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Rate survey: Average card APR climbs to record high of 17.76 percent

Summary

The average APR on new credit card offers broke another all-time record this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

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The average APR on new credit card offers broke another all-time record this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average APR climbed to 17.76 percent for the first time since CreditCards.com began tracking credit card interest rates more than a decade ago.

The national average card APR is now almost a full percentage point higher than it was last year when the average card APR stood at 16.81 percent. It’s also more than two and a half percentage points higher than it was in June 2016, when average rates stood at just 15.18 percent.

The national average card APR has increased steadily since late 2015 when the Federal Reserve first began hiking federal interest rates after a long, multiyear pause.

Card issuers have also helped push up interest rates in recent months by independently hiking APRs on new offers. As a result, consumers shopping for a new card are seeing record high interest rates – particularly on travel rewards cards that are marketed to more affluent customers with good to excellent credit. According to CreditCards.com data, the average rewards card charges a minimum APR of 17.58 percent, while the average airline card charges a minimum APR of 17.59 percent.

Credit card issuers aren’t just increasing minimum interest rates. Maximum interest rates on new credit card offers have also hit record highs in recent years as issuers continue to raise the interest rate ceilings on their newest cards.

CreditCards.com’s national average APR only takes into account a card’s lowest possible interest rate. However, most credit cards advertise a wide range of potential interest rates, including maximum card APRs that are often 7 to 10 percent points higher than a card’s minimum rate.

The average maximum rate, for example, currently stands at 25.16 percent, which is more than 7 percentage points higher than the average minimum.

Meanwhile, the average median card APR – which is closer to what many cardholders are being charged – is currently 21.96 percent.

Average APRs on new card offers could have increased even more this month if the Federal Reserve had elected to increase its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate. However, the Fed announced June 19 it would leave rates alone for now.

See related:  Historic credit card interest rates chart

Citi hikes rates on select cards

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

Among the 100 cards included in the weekly rate report, two cards advertised higher rates this week, causing the national average APR to increase.

Citi independently increased the APRs on at least two of its flagship credit cards: the Citi Simplicity Card and the Citi Premier Card.

It increased the minimum APR on the Citi Premier card by one and a half percentage points. It also increased the card’s maximum APR by half a percentage point. Cardholders looking for a premium travel rewards card are now offered a minimum variable APR starting at 18.24 percent and a maximum variable APR starting at 26.24 percent.

Citi also made a more modest change to its plain vanilla balance transfer card, the Citi Simplicity card. It increased both the card’s minimum APR and the card’s maximum APR by three quarters of a percentage point. As a result, applicants are now offered an APR range of 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent variable.

Despite the higher rates on new card offers, some consumers may still see slightly lower rates when they access an application. Like many credit card issuers, Citi continues to show different rates to different applicants. Some applicants, for example, are still being shown lower rates on the Citi Premier card and the Citi Simplicity card. Others who visit Citi’s website are shown a higher rate. Citi has also begun advertising the higher rates on third-party sites, such as CreditCards.com.

See related:  Guide to rising credit card interest rates

Citi also readjusts its benefits

In addition to revising some of its card offers, Citi has also begun retooling some of its rewards and benefits. For example, the card issuer announced this week that it will begin letting select cardholders redeem their credit card rewards points for everyday purchases, such as groceries, gas, movie tickets and more.

Citi is also getting ready to dramatically scale back the benefits it offers, including some travel and purchase protections. Cardholders were notified June 24 that a number of benefits would be cut from their cards.

Depending on the card, benefit cuts include Citi’s Price Rewind benefit, as well as numerous travel protections, such as car rental insurance and trip delay protection.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.76%17.73%17.21%
Low interest14.72%14.71%14.19%
Cash back17.68%17.68%17.26%
Balance transfer15.59%15.57%16.37%
Business15.61%15.61%14.78%
Student17.79%17.79%17.51%
Airline17.59%17.54%17.12%
Rewards17.58%17.57%17.18%
Instant approval20.24%20.24%19.83%
Bad credit25.33%25.33%24.77%
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: June 26, 2019

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Published: June 26, 2019

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: October 16th, 2019
Business
15.18%
Airline
17.11%
Cash Back
17.25%
Reward
17.13%
Student
17.29%

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