Rate survey: Average card APR holds steady at 15.18 percent

The average APR on new credit card offers stayed put Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the seventh consecutive week, the national average APR remained at 15.18 percent. 

Most card issuers left interest rates alone this week. Chase floated a single APR on the United Mileage Plus Explorer card. However, not all applicants were offered the same deal. Some online card applicants are currently being offered a flat rate of 16.24 percent for the airline card. Others are being presented with a range of APRs, starting at 16.24 percent and maxing out at 23.24 percent. Issuers frequently test new offers online and show separate rates to different applicants. 

Credit card APRs are currently near record highs. The average APR for 2016, for example, is currently 15.18 percent, which is the highest yearly average CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates in mid-2007.

Store cards are getting pricier
Store credit cards, in particular, have gotten especially expensive this year. According to an October 2016 analysis by CreditCards.com, the average retail credit card, including private label and co-branded cards, carries a 23.84 percent APR – up from 23.43 percent in 2015.  

By comparison, the average APR for subprime credit cards – which are generally offered to consumers with severely damaged credit – clocks in at 22.86 percent.

Many store credit cards – almost half, according to CreditCards.com – even charge rates as high as 25 percent or more.

Retail card issuers are also paring back their offerings and doling out fewer rewards. According to CreditCards.com, for example, 10 major store cards dropped their sign-up bonuses over the past year. Meanwhile, just 13 of the 68 store cards CreditCards.com tracks currently offer promotional APRs.

Despite the higher rates, many retail customers are still opting for new cards, particularly during the holidays. According to a November 2016 analysis by the credit bureau TransUnion, applications for store credit cards often surge during the holiday season.

Online shoppers and deal hunters are especially likely to open a new card just in time for the holidays. According to TransUnion, the percentage of online shoppers who apply for a store card doubles in December. So does the percentage of budget shoppers who open a card at a discount store. Jewelry stores also see a substantial surge in new card openings.

According to TransUnion, these types of stores often lure new customers by pairing deep discounts with new card offers. “Consumers gain more access to retail cards during the holidays and they benefit from strong value propositions – discounts and deals – that motivate them to use their cards,” said TransUnion’s Nidhi Verma in a statement.

TransUnion expects that the number of shoppers who own a retail credit card will grow substantially over the next two years. Already, more than 125 million consumers currently own some type of store credit card.  

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.18% 15.18%
Low interest 12.00%
12.00% 11.96%
Cash back 15.33%
Balance transfer 14.41%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.13%
Reward  15.24%
Instant approval 17.86%
Bad credit 22.86%
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. 23, 2016

See related: Who owns consumer data? CFPB launches inquiry, How Trump’s election may affect credit, consumers

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Updated: 02-19-2019