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Rate Report

Rate survey: Average card APR remains unchanged at 17.73 percent

Summary

The average APR on new credit card offers remained at a record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

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The average APR on new credit card offers remained at a record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. For the second week in a row, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) registered at 17.73 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.

Most of the cards included in the weekly rate report are currently advertising substantially higher APRs than they advertised a few years ago, forcing cardholders to accept much more responsibility than they might have in the past.

See related:  Historic credit card interest rates chart

Back in the market for a credit card? Watch out for high APRs

Consumers who haven’t shopped for a new card in more than a few years, for example, may be especially surprised by the APRs they are shown when they open a new application. The average credit card APR advertised on new card offers has climbed by more than 2 and a half percentage points since May 2016.

Over the past year, it has climbed at an even faster clip. As a result, even cardholders who applied for a new credit card within the past year may still be in for some sticker shock when they compare credit cards today. In just the last year alone, for example, the average card APR has climbed from an average of 16.71 percent in May 2018 to an average of 17.73 percent today – a difference of more than 1 percentage point.

Cardholders whose credit scores aren’t high enough to qualify for a card’s lowest available rate are contending with even higher interest rates. CreditCards.com only takes into account a card’s lowest available interest rate when calculating the national average. However, most credit cards advertise a wide range of possible interest rates, including maximum rates that often run close to or above 25 percent.

The average maximum card APR is currently 24.99 percent. Many cards included in the weekly rate report advertise even higher interest rates. For example, a number of popular rewards credit cards that are marketed to consumers with good to excellent credit – such as the Chase Freedom card, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – advertise maximum rates well above 25 percent.

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card currently charges a maximum APR of 28.24 percent, while the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card charges a maximum APR of 28.15 percent.

Meanwhile, the average median APR on new credit card offers – which is closer to what many new cardholders are being assigned – is currently 21.36 percent.

APRs for cards already in our wallets are climbing, too

Brand-new credit cards aren’t the only cards showing higher interest rates. According to the Federal Reserve, the average APR on all credit cards – including those cards that consumers have owned for a long time – has climbed to 15.09 percent.

In 2016, by contrast, the national average card APR on open credit card accounts was 12.35 percent. Cards that have been recently charged interest are even more expensive, on average. According to the Fed, the average credit card charged interest in February 2019 carried a 16.91 percent APR.

Interest rates have largely climbed because of the Federal Reserve’s decision to gradually increase its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate. Since most credit cards are variable rate credit cards, their APRs increase in tandem with the U.S. Prime Rate.

Issuers have also pushed up rates on brand-new credit cards after retooling their rewards programs or revising a card’s terms. Several issuers, for example, have independently hiked rates in recent months after revising some of their cards’ offers.

See related:  Guide to rising credit card interest rates

High card interest rates spark controversy

Rising interest rates have caught the attention of some lawmakers who have criticized the high APRs and sparked a debate over acceptable credit card interest rates. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently introduced a proposal that would cap credit card interest rates at 15 percent – which is well below the current norm.

For example, among the 100 cards included in the weekly rate report, just 21 advertise minimum rates below 15 percent. Among those 21 cards:

  • Eight are from smaller banks.
  • Six are business credit cards.
  • Four are credit union cards.
  • None offer maximum rates below 15 percent.

Credit unions cap maximum interest rates at 18 percent.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.73%17.73%17.14%
Low interest14.73%14.73%14.23%
Cash back17.60%17.60%17.21%
Balance transfer16.94%16.94%16.32%
Business15.61%15.61%14.78%
Student17.79%17.79%17.20%
Airline17.50%17.50%17.12%
Rewards17.62%17.62%17.13%
Instant approval20.24%20.24%19.83%
Bad credit25.33%25.33%24.34%
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: May 15, 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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