Rate survey: Average card rate remains at 15.16 percent

The national average credit card APR remained near a record high Wednesday after falling the previous week for the first time in about a month, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

None of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com raised minimum rates this week. As a result, the national average annual percentage rate remained unchanged at 15.16 percent.

Chase added a maximum APR of 23.24 percent to the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. However, the change didn't affect the national average as Chase left the minimum rate of 16.24 percent alone. CreditCards.com considers only a card's lowest available interest rate when calculating average rates.

Interest rates are currently near record highs. The last time average rates rose above 15.16 percent was in December 2011 when the national average briefly peaked at 15.22 percent.

Card debt grows as credit limits expand
Credit card issuers are continuing to offer bigger credit limits, and cardholders are responding by charging more to their cards.

According to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, cardholders added roughly $19 billion of new debt to their credit cards last quarter. As a result, the total amount of credit card debt households owe expanded to $733 billion in the final quarter of the year -- up from $700 billion in 2014.   

Meanwhile, credit card limits expanded slightly in the fourth quarter, increasing by roughly 1 percent. It was the 12th quarter in a row that aggregate credit card limits increased -- a sign that card issuers are gradually expanding consumers' access to new credit. The last time aggregate credit card credit limits fell was in 2013.   

Despite charging more debt overall, consumers are still keeping up with their payments. Late payments by 90 days or more fell to 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the New York Federal Reserve -- down from 8.2 percent in the previous quarter.

A separate report released Feb. 16 by the credit rating agencies S&P and Experian found that late payments on bank-issued credit cards rose in January for the second month in a row; but despite the two consecutive increases, missed payments are still exceptionally rare compared to previous years when missed payments were much more common.

"Bank card defaults rose from November to December and again to January. However, the series established a new low in November and remains quite low compared to its recent history," said S&P's David Blitzer in a news release.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.16% 15.16%
Low interest 11.96%
11.96% 11.62%
Cash back 15.20%
Balance transfer 14.35%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.17%
Reward  15.25%
Instant approval 18.02%
Bad credit 22.56%
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. 17, 2016

See related: Card balances up for 10th straight month, Survey: 5 in 6 Americans admit to impulse buys

Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.

Updated: 02-15-2019