Rate survey: Average card APR remains at 15.22 percent

Average rates on new credit card offers remained at record highs this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the second week in a row, the national average annual percentage rate remained at 15.22 percent – a nearly five-year high. The last time the average card rate rose to this level was in December 2011 when the national average briefly peaked at 15.22 percent.

Most issuers left interest rates alone this week. The sporting goods store Cabela’s revised the APR on the Cabela’s Club Visa to reflect a change in the one-month Libor rate. However, the change was too small to affect the national average. Cabela’s cardholders are now offered a range of APRs starting at 15.51 percent and maxing out at 21.51 percent.

None of the cards included in the database altered promotional terms this week.

Most cardholders still dissatisfied with chip card payments
Nearly a year after the United States began formally transitioning over to chip-enabled payments, many consumers are still deeply frustrated by the new technology that has slowed down checkout lines at EMV-compliant stores. 

The payment company Square surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers and found that a solid majority are unhappy with how long it takes to process the square metallic chips. More than 87 percent of credit card holders and 91 percent of debit card holders said they were dismayed by the fact that it takes significantly longer to process a chip card payment than a card with a magnetic stripe.

Cardholders surveyed also said they were concerned about slower lines, which often occur when a customer is confused by chip card payments or when an EMV reader temporarily malfunctions.

“Consumers are most frustrated with slow lines at checkout,” wrote Square in a white paper about its findings. “Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said this was a top pain point when shopping in stores. In an era of instant gratification from online shopping and on-demand apps, this annoyance is not surprising.”

Chip card payments really are slower
Consumers aren’t mistaken when they complain that chip cards are taking up more of their time. According to the payment company Cayan, chip card payments take an average of around 12 to 16 seconds to process. Magnetic stripe payments, by contrast, typically take just a few seconds.

As a result of the longer waiting times, Cayan estimates that cardholders spend more than five hours each year waiting for their chip payments to process.

“For both retailers and customers, time is money. And EMV is eating away at the bottom-line in a big, big way,” said Cayan in a Sept. 6 news release. “If you use your credit card four times a day, EMV transactions take an extra five and a half hours from you every year.”

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.22% 15.22%
Low interest 11.98%
11.98% 11.96%
Cash back 15.32%
Balance transfer 14.39%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.13%
Reward  15.30%
Instant approval 18.04%
Bad credit 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: Sept. 7, 2016

See related: 8 FAQs about EMV credit cards, 7 merchant tips to understanding EMV fraud liability shift

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Updated: 02-21-2019