Rate survey: Average card APR sits tight at 16.15 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit


Interest rates on new credit card offers continued to hold steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the 11th time since Sept. 20, the average card APR registered at 16.15 percent. This is the longest stretch of time interest rates have remained unchanged since 2015.

For most of 2017, card APRs have trended steadily upward, thanks in part to ongoing rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. As a result, the national average APR for the year has climbed to 15.87 percent – also an all-time high. One year ago, the average APR for the year was just 15.18 percent. 

None of the cards monitored by the weekly rate report advertised new rates. Issuers also left promotional terms and annual fees alone.

As the holiday season revs up, debt worries loom

The holiday shopping season is in full gear, prompting shoppers across the country to scout stores and online retailers for holiday gifts and deals. But according to a spate of surveys released this month, many shoppers worry about the impact the holiday season could have on their households’ bottom-lines.

A November 2017 poll by SunTrust Bank, for example, found that many consumers feel “pressured” to overspend on holiday gifts because other people expect it. Most shoppers – 69 percent – said they would forgo gift-giving and receiving altogether if they could get away with it. “The holidays are full of joy, celebration and an unmentioned pressure to spend,” said SunTrust’s Brian Nelson Ford in a news release.

Many holiday shoppers try to limit their holiday spending by creating seasonal budgets. A November 2017 survey by CreditCards.com, for example, found that almost half of consumers plan to spend less than $50 on each of their holiday purchases, limiting their overall spending. Meanwhile, just 9 percent of consumers predict they’ll splurge on gifts costing $250 or more, the survey found.

But a November 2017 poll by TD Bank found that a large percentage of holiday budgeters wind up spending more than planned.

According to the TD Bank survey, 52 percent of consumers have mapped out some kind of budget and 80 percent say they’re determined to follow through with it. But the same survey also found that most holiday shoppers – 76 percent – have slipped up in the past and substantially overspent.

In most cases, people say they overspent on gifts for other people. Many people also admit to buying more gifts than they planned and overindulging on food and beverages.

Most consumers – 59 percent – plan to pay off their leftover holiday debt by February, according to the TD Bank survey. But separate research revealed it often takes consumers at least six months to shed accumulated holiday card debt. A November 2017 survey by nonbank mortgage servicer Mr. Cooper found that almost a quarter of consumers – 21 percent – took as much as six months or more to pay off holiday-related credit card purchases. 

In addition, the survey found 46 percent of consumers are heading into the holiday season already in the red. However, most consumers don’t plan to use credit to finance holiday purchases. Just 21 percent of consumers told Mr. Cooper they would use credit cards to pay for their purchases. Three percent planned to take out a personal loan and 2 percent said they’d dip into the equity on their homes.

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% 12.62%
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: Nov. 29, 2017

See related: Historic credit card rates chart, N.Y. Fed: Card delinquencies continue to rise

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Updated: 03-25-2019