Survey: Average card rates remain at 14.96 percent

Interest rates on new credit card offers held steady Wednesday, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

None of the cards monitored by advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 14.96 percent after falling the previous week for the first time in nearly nine months. Average rates on new card offers are now at their lowest point since May.

Most credit card issuers also left promotional offers unchanged. Wells Fargo trimmed the introductory APR and balance transfer period on the Wells Fargo Cash Back College card. Student cardholders now have just six months to take advantage of a 0 percent balance transfer offer and make interest-free purchases. Previously, Wells Fargo gave students up to 12 months to take advantage of the card's promotional offer.

Demand for new credit continues to pick up
After years of waning interest, consumers are stepping up their use of credit and increasingly applying for new cards, according to new research from the credit bureau TransUnion.

According to TransUnion, consumers opened more card accounts in the second quarter of 2015 than they have since the summer 2009, indicating that consumers' interest in new credit may finally be creeping toward pre-recession levels.

"Credit card originations are increasing at a faster pace in the last year, indicating that consumers have an appetite for credit," said TransUnion's Paul Siegfried in a Nov. 16 news release.

Credit card originations are increasing at a faster pace in the last year, indicating that consumers have an appetite for credit

-- Paul Siegfried

Card issuers are also making it somewhat easier for credit card applicants to qualify for a new account, helping boost the total number of credit card originations, and are approving more cardholders with imperfect scores, says Siegfried. "Card issuers are seeking opportunities to lend to nonprime consumers and are slowly opening up credit to these consumers."

More cards in circulation
As a result, the total number of new credit cards in circulation has increased significantly in just the past year.  According to TransUnion, consumers opened roughly 15.2 million credit card accounts in the second quarter of 2015 -- over 12 percent more than they opened during the same time last year.

Credit card issuers were also more generous toward new and current cardholders, giving them significantly more leeway with their cards. Average credit lines for new cardholders with the best credit scores increased by 8.4 percent in the second quarter, while credit lines for cardholders with lower scores grew by 0.7 percent.

By the end of the second quarter, the average credit line for a new cardholder with excellent credit expanded to $10,576, according to TransUnion, while the average credit line for a new cardholder with below average credit grew to $995.

Consumers also added more debt to their cards, TransUnion's Industry Insights Report found. For example, total credit card balances grew to $637 billion in the third quarter -- up from $608 billion in the third quarter of 2014.

Despite charging more overall to their cards, most credit card holders are still managing to pay their balances on time. According to TransUnion, the number of credit card payments that were late by more than 90 days increased somewhat in the third quarter, but delinquencies remained at historically low levels. 

The slight increase in delinquency rates could mean consumers are becoming a little more relaxed about their cards. "The growth in total bank card balances, combined with stable delinquency levels, indicates consumers are comfortable with and willing to use their cards," said Siegfried in the release.'s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 14.96% 14.96%
Low interest 11.62%
11.62% 11.62%
Cash back 15.27%
Balance transfer 14.07%
Business 12.85%
Student 13.14%
Airline 14.91%
Reward  15.09%
Instant approval 18.00%
Bad credit 22.73%
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: Nov. 18, 2015

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Updated: 01-23-2019