Rate survey: Credit card APRs shoot to record high
Chase alters rates on several cards, sending national average higher
By Kate Tomasino | Published: December 14, 2011
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|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.)|
|Updated: Dec. 14, 2011|
Interest rates on new credit card offers surged to a record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The average annual percentage rate (APR) soared to 15.22 percent -- up nearly a quarter of a percentage point for its largest increase in 2011. The previous high average APR was 15 percent, set in mid-October.
Chase -- the nation's largest credit card issuer -- spurred the increase, eliminating APR ranges on nine cards that CreditCards.com tracks. For some consumer credit cards, Chase now offers only what had previously been the high end of the card's APR range. For example, the BP Visa and Hess Visa cards changed to a flat 19.24 percent from a range of 15.24 percent to 19.24 percent.
The University of Florida Visa card was also changed to a flat rate of 19.24 percent. Previously, that had been the high end of the card's APR range, with 13.24 percent as the low end.
With other Chase consumer cards, the new rate fell somewhere between the previous range's high and low ends.
- The Freedom card changed to 17.99 percent from a range of 11.99 percent to 22.99 percent.
- The Slate card changed to 16.99 percent from a range of 11.99 percent to 21.99 percent.'
- The Priority Club Select Visa card changed to 15.24 percent from a range of 13.24 percent to 17.24 percent.
Also, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card changed from a flat rate of 14.24 percent to a flat rate of 15.24 percent.
However, for business credit cards, the top end of the range was eliminated. For example, Ink Cash for Business changed to 13.24 percent from a range of 13.24 percent to 19.24 percent -- as did the Chase Ink Classic.
Steve O'Halloran, Chase's Public Affairs Director, confirmed the moves.
"Chase offers a number of cards with different rates and benefits, which is why we encourage customers to choose the card that is best for them," O'Halloran said.
This major shift sent five out of the nine categories CreditCards.com tracks upward -- shattering even more records. The other four categories remained unchanged. Most affected were the low interest and balance transfer categories.
The national APR average for low interest credit cards jumped more than half a percentage point, from 10.62 percent to 11.17 percent. That's its highest level since April.
The APRs for balance transfer cards and cash back cards each rose about a quarter of a percentage point. The balance transfer APR of 13.08 percent is the highest since October 2009. The cash back APR --14.86 percent -- is the highest since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in 2007.
The average APR for the business category did not change, however. Only the lowest available rate for each card is used to calculate national APR averages. Since that remained unchanged for each of the two Ink business cards, the business card category's average APR remained at 13.13 percent.
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