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Survey: Average card APR remains at record 15.42 percent

By  |  Published: January 25, 2017

The national average APR on new card offers remained at a record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the second week, the national average APR sat at 15.42 percent – the highest national average CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates in mid-2007.

None of the cards included in the weekly report advertised new interest rates. Card issuers also left promotional offers, such as 0 percent balance transfer offers, unchanged.

Average rates on new card offers climbed after the Federal Reserve pushed up its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percent. Most major card issuers increased rates by the same amount, causing the national average APR to soar to an all-time record. Before the Fed’s latest rate increase, the highest national average APR ever recorded was 15.22 percent.

Consumers worry about higher rates
Average rates on new card offers have climbed steadily since 2015. The average APR for 2015, for example, was 14.96 percent. In 2016, it climbed to 15.18 percent.

According to a new poll from Bankrate, the uptick in APRs is causing some consumers to feel a heightened sense of anxiety about their finances – particularly since the Federal Reserve is expected to increase rates again in 2017.

Nearly half of respondents – 49 percent – said they were “concerned” about interest rates increasing in 2017.  Twenty-one percent said they were worried that the higher rates could negatively affect the stock market and economy. Eighteen percent said they were anxious about how higher APRs could affect their financial security. Meanwhile, 5 percent say they’re worried both about how interest rates will impact the economy and the stock market and how it will affect their personal finances.

Credit scores get a boost
Despite higher rates on credit cards and other variable rate loans, consumers have managed their credit relatively well in recent months. According to new research from the credit reporting agency Experian, for example, average credit scores have risen considerably over the past year, indicating that consumers’ finances are improving as they weather bigger rate increases.

The national average VantageScore, for example, rose to 673 in 2016 – up from 669 the year before.

Average credit scores are still lower than they were 10 years ago, before the Great Recession. In 2007, for example, the average VantageScore was 679, according to Experian data. But cardholders appear to be making steady progress in improving their long-term credit. Missed loan payments have remained near record lows as substantial numbers of consumers limit their monthly charges and successfully repay their debts.

Millennials have enjoyed the most progress in improving their average credit scores, according to Experian. For example, the average VantageScore for consumers between the ages of 21 and 34 jumped 6 percentage points between 2015 and 2016, growing from an average score of 628 to an average score of 634.

Members of Generation X and the baby boomer generation also enjoyed significant increases in their credit scores. The average VantageScore for consumers between the ages of 50 and 69, for example, jumped from 696 to 700. Meanwhile, the average VantageScore for consumers ages 35 to 49 jumped from 628 in 2015 to 634 in 2016.

Credit scores for the oldest generation (the Silent generation) and the youngest (Generation Z) slipped somewhat, year-over-year. But compared to 2010, both generations’ credit standings have significantly improved.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.42% 15.42%
15.18%
Low interest 12.22%
12.22% 11.98%
Cash back 15.57%
15.57%
15.32%
Balance transfer 14.67%
14.67%
14.38%
Business 13.41%
13.41%
13.12%
Student 13.67%
13.67%
13.42%
Airline 15.40%
15.40%
15.08%
Reward  15.48%
15.48%
15.29%
Instant approval 18.03%
18.03%
18.04%
Bad credit 22.98%
22.98%
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: Jan. 25, 2017

See related: Americans' credit card debt hits $1 trillion, Poll: Americans more optimistic about getting out of debt

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Updated: 08-20-2017

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