Rate survey: Average card rate holds steady at 16.96 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report

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The average credit card interest rate remained at a record high Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

CreditCards.com evaluated the APRs, promotional terms and annual fees of 100 U.S. credit cards. None of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average APR remained fixed at 16.96 percent for the second week.

Most issuers also left annual fees and promotional rates unchanged.

U.S. Bank added a 12-month promotional offer to the Harley-Davidson Signature Visa card. Harley-Davidson fans can now get 12 months of interest-free purchases and balance transfers. New cardholders are also eligible for $100 in Harley-Davidson gift cards.

Meanwhile, Citi bumped up the annual fee on the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard by $4, increasing it from $95 to $99 a year. Citi also began advertising a 70,000-mile sign-up bonus after cardholders charge $4,000 in three months.

A spate of annual fee increases on rewards-heavy travel cards

The CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard is at least the fourth travel card this month to increase its annual fee.

Among the 100 cards tracked by CreditCards.com, for example, three others – the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard and the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard from Barclaycard and the Hyatt card from Chase – also began advertising higher fees this month. In all four cases, the higher fees have been accompanied by enhanced rewards – either through bigger bonuses or stronger rewards benefits.

The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard now costs $79 a year – up from $69. It also offers a larger suite of benefits, including the ability to earn elite status on the airline through credit card charges, rather than miles flown. Most other airlines require you to fly a certain amount to receive a nod toward elite status – a coveted benefit that awards special perks, such as special seating and fee waivers. 

Barclaycard also revamped the card’s rewards categories, allowing cardholders to earn more miles when they travel. For example, cardholders now get five miles for every dollar spent on Frontier Airline purchases, up from two miles. In addition, they get three miles for every dollar spent on restaurant purchases, up from one mile.

Similarly, the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard also charges a higher annual fee now in exchange for sweeter benefits. The airline card now charges $99 instead of $89. In addition, it offers a much more generous rewards program, including a bigger spending bonus and stronger rewards for everyday purchases. Cardholders can now get 50,000 bonus miles if they spend $3,000 in the card’s first three months. They also earn three miles for every dollar spent on Hawaiian Airlines purchases and two miles per dollar spent on groceries, gas and restaurant purchases. Previously, cardholders earned 2 miles per dollar spent on airline purchases and one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.  

The Hyatt card from Chase recently received a makeover. Now called the World of Hyatt credit card, the hotel card now has a $95 annual fee, up from $75. In exchange for a higher fee, cardholders are now awarded four points for every dollar spent on hotel purchases instead of three points. In addition, they can claim a two-point bonus on a range of travel and everyday purchases, including restaurants, airfare, taxis and gym memberships.

The trend toward expanded bonus categories on travel cards is good news for cardholders who want to earn bonuses throughout the year, not just when they travel. It used to be much harder to find a travel card that offered more than one point per dollar spent on everyday purchases. Instead, most travel cards reserved bonus points for airline or hotel spending only. As a result, cardholders who wanted to earn free travel but couldn’t afford to leave home more than a few times a year didn’t benefit nearly as much from traditional airline and hotel cards.

Today’s enhanced rewards make it easier for occasional travelers to stockpile points or miles throughout the year. It also makes it more likely that they’ll earn a free trip in a relatively short amount of time.

See related: Historical credit card rates, 2007-2018

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report

  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.96% 16.96%
Low interest 13.85%
13.85% 13.09%
Cash back 17.19%
Balance transfer 16.21%
Business 14.59%
Student 16.48%
Airline 16.91%
Rewards 17.03%
Instant approval 19.22%
Bad credit 23.90%
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 25, 2018

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Updated: 03-23-2019