Rate survey: Average card APR jumps to 15.19 percent

The average interest rate on new credit card offers rose to a near record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) climbed to 15.19 percent Wednesday – its highest point in more than four years – after remaining stuck at 15.16 percent for 10 weeks. The last time average rates were this high was in December 2011 when rates briefly climbed to 15.22 percent.

First National Bank, based in Omaha, Nebraska, spurred this week’s rate change by increasing the minimum APR on the First National Bank American Express card from 16.24 percent to 19.24 percent. The regional bank also eliminated the card’s maximum APR of 23.24 percent.

Wholesale retailer Sam’s Club also helped boost the national average by increasing the minimum APR on the Sam’s Club MasterCard from 14.9 percent to 15.15 percent.

Visa promises to speed up chip card transactions
Dipping your new EMV chip card into a merchant’s card reader could soon become nearly as quick as swiping your old-school magnetic stripe.

The credit card network Visa unveiled new technology Tuesday that slashes the amount of time cardholders have to wait to get their cards back to roughly two seconds. According to the merchant services provider Harbortouch, chip cardholders currently have to wait about seven to 10 seconds for a chip card transaction to be processed.

Visa announced it will release a free software update to merchant processors that cuts the amount of time a cardholder has to leave a card in a terminal while a cashier rings up a purchase.  

The announcement offered fresh hope for cardholders frustrated by long wait times at chip-enabled card terminals, but it’s not yet clear how many retailers will implement it. Visa is offering the software update for free to payment processors and banks rather than directly to merchants.

According to Visa, only about 20 percent of retail locations in the U.S. have chip-enabled card readers installed and running at their stores, despite last year’s shift in liability. As of October 2015, any retailer that doesn’t accept chip card payments must accept liability for fraudulent purchases on EMV-enabled cards.

Despite the lag in retail adoption, EMV cards have helped cut down on fraud, says Visa. In an interview with USA Today, Visa Vice President Stephanie Erickson said that fraudulent purchases using counterfeit cards have declined at merchants that accept chip-enabled payments, but they’ve increased at stores that don’t yet accept EMV technology.  “We’re seeing EMV is having a positive impact on counterfeit fraud,” said Erickson.

According to statistics provided by Visa to USA Today, counterfeit fraud has fallen by roughly 18 percent at some of the largest merchants accepting chip-enabled payments.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.19% 15.16%
Low interest 11.96%
11.96% 11.62%
Cash back 15.30%
Balance transfer 14.39%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.17%
Reward  15.30%
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: April 20, 2016

See related: 8 FAQs about EMV cards

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Updated: 03-21-2019