Rate survey: Average card APR breaks new record, climbing to 17.08 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report

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Consumers searching for a new card are continuing to confront record high interest rates. The average credit card interest rate on new card offers climbed to another all-time high on Wednesday, hitting 17.08 percent. 

Average rates on new card offers are now almost a full percentage point higher than they were last year, according to CreditCards.com’s Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. In October 2017, for example, the average card APR was 16.15 percent. A year prior, they stood at 15.18 percent – almost two points lower than they are now. 

Maximum interest rates are also at record highs. The average maximum APR, for example, is now 24.45 percent – higher than the average minimum APR for subprime credit cards. A number of cards that are marketed to consumers with good to excellent credit now advertise maximum APRs near 25 percent. That has helped push the average maximum card APR to all-time highs. 

Meanwhile, the average median card APR – which is closer to what most cardholders are likely being charged – has climbed to 20.77 percent.  

See related: Historic credit card interest rates chart 

HSBC and PNC Bank revise rates

This week’s rate hike was spurred by HSBC and PNC Bank, both of which revised their card offers in line with the Federal Reserve’s September 2018 rate hike. When the Fed increases its benchmark interest rate, most card issuers eventually hike rates by the same amount. 

HSBC raised the minimum APR on the HSBC Advance Mastercard, for example, from a low of 16.74 percent to a low of 16.99 percent. It also increased the card’s maximum APR from 20.74 percent to a high of 20.99 percent.

Similarly, PNC Bank increased the APR on the PNC Points Visa Business card by a quarter of a percentage point after revising rates on its line of personal cards earlier in the month. PNC customers searching for a points card for their business are now offered a minimum APR of 12.99 percent and a maximum APR of 21.99 percent. 

None of the other cards included in the weekly rate advertised new APRs. Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the interest rates, promotional APRs and annual fees of 100 U.S. credit cards. 

Most cards included in the weekly rate report also left promotional terms alone. However, Chase has begun floating a 12-month 0 percent offer on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The regular variable APR on that card currently stands at 17.24 to 24.74 percent.

Not all web visitors are shown the interest-free purchase and balance transfer offer, though. Occasionally, card issuers test offers by showing alternative rates or promotions to different computer users.  

Citi is getting ready to re-launch the Citi Prestige card

Citi has also been busy this month. It recently revamped its line of balance transfer cards, cutting the Citi Diamond Preferred card from its lineup and adding a 21-month interest-free balance transfer offer to the Citi Simplicity card (after the promotional period, the minimum APR is 15.99 percent and the maximum is 25.99 percent based on creditworthiness). 

Now, it’s getting ready to re-launch its signature luxury card, the Citi Prestige credit card. Citi is planning to release an updated version of the Prestige card in January after taking it offline in August.

In addition to a slightly higher annual fee, the new $495 super premium credit card will offer a higher rewards rate, including a rare 5 point bonus for every dollar spent on restaurant purchases and air travel. Many competitors, by contrast, offer just 2 to 3 points for travel and dining purchases. 

The new rewards program will make the Citi Prestige card one of the most lucrative cards available for restaurant spending. Previously, the Uber Visa card and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card occupied the top slot, awarding restaurant-goers 4 points for every dollar they spent. 

Citi will also relax the rules around its $250 travel credit, allowing cardholders to use it for any travel purchase, not just airfare. The move will make the card more competitive with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which also allows cardholders to use their credit on any travel purchase, including rental cars and taxis. 

However, Citi is curbing the Prestige card’s most unique credit card perk, the infamous fourth night free hotel benefit. Cardholders will only get a free night’s hotel stay twice per year. Previously, heavy travelers who frequently booked four nights in a row could use the benefit as often as they liked.  

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report

  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 17.08% 17.07%
16.65%
Low interest 14.18%
14.17% 13.48%
Cash back 17.14%
17.14%
16.90%
Balance transfer 16.34%
16.34%
15.87%
Business 14.76%
14.74%
14.32%
Student 17.20%
17.20%
16.14%
Airline 17.05%
17.05%
16.59%
Rewards 17.07%
17.06%
16.75%
Instant approval 19.74%
19.74%
18.97%
Bad credit 24.30%
24.30%
23.74%
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: Oct. 24, 2018


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Updated: 11-16-2018