Rate survey: Average card APR holds steady at 16.15 percent for sixth week

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit


Interest rates on new card offers remained at a record high Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

None of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new rates. As a result, the national average APR stayed at a record high of 16.15 percent for the sixth consecutive week.

This is the longest stretch of time that APRs have remained unchanged since 2016. For most of 2017, the national average APR has moved steadily upward as card issuers adjust to the Federal Reserve’s ongoing rate hikes.

Most issuers also left promotional rates and other terms unchanged. Capital One hiked the annual fee on its travel card, the Venture Rewards card. Cardholders now have to pay $95 a year – up from $59.

Meanwhile, the SelfScore Achieve Mastercard has been renamed. It is now the Deserve Edu MasterCard.

Mastercard will stop requiring signatures at checkout
If you own a Mastercard, you could soon find yourself spending a bit less time at checkout. Beginning in April 2018, Mastercard will no longer require signatures for any customer transactions.

“Eliminating the need for signature is another step in the digital evolution of payments and payment security,” wrote Mastercard’s Linda Kirkpatrick in a blog post announcing the change. “At first glance, this might sound like a radical proclamation, especially to people who have had credit and debit cards for decades. However, the change matches all of our expectations for fast and convenient shopping experiences.”

Already, most credit card transactions don’t require a signature. According to Kirkpatrick, over 80 percent of Mastercard purchases made in store are processed without a signature. Meanwhile, other card networks, such as Visa, Discover and American Express, also allow customers to make small purchases – typically under $50 – without signing for them. 

However, stores often require signatures for larger transactions, such as a $100 grocery bill or a $200 clothes purchase. The signatures aren’t typically used to verify a customer’s identity at the time of a transaction. However, investigators could later analyze the signatures if a fraud complaint is launched.

Mastercard says getting rid of signatures won’t affect the safety of customers’ transactions. “Our secure network and state-of-the-art systems combined with new digital payment methods that include chip, tokenization, biometrics and specialized digital platforms use newer and more secure methods to verify identity,” wrote Kirkpatrick.

However, it could speed up customers’ transactions. Mastercard research has found that cardholders place a high premium on getting through transactions quickly. “Our consumer research found that a majority of people believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn’t need to sign when making a purchase,” wrote Kirkpatrick. 

Faster checkout is also a boon to retailers, says Mastercard, since it keeps customers happy, helps stores process more people in a shorter time period and saves money on security.  

Not paying with a signature will set U.S. transactions further apart from stores around the globe, though. Many retailers abroad require cardholders to enter a PIN to authenticate a transaction. 

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.15% 16.15%
Low interest 12.89%
12.89% 12.57%
Cash back 16.40%
Balance transfer 15.38%
Business 13.68%
Student 15.70%
Airline 16.07%
Reward  16.24%
Instant approval 18.60%
Bad credit 23.46%
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. 25, 2017

See related: Historic credit card rate chart, 2017 Retail Store Card Survey: Customers lured to high-interest cards with more rewards

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Updated: 02-19-2019