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Rate survey: Average card APR remains unchanged at 17.67 percent

Summary

The average APR on new credit card offers held steady this week, remaining at a record high.

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The average APR on new credit card offers held steady this week, remaining at a record high.

None of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average APR stayed put at 17.67 percent.

Most cards also left their 0 percent promotions alone this week.

Wells Fargo trimmed the promotional period on the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card. New cardholders now have just nine months to carry a balance interest-free. Previously, cardholders were given up to 12 months to avoid paying interest on new balance transfers and purchases.

Citi also floated an alternative promotional offer on the Citi Simplicity Card. However, not all computer users are being shown the same offer.

Some cardholders are being offered a 21-month interest free balance transfer offer. Those offers also include a 12-month interest free offer on new purchases. Meanwhile, other visitors to Citi’s website are being shown an 18-month promotional offer for both balance transfers and new purchases.

Credit card issuers frequently float alternative offers to different computer users. Issuers will also sometimes show one offer on a third-party website, such as CreditCards.com, and another offer on the issuer’s main website.

See related:  Historic credit card interest rates chart

Interest rates remain at record highs

Every week, CreditCards.com visits issuer websites and evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional offers on 100 U.S. credit cards.

Interest rates on the card offers that are currently being shown online are at their highest point in more than a decade, according to CreditCards.com’s evaluation of new cards.

As a result, consumers who haven’t searched for a new card for a while could be surprised by how sharply interest rates have climbed.

When CreditCards.com first began tracking rates in mid-2007, for example, the national average card rate hovered around 13 percent. Since then, average rates have climbed by more than 4 and a half percentage points and show no signs of dropping significantly any time soon.

Card rates have climbed at an especially fast clip over the past three years as the Federal Reserve gradually pushes up its benchmark interest rate. When the Fed increases rates, most variable rate loan products, including credit cards, follow suit.

Since December 2015, the national average APR has climbed by more than 2 and a half percentage points.

See related:  Guide to rising credit card interest rates

Issuers bumping up rates independent of Fed actions

Credit card issuers have also been more active in recent months and have independently hiked rates more often than they did in previous years when credit card changes were less frequent. That has also helped push up the national average APR.

Between 2011 and 2015, for example, changes to credit card terms, including APRs, were rare – especially on a card’s lowest available interest rate. As a result, the weekly credit card average tended to remain relatively steady from year to year.

The weekly average for new credit card offers at the beginning of 2015, for example, was just 0.18 percentage points higher than it was four years prior in January 2011.

Over the past several months, by contrast, a number of credit card issuers have chosen to independently hike rates on select cards, causing the average card APR to climb.

For example, Wells Fargo recently increased the APR on the Propel American Express card by 1 and a half percentage points. It also increased the APR on the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card by a full point.

Capital One increased rates by 1 or more percentage points on several rewards cards. Meanwhile, Bank of America increased APRs by three quarters of a percentage point on its line of cash back credit cards.

Meanwhile, rate cuts continue to be rare. As a result, the national average APR hasn’t fallen since 2018.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.67%17.67%16.92%
Low interest14.67%14.67%13.99%
Cash back17.58%17.58%17.09%
Balance transfer16.90%16.90%16.21%
Business15.24%15.24%14.59%
Student17.79%17.79%16.98%
Airline17.50%17.50%16.93%
Rewards17.55%17.55%16.92%
Instant approval20.15%20.15%19.45%
Bad credit25.33%25.33%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: March 27, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 21st, 2019
Business
15.55%
Airline
17.49%
Cash Back
17.63%
Reward
17.49%
Student
17.69%

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