Rate survey: Credit card interest rates begin 2013 at 14.96 percent

Interest rates on new credit card offers began the new year at a standstill, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. The average APR on new credit card offers remained fixed at 14.96 percent for the eighth consecutive week.  

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.96%
Low interest 10.40%
10.40% 10.40%
Balance transfer 12.62%
Business 13.13%
Cash back  14.30%
Airline  14.63%
Reward 14.80%
Instant approval 15.49%
Bad credit 23.64%
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. 02, 2013

None of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com made changes to their card portfolios over the holidays. That includes changes to promotional balance transfer offers and introductory APRs, as well as standard interest rates.

Instead, issuers closed 2012 the same way they began it, by leaving credit card terms alone. 2012 was the most stable year for credit card offers since CreditCards.com began tracking them in June 2007. Average rates on new credit card offers remained unchanged for 36 weeks out of 52.

Compare that to 2011 -- the second most-stable year on record -- when average rates remained unchanged just 25 weeks out of 52.

In previous years, credit card offer terms changed more frequently. For example, in 2010, the national average changed 41 times and moved up nearly two percentage points by the end of the year. In 2009, average rates moved 43 times and in 2008, average rates changed 45 times.

By contrast, in 2012, issuers not only left advertised rates alone for much of the year, but also made few substantial changes to card offers' promotional deals, which are designed to lure new card applicants.

The good news for consumers who are looking for a new card in 2013 is that many of those introductory offers remain relatively generous.

For example, among the 100 cards that CreditCards.com tracks, 28 feature balance transfer offers for 12 months or more. Nearly half of those offers are especially drawn out, extending for 15 months and beyond.  

Consumers comparing new cards should also have little trouble finding cards that allow them to pay zero interest -- or low interest -- on purchases for a lengthy period. Among the 100 cards in the CreditCards.com database, for example, 28 cards advertise a promotional rate for nine months or longer. Eleven of those cards give consumers an even lengthier period of time -- 14 months or more -- to use their new card interest-free or at an exceptionally low rate. 

Although promotional offers have changed little in the past year, they remain ubiquitous. Among the cards that CreditCards.com tracks, fewer than half feature no promotional rate. Ten of those cards are for consumers with limited or bad credit. Seven are store cards. Sixteen are travel cards, including hotel and gas cards.

The vast majority of general purpose credit cards feature at least some kind of promotional interest rate, either on balance transfers, purchases or both.  

See related: 2013: What's in the (credit) cards for you?

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Updated: 02-23-2019