Survey: Average card APR remains at 15 percent for 10th week
By Kelly Dilworth | Published: August 26, 2015
Interest rates on new credit card offers remained unchanged again this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
None of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained locked at 15 percent for the 10th consecutive week.
Rates on new card offers haven't budged since June. This is the longest stretch of time that interest rates have stayed in place in more than 19 months.
Most card issuers also left promotional terms unchanged. Bank of America, however, lengthened the 0 percent balance transfer offers from 15 months to 18 months on the BankAmericard Visa and BankAmericard for students, while eliminating the introductory APR.
Issuers relax lending standards -- to a point
Card issuers are loosening their restrictions on new applications and making it easier for consumers with lower credit scores to qualify. According to TransUnion's latest Industry Insights Report, for example, 18 percent of the accounts opened in the first quarter of 2015 belonged to consumers with VantageScores below 601.
Despite opening more accounts, issuers aren't granting nearly as much credit as they used to. The average credit line for consumers with subprime scores fell to $923 in the second quarter, which is the least amount of credit issuers have granted to subprime borrowers since mid-2012.
"Subprime consumers continue to gain access to credit, but lenders have scaled back the average credit line to this group," said TransUnion's Paul Siegfried in a news release.
Rather than risk having to write off large amounts of delinquent debt, lenders are "approaching subprime originations cautiously," said Siegfried and granting just enough credit for borrowers to have spending power without risking too much debt.
Cardholders, meanwhile, are also remaining cautious and limiting how much they borrow. According to TransUnion, the average credit card balance for all cardholders dipped, year-over-year, from $5,234 in the second quarter of 2014 to $5,142 in 2015.
Cardholders are also continuing to pay back their loans at record rates, indicating that cardholders' more responsible approach to credit usage could be here to stay -- at least for now. The national credit card delinquency rate, which measures late payments by 90 days or more, just barely inched up between 2014 and 2015.
Consumers' appetite for new credit continues to
Despite borrowing less overall, cardholders are also showing increased interest in acquiring new cards. For example, TransUnion found that new card accounts jumped by more than 11 percent, year-over-year, in the first three months of the year.
Meanwhile, the total number of consumers who own at least one card also jumped from 154.2 million in 2014 to 160.17 million.
Consumers under the age of 30 appear to be especially eager to use credit, said TransUnion. For example, the number of cardholders under the age of 30 carrying a credit card balance jumped 8.6 percent, year-over-year. However, most 20-something cardholders aren't maxing out their cards. The average balance for consumers under the age of 30 also increased this year -- but not by much. Between 2014 and 2015, the average balance for cardholders under the age of 30 rose from $2,135 to $2,154.
"The under-30 age group had the largest increase of any age group, yet average balances have remained steady year over year," said Siegfried. "We're observing consistent credit management skills from this group," he added, which bodes well for future borrowing.
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|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: Aug. 26, 2015|
See related: Discover unseats AmEx in card satisfaction rankings