Rate survey: Average APR lodged at 15 percent for 6th straight week

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

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Interest rates on new credit card offers were left unchanged again this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

None of the issuers tracked by CreditCards.com adjusted interest rates. As a result, the national average APR remained lodged at 15 percent for the sixth consecutive week.

Promotional rates, including 0 percent purchase rates and interest-free balance transfer offers, were also left unchanged.

Issuers have mostly left credit card terms alone this summer. The last time a card tracked by CreditCards.com advertised a new promotional rate, for example, was in early June when Discover trimmed the "it" card's interest-free purchase and balance transfer offer from 15 months to 12 months. Interest rates have also largely stayed the same. The national average APR, for example, has changed just twice since the beginning of May.

Discover cuts selected travel benefits
Discover cardholders were recently notified that Discover card is "streamlining" its travel benefits and, beginning Aug. 1, 2015, will no longer be offering emergency roadside assistance, 24-hour travel help or delayed baggage insurance. 

According to an explanation posted by a Discover representative on Discover's Facebook page, the benefits eliminated were "infrequently used" by cardholders. Discover also says it will be focusing on other credit card perks instead, such as purchase and price protection.

The travel benefits Discover eliminated are commonly featured on other credit cards -- particularly those that carry an annual fee. Some issuers, such as American Express, offer certain travel benefits, such as roadside assistance, to all of its credit and charge cardholders. Others offer the perks on just selected cards, such as airline and premium cards.

Despite the cut in benefits, Discover's only travel card, the Discover "it" Miles card, still offers other travel perks to cardholders, including a $30 travel credit for in-flight WiFi. 

Alternative payments usage growing
Most consumers still prefer to use credit or debit cards or cash to pay for everyday purchases. But according to a new study from the payments company Blackhawk Network, some consumers are stepping up their use of alternative payment methods and choosing to pay with devices such as their mobile phones or smart watches instead.

According to the survey of 1,000 adult consumers, 18 percent said they use an alternative payment method, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, a mobile wallet, a wearable payment device such as a smart watch, or bitcoins for at least some of their everyday purchases.

Among those who use alternative payments, the vast majority -- 68 percent -- said they've been choosing different ways to pay more often this year than they did the year before.

Cash and plastic payment cards are still substantially more popular, however. The survey also found that nearly all respondents -- 93 percent - still use cash for at least some of their everyday purchases. Sixty-eight percent sometimes use debit cards, while a nearly equal number -- 67 percent -- occasionally pay with credit. Only 33 percent said they use prepaid cards to pay for at least some of their purchases.

"Consumers still have a strong preference for traditional payment methods," said Blackhawk's Teri Llach in a news release. "Those payments tools are not going away anytime soon, even as interest in and usage of new payment methods grows."

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% 10.24%
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 29, 2015

See related: Fed survey: Credit card rejections plunge11 credit card travel insurance benefits

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Updated: 03-23-2019