Rate survey: Average card rates hold steady at 15 percent

Interest rates on new credit card offers held still this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate remained at 15 percent Wednesday after increasing the previous week.

None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com offered new interest rates. Promotional terms, including 0 percent balance transfer offers and introductory APRs, also remained unchanged. 

Average rates on new credit card offers are currently at a seven-month high. After remaining at or above 15 percent for most of 2014, interest rates slumped in November and remained below 15 percent for more than two quarters.

After declining intermittently between November 2014 and March 2015, interest rates began picking up again toward the end of the first quarter and have increased four times since the last week of March. 

Issuers leaving promotional terms alone
Online offers haven't changed much in recent months. According to CreditCards.com data, most card offers tracked have been advertising the same promotional terms since the beginning of January.

Among the small number of cards that have changed things up, several have either eliminated the promotional offer or are now advertising shorter interest-free promotions. Only three issuers, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Citi, have sweetened the promotional terms on cards tracked by CreditCards.com.

Data provided by the financial services firm Credit Suisse also shows that, for much of 2015, issuers mailed fewer offers containing a 0 percent balance transfer rates or purchase rates.

Research from the financial newsletter Nilson Report indicates that card issuers may have an uphill battle when it comes to convincing consumers to use more high-interest credit. According to Nilson, card balances make up a much smaller percentage of consumers' total debt loads than they did before the Great Recession. For example, by the end of 2014, card debt made up just 26.58 percent of total consumer debt owed to banks and other finance companies.

"This is the lowest level of card debt to total consumer credit since 1990, when it was 29.42 percent," said the Nilson Report's David Robertson in a June 24 news release. "Card debt was highest in 1997, when it was 40.95 percent of consumer credit."

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.00% 15.00%
Low interest 11.62%
11.62% 10.37%
Cash back 15.27%
Balance transfer 14.12%
Business 12.85%
Student 13.14%
Airline 15.10%
Reward  15.14%
Instant approval 18.00%
Bad credit 22.73%
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: July 1, 2015

See related: Poll: Americans sleeping better as economy recovers

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Updated: 02-21-2019