Rate survey: Average card APR sits tight at 17.14 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report

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Average rates on new credit card offers remained at a record high Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. For the third consecutive week, the national average APR stood at 17.14 percent. That’s the highest weekly average CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates in mid-2007. 

Interest rates have climbed sharply in recent years as the Federal Reserve gradually increases its benchmark interest rate. Before this year, for example, the highest weekly average CreditCards.com had ever recorded was 16.24 percent. 

In November 2015 – just before the Fed increased interest rates for the first time in years – the highest weekly average CreditCards.com had recorded was 15.22 percent.

Interest rates are expected to keep rising. After the Fed’s last rate-setting meeting, committee members predicted they would likely raise rates at least three more times before the end of 2019. 

As a result, the average card APR could come close to 18 percent by 2020. When the Fed increases its benchmark interest rate, most lenders increase APRs on credit cards and other variable rate loans by the same amount. 

See related: Historic credit card interest rates chart 

Most issuers are leaving rates alone for now

Now that most issuers have finished matching the latest rate change, they appear to be taking a break from tweaking rates. 

Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 U.S. credit cards. Among the 100 cards included in the weekly rate report, most credit cards advertised the same rates as they did last week. As a result, the average card APR remained unchanged for the third consecutive week. 

Not all issuers are leaving rates alone, though.  

Capital One floats higher rates, bigger sign-up bonuses

Capital One recently began advertising a substantially higher interest rate on some of its rewards cards, such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. But not all applicants are being shown the same offer and so CreditCards.com didn’t include the change in its weekly report.

Occasionally, credit card issuers float new rates and other terms by presenting different terms to different computer users. 

For example, some online applicants who apply for the Capital One Quicksilver card are currently being offered a range of APRs starting at 18.78 percent – which is well above the national average – and maxing out at 27.74 percent. Others are being offered a starting APR of 14.74 percent and a maximum APR of 24.74 percent. 

Similarly, cardholders who apply for the Venture Rewards card from the Capital One website could be offered a minimum APR as high as 19.74 percent, which is five points higher than the lowest APR that’s being shown to other applicants. 

In exchange for higher rates, it appears some applicants who are being shown the higher rate offers are also being granted juicier bonuses. Venture card applicants who apply for a card offer with a 19.74 percent minimum APR and a 27.74 percent maximum are being rewarded with a 75,000-mile bonus offer if they charge $5,000 within the card’s first three months. By contrast, Venture card applicants who are shown the much lower rate are only offered 50,000 bonus miles. 

Click around before you settle on a card offer

The shift in credit card offers underscores just how important it may be for cardholders to click around and visit different websites before settling on an offer. 

Some issuers have become much more aggressive in recent years about offering different terms to different computer users. As a result, you may be able to access a more favorable offer simply by clearing your cookies or visiting the same website with your browser in private mode. Or, you may see a better deal on a third-party website, such as CreditCards.com, than what’s currently being offered on an issuer’s site. 

As issuers continue to shift more of their advertising dollars to online offers, consumers could see a significant increase in offers that vary dramatically from one another, depending on how and where you access them. 

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report

  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 17.14% 17.14%
16.73%
Low interest 14.23%
14.23% 13.58%
Cash back 17.21%
17.21%
16.99%
Balance transfer 16.32%
16.32%
15.96%
Business 14.78%
14.78%
14.34%
Student 17.20%
17.20%
16.26%
Airline 17.12%
17.12%
16.66%
Rewards 17.13%
17.13%
16.81%
Instant approval 19.83%
19.83%
19.05%
Bad credit 24.34%
24.34%
23.77%
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: Nov. 21, 2018


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Updated: 12-19-2018