Rate survey: Credit card APRs inch up, near record high

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.99% 14.98%
Low interest 10.73%
10.73% 10.73%
Balance transfer 12.77%
Business 13.13%
Airline  14.44%
Cash back  14.70%
Reward 14.70%
Instant approval 15.99%
Bad credit 24.96%
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: Nov. 9, 2011

Interest rates on new credit card offers inched up this week for the first time in a month, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. 

The average annual percentage rate (APR) reached 14.99 percent, just one-tenth of a percentage point shy of the record high of 15 percent, which was set in October.  

This week's move was spurred by USAA, which increased the APR offered for its USAA World MasterCard. The interest rate was 8.90 percent to 25.90 percent; it is now 9.90 percent to 25.90 percent. 

USAA spokeswoman Nicole Alley confirmed the change. The USAA World MasterCard had carried the second-lowest APR for any of the 100 cards CreditCards.com tracks, and even after the increase, it's still among the lowest. (Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum MasterCard is the lowest with an APR range of 7.99 percent to 18 percent.) Oddly enough, however, the high end of its APR range -- 25.90 percent -- is the second highest APR of any of the cards we track. (First Premier Bank's MasterCard is the highest at 49.9 percent.)

Along with sending the national APR average higher, USAA's move also increased the average APR in two of the nine card categories we track. The cash-back category jumped from 14.65 percent to 14.70 percent, matching the highest mark since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in 2007. Also, the reward category rose from 14.69 percent to 14.70 percent. That's just one-tenth of a percentage point below the 2011 high for that category. 

USAA wasn't the only lender tweaking rates. Another change in Libor -- the British equivalent of the U.S. federal funds rate -- prompted an APR increase for the Cabela's Club Visa, Cabela's Chief Financial Officer Kevin Werts said. The APR offered was 9.99 percent to 18.23 percent. It is now 9.99 percent to 18.24 percent. However, since only the low end of an APR range is factored into our calculations, the move did not affect the national APR average.

When Libor moves, the Cabela's card's APR -- and the APRs of all other variable rate credit cards tied to Libor -- move by the same amount in the same direction. Most U.S. variable rate credit cards are tied to the U.S. prime rate, which moves based on changes to the Federal Reserve's federal funds rate.

Don't expect the federal funds rate to change anytime soon, however. The Fed announced on Nov. 2 that the rate will stay put at 0 percent to 0.25 percent and reaffirmed its previous assertion that the rate would likely not change until at least mid-2013, as the U.S. economy struggles to right itself after the recession.

See related: An indepth guide to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, Calculator: How long will it take to pay off your credit card balance?


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Updated: 03-22-2019