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Rate survey: Average card APR stays put at 17.68 percent

Summary

The average APR on new credit card offers held firm Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

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The average APR on new credit card offers held firm Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. For the second week in a row, the national average APR registered at 17.68 percent.

None of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates. Issuers also left promotional terms, such as 0 percent balance transfer offers, unchanged.

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

This week marks one of the first weeks in some time that none of the cards monitored by CreditCards.com advertised new promotional terms or interest rates.

Until this week, issuers have been unusually active lately as they tweak 0 percent promotional offers and adjust APRs. As a result, the national average APR has climbed steadily in recent months – increasing 10 times in less than four months.

Since Dec. 26, for example, the average card APR has climbed from 17.21 percent to an all-time record high of 17.68 percent.

See related:  Historic credit card interest rates chart

Rewards card APRs have surged in recent years

Some of this year’s interest rate increases have been due to the Federal Reserve’s December 2018 rate hikes. When the Fed increases interest rates, most variable rate loans, including credit cards, eventually follow suit.

However, a number of card issuers have also independently hiked interest rates this year – often after substantially reworking their credit card rewards programs.

As a result, APRs on rewards cards, in particular, are especially high these days – particularly compared to the APRs that comparison shoppers saw a few years ago.

On April 17, 2016, for example, the average rewards card charged a minimum APR of 15.30 percent. Today, cardholders shopping for a new rewards card are more likely to see a minimum APR closer to 17.56 percent, which is the average rewards card APR.

APR ranges on rewards cards have also gotten wider, with many charging maximum APRs well above 26 percent. As a result, the average maximum rewards card APR is currently 25.30 percent – nearly 8 percentage points higher than the average minimum.

See related:  Guide to rising credit card interest rates

Low interest rate cards not so ‘low’ these days

Consumers who are willing to forgo rewards in exchange for a lower interest rate may also have trouble finding a lower rate card these days. The average APR for all low interest rate credit cards, including those that offer rewards, has climbed to 14.69 percent. Meanwhile, most plain vanilla cards from major issuers also charge relatively high rates.

For example, the Chase Slate card charges a minimum variable APR of 17.24 percent, while the BankAmericard credit card advertises a minimum variable APR of 15.24 percent. The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card – which used to be one of the lowest rate options on the market – charges a minimum variable APR of 14.74 percent.

The PNC Core Visa credit card is one of the few widely available cards still standing that offers a minimum APR below 13 percent. It charges a minimum variable rate of 12.24 percent.

Lengthy 0 percent APR deals are still out there

Consumers looking to save money on interest may be better off looking for a card that offers a 0 percent APR on balance transfers or new purchases.

Few cards these days offer more than a year and a half to carry a balance interest-free.

However, there are some cards on the market that give cardholders as long as 18 months or more to carry a balance without incurring any interest charges.

For example, U.S. Bank recently extended the interest-free promotional period on the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card to 20 billing cycles (then 14.74 – 25.74 percent variable).

Meanwhile, Citi continues to offer a 21-month interest-free balance transfer offer to select Citi Simplicity Card applicants (then 16.24 – 26.24 percent variable). Others who access the card online are shown an 18-month 0 percent promotion.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.68%17.68%17.07%
Low interest14.69%14.69%14.17%
Cash back17.60%17.60%17.14%
Balance transfer16.89%16.89%16.34%
Business15.32%15.32%14.74%
Student17.79%17.79%17.20%
Airline17.50%17.50%17.05%
Rewards17.56%17.56%17.06%
Instant approval20.15%20.15%19.74%
Bad credit25.33%25.33%24.30%
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: April 17, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: May 19th, 2019
Business
15.61%
Airline
17.50%
Cash Back
17.60%
Reward
17.62%
Student
17.79%

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