Credit card interest rates hit another record high
Rate hikes from U.S. Bank, Discover put national average APR to peak levels
By Jeremy M. Simon | Published: November 10, 2010
If it seems like interest rates for new credit cards are higher than they've been in a long while, you're not imagining things.
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of about 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.)|
This week, the national average interest rate on new credit cards reached 14.78 percent -- a new record high -- according to CreditCards.com's database of card offer information.
High annual percentage rates (APRs) are nothing new to consumers. The latest Federal Reserve survey of bank executives showed that more card issuers raised APRs during the third quarter than lowered them.
Still, those rate hikes have picked up speed recently. For the second straight week, CreditCards.com's national average APR for new card offers reached its highest level since tracking began in 2007. APRs have now increased for four straight weeks and six out of the last seven weeks.
With the Federal Reserve continuing to hold its key lending rate unchanged, higher APRs are solely the work of banks. This week, U.S. Bank raised the rate on its Flex Perks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card and Discover hiked the rate on its More card. (Neither bank responded to a request for comment on the reason for those changes.)
There was some good news for cardholders, though. Chase lowered the bottom end of the APR range on its Freedom card a point to 11.99 percent. The range's top end remains 22.99 percent.
The Federal Reserve's latest survey of bank senior loan officers also included some good news for cardholders. The survey showed that more than 12 percent of lenders reported easing their credit card approval standards in the third quarter of 2010. That means borrowers may have an easier time getting a new credit card than they have in years.
But the survey's findings were less favorable for cardholders who revolve a balance from month to month. Over that same July to September time period, 7.9 of banks said they raised APRs for new or existing cardholders, compared with 5.3 percent of banks that reported lowering rates.
Those higher rates can have a real impact on cardholders' wallets, raising the cost and increasing the time it takes to pay off card balances. "If the person has significant debt, it can make a real difference in their budget," says Sandy Shore, a counseling supervisor with nonprofit credit counseling agency Novadebt in Freehold, N.J.
See related: Banks loosen credit card lending standards, Fed report says, Federal Reserve's policy changes won't impact cardholders, Credit card reform arrives in the form of the Credit CARD Act, Calculator: How long will it take to pay off your credit card balance?, Credit card rates: interactive graphic on APR changes
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