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Rate survey: Average card APR drops to 17.74 percent

Summary

The average APR on new credit card offers tumbled Wednesday after multiple credit card issuers matched the Federal Reserve’s July 31 rate cut.

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The average APR on new credit card offers dipped Wednesday after multiple card issuers matched the Federal Reserve’s July 31 rate cut. The national average APR fell to 17.74 percent, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. Previously, the average card APR registered at an all-time high of 17.80 percent.

Several banks clipped APRs by a quarter of a percentage point, including American Express, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank. As a result, the national average APR fell to its lowest point in more than a month.

Despite this week’s decline, the average card APR continues to remain near record highs.

Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional fees of 100 U.S. credit cards.

Since CreditCards.com started checking rates in mid-2007, the average credit card APR has climbed by nearly five percentage points. Meanwhile, minimum credit card APRs below 13 percent have become all-but-extinct at major banks.

Maximum APRs have also broken records in recent years as more card issuers extend the APRs that new cardholders may be charged. The average consumer credit card, for example, now advertises a maximum APR of 25.10 percent. Meanwhile, the average median card APR currently stands at 21.42 percent.

See related:  Historic credit card interest rates chart

More lenders may cut rates in the coming weeks

Not every card applicant is being offered lower rates this week. Several banks, including Bank of America, Chase and Citi, left APRs on new card offers unchanged, despite lowering their benchmark lending rates to 5.25 percent on August 1.

When the Federal Reserve revises its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, banks typically match the Fed’s rate change. However, they don’t always pass the change on to new customers – at least not right away.

Some banks take a few weeks to revise the APRs on new card offers. As a result, lenders may cut rates on new offers soon as they gradually respond to the Fed’s first rate cut in more than 10 years.

Others may choose to leave APRs unchanged. Lenders aren’t required to match the Fed’s rate change on new offers.

However, most lenders have opted to match the Fed’s rate change when it increases interest rates.

See related:  How to manage credit card debt ahead of the next recession

Citi continues to hike rates

Despite cutting its base lending rate on Aug. 1, Citi advertised a higher APR on at least one of its credit cards this week.

Consumers who apply for a Citi® Double Cash Card are now charged an APR ranging from 15.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable. Previously, Citi advertised a minimum of 15.74 percent and a maximum APR of 25.74 percent.

Citi has hiked APRs on a number of cards in recent months, including the Citi Simplicity® Card and the Citi Premier℠ Card. The Premier card, for example, now charges a minimum APR of 17.99 percent variable – up from a previous low of 16.74 percent. Meanwhile, Citi bumped the minimum APR on the Simplicity card from 16.24 percent to 16.74 percent variable.

Despite cuts, card rates continue to be unusually high

If more issuers decide to cut rates in the coming weeks, the national average APR could fall to its lowest point in months. However, even if the average card APR dropped by a quarter of a percentage point, it would still be near record highs.

After years of remaining within rounding distance of 15 percent, the average card APR has climbed by more than 2 percentage points since 2017.

The Federal Reserve has spurred some of those interest rate increases. However, several lenders have also helped push up average interest rates by independently hiking the APRs on a number of cards.

Rate cuts, by contrast, have been much rarer in recent years, including on low interest cards that don’t offer a rewards program.

As a result, the national average APR has declined just three times over the past year. It has increased 26 times.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average17.74%17.80%17.55%
Low interest14.69%14.74%14.57%
Cash back17.67%17.68%17.66%
Balance transfer15.60%15.68%16.72%
Business15.57%15.61%15.09%
Student17.69%17.79%17.79%
Airline17.53%17.59%17.39%
Rewards17.53%17.58%17.51%
Instant approval20.22%20.24%20.04%
Bad credit25.27%25.33%24.99%
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: August 7, 2019

What’s up next?

In Rate Report

Rate survey: Average card APR holds steady at 17.80 percent

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.

Published: July 31, 2019

See more stories
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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