Rate survey: Average card APR breaks record, climbing to 16.68 percent

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The average credit card interest rate hit another record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The average minimum card APR climbed to 16.68 percent – nearly a full percentage point higher than last year – as credit card issuers continued to pass along to consumers the Federal Reserve’s March 2018 rate hike. Meanwhile, the average maximum credit card interest rate ballooned to 23.98 percent – which is nearly as high as the average minimum rate that lenders charge consumers with bad credit.

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

Among the 100 cards included in the weekly rate report, 11 cards – all from Chase bank  – posted slightly higher interest rates. Each of the cards increased rates by a quarter of a percent, matching the Fed's 0.25 percent increase.

When the Federal Reserve alters its benchmark interest, the federal funds rate, most U.S. card issuers eventually raise rates by the same amount.

Chase is one of the last major issuers to match the Federal Reserve’s latest rate hike.

Rates continue to climb, squeezing cardholders' budgets

The Federal Reserve is expected to increase rates again at least twice more this year, driving card APRs even higher. When that happens, the average card APR is likely to break 17 percent for the first time on record – a big departure from previous years when average rates on new card offers largely stayed below 15 percent.

Meanwhile, the average maximum rate is likely to inch closer to 25 percent – an interest rate that was once typically reserved for subprime credit cards.

Many of the cards included in the weekly rate report that advertise a range of APRs already post maximum APRs just below – or slightly above – 25 percent. For example, among the 100 cards included in the weekly rate report:

  • 33 cards charge maximum rates above 25 percent.
  • 29 cards charge maximum rates between 24 and 25 percent.
  • 30 cards charge maximum rates between 20 and 24 percent.

Many of the cards that now charge maximum rates close to 25 percent are rewards cards marketed to consumers with good to excellent credit, contradicting the assumption some cardholders may have that these kinds of rates are only for consumers with bad credit.

For example, the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express charges a maximum APR of 25.49 percent. Similarly, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card charges a maximum APR of 26.49 percent, while the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card charges a maximum APR of 24.49 percent.

Some store cards even charge maximum rates closer to 30 percent. For example, the Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards card charges a maximum APR of 28.49 percent.

The maximum rates on cards for consumers with good to excellent indicate many consumers in the U.S. may well be paying more than the national average of 16.68 percent to carry a balance. CreditCards.com only considers a card’s lowest possible rate when calculating the average interest rate. However, most credit cards charge a wide range of possible APRs.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report

  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.68% 16.65%
Low interest 13.49%
13.48% 12.89%
Cash back 16.93%
Balance transfer 15.90%
Business 14.34%
Student 16.14%
Airline 16.66%
Rewards 16.78%
Instant approval 18.99%
Bad credit 23.74%
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 25, 2018

See related: Historic credit card rates chart, Guide to rising credit card interest rates


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Updated: 02-16-2019