Rate survey: Average card APR holds still at 16.41 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

The national average credit card APR clocked in 16.41 percent Wednesday for the seventh consecutive week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

CreditCards.com reviewed the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 of the most popular U.S. credit cards.

Issuers have largely left credit card offers alone in recent weeks. However, rates are expected to bump up again as soon as the Federal Reserve raises its benchmark interest rate by another quarter of a percent. When the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, most variable rate loans, including credit cards, eventually increase rates by the same amount.

The average card APR is already at a record high. Another quarter-point increase in the federal funds rate could put the average card APR within rounding distance of 17 percent for the first time in more than a decade. When CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007, the average card APR remained near 13 percent before falling by more than a full percentage point the following year.

Today, minimum card APRs below 12 percent are rare, even on cards advertised as low interest rate credit cards. Among the low interest cards included in the weekly rate report, the average APR is 13.14 percent. Meanwhile, the average minimum APR for rewards cards is 16.51 percent.

Affirm adds an in-store credit card option

Consumers who don’t mind sharing personal details about themselves that aren’t traditionally included in a credit report will soon have more borrowing options to choose from.

The alternative lender Affirm – which uses nontraditional data to size up potential borrowers – announced this week it is partnering with Apple Pay on a virtual card consumers can use in brick-and-mortar stores. However, unlike traditional credit cards, Affirm’s new card option won’t offer a revolving line of credit. Instead, cardholders will be approved just before checkout for a three- to 24-month installment loan that’s good for a single purchase. 

Affirm will also offer an in-store credit option at participating retailers for consumers who don’t have Apple Pay.

Previously, Affirm’s digital credit option was only available on websites that accepted it. Many of the retailers partnering with Affirm are furniture stores and other providers of big-ticket purchases that consumers often need to finance.

By adding a digital card to its lineup, Affirm will be joining just a small handful of card issuers that use nontraditional data to score borrowers who are new to credit or are rebuilding their traditional scores.

Over the past year, a growing number of lenders have started to offer in-store financing options for consumers who are believed to be better credit risks than their traditional credit scores indicate.

In the fall of 2017, for example, the nontraditional lender Petal introduced a credit card that considers alternative sources of information, such as bank statements and spending histories, when evaluating potential borrowers.

Not long after, the alternative lender Deserve said that it too would use non-credit-related banking information and other personal details to score borrowers who are interested in its new student credit card.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.41% 16.41%
Low interest 13.14%
13.14% 12.89%
Cash back 16.67%
Balance transfer 15.63%
Business 13.93%
Student 15.92%
Airline 16.41%
Reward  16.51%
Instant approval 18.82%
Bad credit 23.62%
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 21, 2018

See related: Historic credit card rates chart, Infographic: Cards, debt, delinquencies all on the rise, Best credit cards for grocery shopping

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Updated: 02-18-2019