The average APR on new credit card offers remained fixed Wednesday at an all-time record high, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
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The average APR on new credit card offers remained fixed Wednesday at an all-time record high, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. For the second week in a row, the national average APR registered at 17.80 percent, which is the highest weekly average CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates over a decade ago.
Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 U.S. credit cards.
None of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates this week. Promotional terms, such as 0 percent balance transfer offers, were also unchanged
See related: Historic credit card interest rates chart
After years of higher rates, cardholders may soon get a reprieve
APRs on new credit card offers have climbed steadily in recent years, forcing new cardholders to pay significantly more to carry a balance.
Since July 2015, for example, the national average card APR – which only takes into account a card’s lowest available interest rate – has increased by nearly 3 percentage points.
Meanwhile, the average maximum card APR has climbed to 25.16 percent, while the average median card APR – which is closer to what many cardholders are likely being charged – has increased to 21.48 percent.
Cardholders may soon get a reprieve, though, if lenders decide to match a new rate cut announced by the Fed. The rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee voted to cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than a decade on July 31.
That could prompt card issuers to pass the Fed’s rate cut to consumers and lower credit card interest rates. If enough issuers follow the Fed’s example and cut rates by 0.25 percent, the national average APR could drop to its lowest point in more than five months.
However, it’s not clear if many credit card issuers will match the Fed’s rate change.
The Fed has hiked its benchmark interest rate nine times since late 2015. Each time, most credit card issuers have eventually passed the Fed’s rate hike onto consumers and pushed up rates on both new and existing cards.
As a result, the average APR on cards that consumers already own has climbed from 12.09 percent in 2015 to 15.13 percent today, according to the Federal Reserve’s G.19 consumer credit report.
Lenders aren’t required to follow the Fed
But not every issuer has matched the Fed’s rate changes. Lenders are free to set rates independently and aren’t required to increase – or decrease — rates if the Fed decides to change its benchmark interest rate.
In the past, when the Fed has cut its benchmark rate, the national average credit card APR hasn’t decreased by the same amount. The average card APR’s stability during that period indicates that many issuers decided not to pass on the rate cut.
Between 2007 and 2008, for example, the Fed cut its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, by 5 percentage points. But during that same period, the average card APR fell by just over 1 point before climbing steadily over the next two years.
By December 2010 – just 10 months after the Credit CARD Act of 2009 went into effect — the average card APR had climbed by 2.74 percentage points in just two years.
Average rates then remained within rounding distance of 15 percent for more than half a decade before climbing above 16 percent in 2017 in response to the rate hikes.
CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|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.)|
|Updated: July 31, 2019|