October 17, 2018: The average credit card interest rate held steady at a record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
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Interest rates have climbed sharply in recent years as the Federal Reserve gradually pushes up interest rates and card issuers tweak offers. A year ago, the average card APR was nearly a full percentage point lower, clocking in at 16.15 percent. Three years ago, average rates were even less expensive – the average card APR on October 17, 2015, was 15.01 percent.
Credit card holders with less-than-perfect credit scores are paying even more to carry a balance on a credit card. The average maximum APR on new credit card offers has climbed to 24.45 percent – an APR that was once reserved only for cardholders with bad credit. Now, even cards that cater to consumers with excellent credit charge maximum APRs near 25 percent.
Meanwhile, the average median APR – which is closer to what most cardholders are likely paying – has climbed to 20.76 percent.
Rate hikes momentarily pause after two weeks of widespread hikes
CreditCards.com came evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 U.S. credit cards. After two weeks of widespread rate hikes, most cards included in this week’s rate report left interest rates alone.
One retail card tracked by CreditCards.com increased its rate by a quarter of a percent in tandem with the Fed’s September 2018 rate hike. However, the change was too small to affect the national average. Shoppers who apply for the Nordstrom Visa Platinum card are now offered a minimum APR of 16.90 percent on non-Nordstrom purchases and a maximum APR of 24.90 percent.
None of the other cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates. However, a number of cards are almost certain to rise sometime soon. J.P. Morgan Chase still hasn’t updated the APRs on its line of credit cards. Once it does, the average card APR will likely rise again, breaking another record.
See related: Historic credit card interest rates chart
Citi revises its line of balance transfer cards
Most cards included in this week’s report left promotional terms alone. But one issuer, Citi, has begun revising the interest-free offers on its line of balance transfer cards. Citi stopped accepting online applications for one of its best-known balance transfer cards, the Citi Diamond Preferred card. So CreditCards.com replaced it in the weekly rate report with another popular card, the Citi Double Cash Card.
The Double Cash card doesn’t offer as long of a balance transfer offer as the Diamond Preferred card, which was well known for its 21-month, interest-free balance transfer period. However, it comes close as it gives cardholders 18 months to pay off a transferred balance interest-free. Once the promotional rate ends for Double Cash cardholders, they can expect to see a standard APR of 15.49 to 25.49 percent.
Cardholders looking for a longer balance transfer period aren’t out of luck, either. Citi recently added a 21-month balance transfer offer to the Citi Simplicity Card, making it Citi’s most generous balance transfer card. However, the standard APR for the Citi Simplicity card is slightly higher than the Double Cash card, coming in at 15.99 to 25.99 percent.
The U.S. Bank Platinum Visa card also offers an extra long promotion, giving new cardholders 20 months to carry an old balance interest-free. Unlike the Citi Simplicity card, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card also offers an equally long introductory APR on new purchases. The Simplicity card, by contrast, only gives cardholders 12 months to carry a new balance, interest-free. The standard APR rate for the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card is by far the lowest of the three with a range of 11.99 to 23.99 percent.
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: Oct. 17, 2018|