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Rate Report

Rate survey: Average card APR hits record high of 17.55 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report

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The average credit card interest rate floated higher Wednesday after several lenders tweaked rates. The national average APR rose to 17.55 percent, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

Average interest rates are currently at their highest point since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007.  

Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 U.S. credit cards.

This week, several lenders pushed rates higher, causing the national average APR to increase. USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, First National Bank, Credit One and Synchrony Bank all increased rates by a quarter of a percent on cards monitored by CreditCards.com.

This week’s rate increases were in response to the Federal Reserve’s December 2018 rate hike. When the Fed increases interest rates, most card issuers eventually hike rates by the same amount.

Nearly all of the cards included in the weekly rate report have now matched the Fed’s latest increase. 

See related:Historic credit card interest rates chart

Average rates have climbed by more than 2 and a half percentage points since 2015

Rates have climbed sharply in recent years as card issuers match the Federal Reserve’s rate changes and update their offers with new benefits.

In just the past year, for example, interest rates have climbed by more than a full percentage point. On Feb. 6, 2018, the national average APR stood at 16.39 percent – which, at the time, was a record high. 

Three years ago, interest rates were even lower: The national average credit card APR – which measures a card’s lowest available interest rate – clocked in at 15.18 percent. In February 2015, it hovered at 14.89 percent. 

Maximum interest rates have also climbed steadily as issuers continue to expand the range of possible APRs a cardholder might be charged. According to CreditCards.com data, for example, the average maximum APR is currently 24.89 percent – more than 7 percentage points higher than the average minimum APR. 

Meanwhile, the average median card APR – which is closer to what many cardholders are likely paying – has climbed to 21.22 percent. 

Borrowers could get a reprieve this year

Rate increases could slow over the next year, though, if the Fed decides to pause its rate hikes. 

The rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee signaled on Jan. 30 it might take a break from hiking interest rates after increasing rates several times in 2018. After the FOMC announced it would leave its federal funds rate unchanged for now, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference, “the case for raising rates has weakened somewhat.” Previously, the Fed signaled it would likely raise rates at least two more times in 2019.

See related:Guide to rising credit card interest rates

If the Fed decides to pause hiking rates, some borrowers could save hundreds of dollars in interest payments that they would have otherwise had to make. When the Fed increases rates, lenders also increase rates on old accounts. 

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

 Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.55%17.52%16.99%
Low interest14.57%14.53%13.87%
Cash back17.66%17.62%17.26%
Balance transfer16.72%16.70%16.19%
Business15.09%15.09%14.59%
Student17.79%17.79%16.48%
Airline17.39%17.39%16.91%
Rewards17.51%17.49%17.07%
Instant approval20.04%19.99%19.41%
Bad credit24.99%24.96%24.18%
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: Feb. 6, 2019

What’s up next?

In Rate Report

Rate survey: Average card APR advances to a record high of 17.52 percent

January 30, 2019: The average credit card interest rate inched higher this week, climbing to another all-time record high.

Published: January 30, 2019

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: May 23rd, 2019
Business
15.61%
Airline
17.50%
Cash Back
17.60%
Reward
17.62%
Student
17.79%

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