Rate survey: Average card APR holds steady at 15.18 percent

Interest rates on new credit card offers didn’t budge 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) remained unchanged at 15.18 percent. None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates.

Promotional terms, such as 0 percent balance transfer offers, also remained unchanged.

Average rates on new card offers are currently at record highs. The average APR for 2016, for example, rose to 15.17 percent this month – up from an average of 14.92 percent during the same period in 2015. It’s the highest average APR for the first half of the year that CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates in mid-2007.

This year’s higher rates are likely here to stay. The last time average rates fell below 15.10 percent was in December 2015.

Older millennials are the biggest holders of credit cards
Millennial consumers  are widely believed to be less interested in credit cards than older generations, thanks in part to reluctance to take on more debt. But that's a misleading oversimplification. According to new research from FICO, it really depends on which millennials you mean. Millennials 25 and older are, in fact, the most avid credit card holders of any age group. 

FICO surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers over the age of 17 and found that 83 percent of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 own at least one credit card. That's more than any other age group. Young millennials (ages 18-24) are least likely to have credit cards (67 percent have them). In between are those age 34-49 (76 percent) and older than 50 (78 percent).

Among the older millennials who have a card, roughly 50 percent own at least three cards or more and 37 percent plan to apply for another one relatively soon.

The survey also found that consumers in their late 20s and early 30s are also more likely than older generations to carry a modest balance, despite a widespread belief that recession-scarred millennials are thriftier than their older siblings and parents. For example, 31 percent of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 owe between $1,000 and $4,999 on their cards each month. Fewer than 23 percent of consumers in other age groups, by contrast, reported similar balances. Millennials were also more likely than other age groups to carry a balance between $5,000 and $9,999, said FICO.

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 helped depress millennial card ownership overall by making it harder for younger millennials to qualify for cards. But as millennials age, interest in new cards appears to surge.

“There is no doubt that the CARD Act of 2009 reduced the number of credit card carrying adults under the age of 21, which was its intended impact,” wrote Joshua Schnoll, FICO senior director of product marketing, in a June 22 blog post about the survey. “Indeed, FICO’s research shows that just 64 percent of millennials 18-24 have credit cards. However, older millennials 25-34 now own cards at a higher rate (83 percent) than Generation X or those 50 and older.”

Like older generations, millennials are attracted to cards with substantial cash back, lower interest rates and no annual fees. But unlike earlier generations, they expect more from their credit cards, FICO’s survey found, and they want safer cards, easy-to-use mobile banking and more guardrails that keep them from overspending.

For example, the survey found that most millennials want account notifications to help guard against fraud and want their cards to offer “enhanced security.” Nearly half say they also want more control over their budgets and spending limits – a rare perk not typically offered on contemporary cards. For example, 47 percent say they want to be able to “turn on or off” their ability to shop at selected merchants. Meanwhile, 45 percent also want to be able to decide ahead of time what purchases are allowed.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.18% 15.18%
Low interest 11.98%
11.98% 11.74%
Cash back 15.32%
Balance transfer 14.38%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.08%
Reward  15.29%
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: June 29, 2016

See related: Millennials most likely to fall prey to scams, Why your credit card issuer really wants to text you

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Updated: 03-26-2019