Rate survey: Average card rates remain at 15.16 percent for 6th week

The average credit card interest rate remained locked in place this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the sixth consecutive week, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15.16 percent. Most card issuers left interest rates alone this week.

Regions Bank reinstated its quarter point increase on the Regions Visa Platinum card after briefly canceling the card’s rate increase in early March. Cardholders are now offered a range of APRs starting at 13.24 percent and topping out at 20.24 percent.

Among the 100 cards included in the CreditCards.com database, 94 cards have increased rates by 0.25 percent since the Federal Reserve increased the federal benchmark interest rate by the same amount in December.

Retail sales slump
The Census Bureau announced March 15 that retail sales slipped by 0.1 percent in February after tumbling by a revised 0.4 percent in January. Previously, analysts estimated that retail sales rose by 0.2 percent in January.

The slump in sales, paired with other economic signals, is expected to weigh heavily on the minds of Federal Open Market Committee members as they consider another rate increase and decide whether the economy is ready for another widespread rate hike.  

According to the Census Bureau, lower gas prices helped drive down consumers spending last month. But instead of using those savings to help fund other purchases, many consumers chose to pocket the money instead.

Department stores, electronics and appliance stores and furniture stores all saw weaker spending last month as consumers cut back on big-ticket purchases.

Consumers also spent less on cars in February, indicating that their appetite for pricey durable goods may be temporarily on the wane.  

A second report released March 15 by Gallup also found that consumers’ confidence in the economy has slipped in recent months. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index found that consumers are considerably more pessimistic about the direction of the U.S. economy than they were last year.

Consumers are also more concerned about their personal finances and job prospects, according to a separate report released in February by The Conference Board, and are anxious about businesses’ ability to hire and expand.

Late payments tick up
Consumers’ sour attitude may have dampened their appetite for increased spending. However, research from the consumer bureau Experian shows that most consumers are remaining on top of their bills.

According to a joint report released March 15 by S&P and Experian, missed payments on bank-issued credit cards rose slightly in February compared to the previous month. But despite the recent uptick, bank card defaults were still rarer in February than they were the previous year.

Overall, late payments on credit cards have declined sharply in recent years as banks remain cautious about who they lend to and consumers place a higher premium on maintaining stronger credit scores.

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 15.21%
Balance transfer 14.36%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.17%
Reward  15.26%
Instant approval 18.04%
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: March 16, 2016

See related: What interest rate increases will cost consumers

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Updated: 03-24-2019