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Survey: Average card APR remains at 15.51 percent for second week

By  |  Published: March 15, 2017

Kelly Dilworth
Personal Finance Writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

The national average APR on new card offers stayed put this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the second week, the national average APR remained at a record high of 15.51 percent.

Most card issuers left interest rates alone this week. Citi boosted the APR on the Citi Thank You Preferred card by half a percentage point, but the change was too small to affect the national average. Applicants are now offered an APR ranging from a minimum APR of 13.99 percent to a maximum rate of 23.99 percent.

Interest rates on new card offers are currently at their highest point since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007. Since Jan. 4, average rates have hovered between 15.36 percent and 15.51 percent. As a result, the average APR for the year has climbed to 15.45 percent.

Interest rates are expected to rise again this month if the Federal Reserve follows through on its anticipated rate hike. Fed Chair Janet Yellen hinted earlier this month that the Fed would announce another small increase to its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, after its meeting, held March 14-15.

As APRs increase in tandem, cardholders could have a harder time reining in their balances. The average cardholder carries more than $5,000 on their credit cards, according to the credit agency TransUnion.

As cardholders increase spending, TransUnion predicts that the average credit card balance per consumer will expand to $5,500 by the end of 2017.

With such high balances, a quarter point rate increase could make a significant difference to cardholders’ bottom lines – especially if they only pay the minimum amount due on their cards. According to CreditCards.com’s minimum payment calculator, for example, a cardholder with a $5,500 balance and a 15.76 percent APR would pay roughly $3,904 in interest charges – over $100 more than they’d be charged if they carried a 15.51 percent APR.

Cardholders carrying more $15,000 in debt could wind up paying several hundred dollars more in interest if their APRs increase by just a quarter of a percent.

TransUnion warned last year that expected rate hikes from the Fed, combined with looser restrictions for new applicants, could lead to a significant number of credit card holders falling behind on their payments.

Credit card delinquency rates are currently near record lows; but they’ve ticked up in recent months as consumers get more comfortable with spending and banks allow more consumers with blemished credit histories obtain a card. The credit agency Experian, for example, reported last month that the bank card default rate rose to a more than three-year high in January as a growing number of cardholders skipped payments.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.51% 15.51%
15.22%
Low interest 12.37%
12.36% 11.98%
Cash back 15.61%
15.61%
15.32%
Balance transfer 14.78%
14.77%
14.39%
Business 13.41%
13.41%
13.12%
Student 13.67%
13.67%
13.42%
Airline 15.44%
15.44%
15.13%
Reward  15.59%
15.59%
15.30%
Instant approval 18.09%
18.09%
18.04%
Bad credit 23.01%
23.01%
22.86%
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: March 15, 2017

See related: United Debt Counselors to refund some fees, How to minimize the cost of a cash advance

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Updated: 08-19-2017

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