Rate survey: Average card APR holds steady at 15.19 percent


The average APR on new credit card offers remained unchanged this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the second consecutive week, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15.19 percent.

Most cards included in the database left interest rates untouched this week. The regional bank BB&T lowered the minimum available rate on the BB&T Spectrum Rewards card, but the change was too small to affect the national average.

Applicants for the BB&T card are now offered a minimum rate of 10.40 percent -- down from a previous low of 10.90 percent. BB&T also lowered the card’s maximum rate by more than 4 percentage points, reducing the card’s maximum APR from 23.99 percent to just 19.40 percent. The change didn’t affect the national average, though, because only considers a card’s lowest available interest rate.

Card issuers trim balance transfer promotions
Credit card issuers are stepping up their efforts to attract new cardholders and are sending out more offers. According to new research released this week by financial services firm Credit Suisse, card issuers mailed 346 million offers in July -- up 13 percent from the previous year.

However, balance transfer promotions showing up in many cardholders’ mailboxes aren’t as enticing as they used to be. According to Credit Suisse, just 68 percent of the card offers issuers mailed last month contained a 0 percent balance transfer offer – down from 72 percent in July 2015. Average balance transfer periods were also relatively short last month, clocking in at just 14.1 months on average.

Card issuers have been relatively stingy with interest-free balance transfer offers for some time. Since September 2014, the average balance transfer period has hovered around 14 months, which is low by historical standards. Between 2011 and mid-2014, average balance transfer periods regularly spiked to an average of 16 to 20 months as issuers aggressively used free credit to lure potential cardholders.

Issuers have been somewhat more generous with 0 percent APR offers on purchases. For example, 236 million card offers advertised a 0 percent APR on purchases – up from 225 million card offers in July 2015. But the total percentage of card offers containing a 0 percent APR on purchases has declined somewhat, despite issuers mailing more offers overall. Many of the largest card issuers, such as Discover, American Express, Citi and J.P. Morgan Chase, have also cut back on the number of interest-free teasers they mailed by a significant amount, CreditSuisse found.  

The upshot for consumers is that credit card offers are becoming more ubiquitous as issuers reach out to a broader group of potential cardholders. However, extra-long balance transfer offers and generous 0 percent purchase rates may be harder to find.'s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.19% 15.19%
Low interest 11.98%
11.98% 11.96%
Cash back 15.32%
Balance transfer 14.39%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.13%
Reward  15.30%
Instant approval 18.04%
Bad credit 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.)
Updated: August 24, 2016

See related: What is a balance transfer? 9 things you need to know

Published: August 24, 2016

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Updated: 10-24-2016

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