Rate survey: Average card APR sets new record

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The average credit card interest rate broke a new record this week as lenders continued to adjust APRs upward on new cards, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. The average credit card APR climbed to 16.73 percent, which is the highest average APR CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates in mid-2007. 

CreditCards.com reviewed the APRs, promotional terms and annual fees of a representative sample of 100 U.S. credit cards. Three of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised higher interest rates, causing the national average to rise.

This is the 11th time this year where the national average card APR has established a new record high. The last time the national average fell was in December 2017.

Bank of America spurred this week’s rate hike by boosting the APRs on three of its credit cards. It increased the APRs on the BankAmericard Mastercard and the BankAmericard for Students by 1 percentage point. As a result, both cards now advertise a range starting at 14.49 percent and maxing out at 24.49 percent. Meanwhile, it also nudged the APR on the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card up by a quarter of a percent. Cardholders considering this a cash back card are now offered a minimum rate of 14.74 percent and a maximum rate of 24.74 percent.

Consumers tune out as card terms and benefits worsen

Average rates on new card offers have climbed by nearly 2 percentage points since 2015 as card issuers adjust offers and the Federal Reserve slowly increases its benchmark interest rate. When the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, the APRs on most variable rate cards go up in tandem – including on cards consumers have owned for years. As a result, nearly everyone these days is paying slightly more to carry a credit card balance.

However, new research from CreditCards.com indicates many consumers may not be aware of just how much more they’re paying. A CreditCards.com survey released May 13 found nearly half of consumers who revolve a balance on at least one card – 48 percent – aren’t exactly sure how much they’re charged in interest. Thirty-two percent said they don’t know their card APRs at all.

Many consumers are also clueless about their card rewards. According to an April 2018 survey by NextAdvisor, 45 percent of consumers confess to being “confused” by credit card rewards. Many aren’t sure how to redeem them and a substantial number don’t even know how many rewards points they’ve earned.

Meanwhile, consumers have also paid little attention to the ancillary benefits that their credit cards offer. For example, a February 2018 report released by Market Strategies International found most consumers aren’t sure what other benefits their cards offer. Just 19 percent of consumers could name all the benefits on their cards.

That laissez-faire attitude toward card benefits and terms may be hurting consumers’ pocketbooks. It’s not just card APRs that are growing less attractive. Some card issuers are also trimming benefits or cutting them completely. 

Chase, for example, is dropping key benefits from its credit cards, including credit card price protection and return protection, according to multiple reports.

Meanwhile, Citi is getting ready to shrink the total amount of money consumers can get back when they utilize the card issuer’s Price Rewind feature.

Earlier this year, Discover also cut a large number of benefits, including rental car protection, purchase protection and extended warranty, citing low customer usage.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report

  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.73% 16.71%
16.15%
Low interest 13.58%
13.53% 12.89%
Cash back 16.99%
16.98%
16.40%
Balance transfer 15.96%
15.93%
15.38%
Business 14.34%
14.34%
13.68%
Student 16.26%
16.14%
15.70%
Airline 16.66%
16.66%
16.07%
Rewards 16.81%
16.81%
16.24%
Instant approval 19.05%
19.05%
18.60%
Bad credit 23.77%
23.77%
23.46%
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 16, 2018

See related: Fed: Card balances fell by $2.6 billion in March, Historical credit card rates, 2007-2018

 


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Updated: 09-21-2018