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Rate survey: Average card APR sits tight at 17.76 percent

Summary

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

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The average APR on new credit card offers didn’t budge Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. None of the cards monitored by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average APR remained at a record high of 17.76 percent for the third week in a row.

Issuers also left promotional terms, including introductory APRs and 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 issuers monitored by CreditCards.com have left interest rates alone in recent weeks. However, a handful of issuers, including Citi, Bank of America and American Express, have revised the APRs on select cards, causing average APRs to increase.

The national average interest rate for new credit card offers is currently at its highest point in more than a decade, thanks in part to federal rate hikes and individual offer changes.

Interest rates have climbed at an especially fast clip since 2015 when the Federal Reserve first began increasing its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, after a lengthy, multiyear pause. In July 2015, for example, the average card APR stood at just 15 percent – a nearly three-point difference from where it stands today.

Maximum interest rates have also steadily increased as lenders continue to widen the range of possible APRs for each card. CreditCards.com only takes into account a card’s lowest available interest rate when calculating the national average. However, most cards advertise a wide range of possible interest rates, including maximum APRs that typically run well above 20 percent.

The average maximum APR, for example, currently stands at 25.16 percent. Meanwhile, the average median card APR, which is closer to what many applicants are likely to be charged, is currently 21.46 percent.

Consumers could get a slight reprieve this summer, though, if the Federal Reserve decides to cut rates.

See related:  Historic credit card interest rates chart

Fed chairman signals possible rate cut

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress July 10 the Fed was closely watching a number of economic indicators that could prompt it to ease monetary policy and cut interest rates.

The Fed is particularly concerned about U.S. businesses dampening their investments in response to global uncertainty and tensions over trade.

As a result, the Fed may decide to cut rates for the first time in more than a decade in order to help the U.S. economy weather significant changes.

An upcoming rate cut isn’t certain. But according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at  Pantheon Macroeconomics, “an easing in July is much more likely than not.”

“The Fed’s collective view is that easing policy now is a low-risk move,” wrote Shepherdson in a July 10 data note.

If the Fed decides to cut interest rates, lenders may also decide to lower rates on credit cards and other variable rate loans that are tied to the U.S. prime rate.

See related:  Guide to rising credit card interest rates

Rate cut may not spur mass APR reductions

However, widespread rate cuts on new credit card offers aren’t necessarily guaranteed.

The last time the Fed dramatically cut interest rates, CreditCards.com data only showed modest decreases in the national average.

For example, in early September 2007, the national average APR stood at 13.35 percent. A year later, the national average had fallen by just over 2 percentage points, even though the federal funds rate had decreased by 3.25 percentage points.

Issuers consider a number of factors when setting a credit card’s APR. However, most tend to increase rates on new and existing credit cards when the Fed hikes its benchmark rate.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.76%17.76%17.41%
Low interest14.72%14.72%14.40%
Cash back17.68%17.68%17.49%
Balance transfer15.59%15.59%16.59%
Business15.61%15.61%15.05%
Student17.79%17.79%17.79%
Airline17.59%17.59%17.32%
Rewards17.58%17.58%17.38%
Instant approval20.24%20.24%19.97%
Bad credit25.33%25.33%24.96%
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 10, 2019

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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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