The average APR on new credit card offers ticked up this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
After remaining at 15.18 percent for nine consecutive weeks, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) rose to 15.19 percent.
American Express sparked this week’s rate increase by hiking the APR on two of its airline cards. It bumped the lowest available interest rates on the Gold Delta SkyMiles card and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card from 15.49 to 15.99 percent, causing the national average to increase.
It also expanded the cards’ maximum rates by more than 5 percentage points, widening the APR spread to 9 points. Delta Airlines fans are now offered a maximum APR of 24.99 percent. CreditCards.com considers only a card’s lowest available interest rate when calculating average rates, though, so the wider range didn’t affect the national average.
Barclaycard also expanded the range of possible APRs on one of its cards this week. It increased the highest available APR on the Wyndham Rewards Visa card from 20.49 to 25.24 percent.
Card issuers have been much more likely in recent months to increase cards’ maximum rates rather than change the lowest available interest rates.
Since July 1, for example:
- American Express increased the maximum APR on two of its airline credit cards by 5 percentage points.
- Barclays also increased the maximum APR on the Wyndham Rewards Visa card by nearly 5 percentage points and hiked the maximum APR on the Carnival World MasterCard by 3 percentage points.
- Chase increased the maximum rate on the IHG Rewards Club Select MasterCard by 7 percentage points
- Huntington Bank increased the maximum rate on the Huntington Voice Rewards card by 2 percentage points.
As a result, the average APR range on new credit card offers continues to get wider. For example, the average spread between a card’s lowest available rate and its highest rate is now 6.95 percentage points – up from 6.6 percentage points in July. Thirty-four cards included in the Weekly Rate Report now advertise an APR range as wide as 10 percentage points or more. An equal number advertise spreads as wide as 7 to 9 percentage points.
Meanwhile, just 20 cards advertise one flat rate. Most cards that advertise a single interest rate are cards for consumers who need to build or rebuild credit or are business credit cards.
The wider APR spreads indicate that card issuers are reaching out to a larger base of potential customers and are accepting more applicants with lower scores.
According to new research from the credit bureau TransUnion, card issuers are doling out substantially more credit cards this year than in the first several years after the Great Recession. Many of those new cards have gone to applicants who are new to credit or who have relatively low credit scores.
In just the past year, issuers approved cards for 10 million consumers who were either new to credit or hadn’t owned a card in a while, according to TransUnion’s latest Industry Insights Report. As a result, the total amount of new cards issued in the second quarter of 2016 rose to 15.28 million – up from 13.5 million new credit cards in the second quarter of 2015.
Cardholders are also carrying somewhat larger balances, says TransUnion. The total amount of debt cardholders carried in the second quarter of 2016 rose to $662 billion – up from $623 billion in the year prior. In all, 133 million cardholders in the United States have at least one card with a balance, TransUnion says.
Despite cardholders carrying slightly more debt, late payments on credit cards continue to be rare. The credit card delinquency rate, which measures late payments by 30 days or more, only rose slightly in the second quarter.
“Our latest industry insight report still points to a healthy consumer credit market,” said TransUnion’s Nidhi Verma in an Aug. 16 news release. “While more subprime consumers are receiving loans and their balances are rising, we do not see alarming delinquency levels.”
Many credit card issuers have kept a tight lid on unsecured credit by offering relatively low credit limits to cardholders with lower scores.
|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: Aug. 17, 2016|