardholders with lower scores was just $1,000 – up from $500 in 2009. Nearly half of cardholders with subprime scores are limited to less than $2,000 in available credit, wrote the Fed researchers. A growing number of credit card holders with the highest scores are also being offered cards with five-figure credit limits, they said.

“Borrowers with high credit scores are seeing the biggest expansions to their borrowing limits,” the Fed researchers wrote. But “lower credit score borrowers, once squeezed out of the market and paying down debt, are beginning to recover their ability to access credit with newly opened cards.”

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.18% 15.18%
15.16%
Low interest 11.98%
11.98% 11.96%
Cash back 15.32%
15.32%
15.20%
Balance transfer 14.38%
14.38%
14.35%
Business 13.12%
13.12%
13.12%
Student 13.42%
13.42%
13.42%
Airline 15.08%
15.08%
15.17%
Reward  15.29%
15.29%
15.25%
Instant approval 18.04%
18.04%
18.02%
Bad credit 22.56%
22.56%
22.56%
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: Aug. 10, 2016

See related: Rewards bubble hasn’t popped ... yet, Revolving debt surged in June, Fed consumer credit report says

Published: August 10, 2016


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Updated: 12-06-2016


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