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Rate survey: Average card APR rises to 15.20 percent

By  |  Published: December 14, 2016

The average APR on new card offers inched higher Wednesday after Capital One increased the APR on one of its cash back credit cards, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average APR rose to 15.20 percent after remaining at 15.18 percent for nine weeks.

Capital One spurred this week’s rate change by bumping up the APR on the QuicksilverOne Rewards MasterCard to 24.99 percent. The cash back card for consumers with average credit previously charged new cardholders 23.24 percent.

Citi also edited card offers this week. It trimmed the promotional interest-fee balance transfer and purchase period on the Citi Thank You Preferred card from 15 months to 12 months.

Interest rates on new card offers are currently near record highs. Rates are likely to increase again across most cards after the Federal Reserve raises its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate. The Fed is expected to increase the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percent at its meeting Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve last rate hike was a year ago: On Dec. 15, 2015, the Fed raised rates by 0.25 percent. Most new card offers increased rates by the same amount, causing the national average APR to rise to near record highs. On Dec. 2, 2015, for example, the national average APR stood at 14.96. After the Federal Reserve increased rates in mid-December, the average APR rose steadily, eventually hitting 15.18 percent by early February.

Late payments expected to increase
As card APRs continue to increase, credit card balances become pricier to maintain, particularly for cardholders who are already charged high APRs. According to a new analysis from the credit bureau TransUnion, cardholders who have a history of missing payments could respond to new rate increases by falling behind again on their bills.

In a Dec. 14 release, the credit bureau projected that credit card delinquencies – late payments by 30 days or more – will likely increase in 2017 as card APRs rise and more cardholders with limited incomes struggle to pay their higher balances. TransUnion also expects late payments on credit cards will become more common as a wider group of borrowers obtain new cards. Banks have become somewhat more willing in recent months to lend to borrowers with blemished credit histories. According to an August 2016 report from TransUnion, for example, 18 percent of all new credit card accounts approved in the first quarter of 2015 belonged to cardholders with subprime credit scores – up from 14.7 percent in 2015.

Since the Great Recession, credit card holders across the credit score spectrum have paid their bills on time more regularly, causing delinquency levels to remain near historic lows. But as the number of people opening credit card accounts continues to inch upward, analysts say more late payments are inevitable.

TransUnion expects delinquency on home and auto loans to swing wildly, and in opposing directions. It projects that serious auto loan delinquencies to rise 21 percent over their 2012 level, while it expects serious mortgage delinquencies to fall 61 percent below what they were in 2012. For credit cards, TransUnion predicts credit card delinquency levels will rise to 1.82 percent of all accounts by the end of 2017 – up a modest 3.7 percent from 2012.

"The consumer credit markets have been functioning extremely well the last few years, but an increase in subprime lending has begun to impact delinquency levels for some industries, specifically the auto finance and credit card markets," said TransUnion’s Nidhi Verma in a news release. “On the credit card front, we have seen the percent of subprime accounts reach their highest level since the end of 2010.”

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.20% 15.18%
15.18%
Low interest 12.00%
12.00% 11.98%
Cash back 15.38%
15.33%
15.32%
Balance transfer 14.44%
14.41%
14.38%
Business 13.16%
13.16%
13.12%
Student 13.42%
13.42%
13.42%
Airline 15.15%
15.15%
15.08%
Reward  15.27%
15.25%
15.29%
Instant approval 17.86%
17.86%
18.04%
Bad credit 22.86%
22.86%
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: Dec. 14, 2016

See related: Yes, rates will rise on closed accounts with balances, Fed: Card balances up $2.3 billion in October

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Updated: 08-18-2017

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