Survey: Average card APR holds steady at 15.18% for 9th week

The average APR on new card offers held still Wednesday despite multiple small rate changes, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the ninth week, the national average APR stayed put at 15.18 percent.

Two cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates. However, the changes were too small to affect the national average.

Together, the changes caused average rates on airline, rewards and business credit cards to increase slightly.

Discover was also active this week. It lengthened the interest-free promotional period on the Discover it credit card from 12 to 14 months.

Reserve card shrinks Chase estimated profits
A super premium credit card with unprecedented rewards and benefits has become so wildly popular that its ultra generous perks have taken a toll on card issuer JPMorgan Chase’s bottom-line, according to multiple reports.

Chase CEO Jamie Dimon admitted Dec. 6 that the popularity of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card will cause the bank to earn roughly $200 to $300 million less in the fourth quarter of 2016, thanks in part to the card’s pricey suite of benefits.

According to Bloomberg News, Dimon addressed the profit gap at a conference for investors. “The card has been doing great,” Dimon was quoted as saying. “Now we have to account for acquisition cost in that business.”

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card costs $450 a year to own, but has become exceptionally popular with a wide range of rewards seekers, thanks to its industry-leading sign-up bonus – worth up to $1,500 or more – and valuable benefits, including a $300 annual travel credit. The super luxe benefits, which essentially pay cardholders to own the card, have inspired a huge number of applications and earned the card numerous plaudits in rewards card circles. But experts have long warned that such generous benefits are unlikely to be sustainable.

Analysts predict it will take J.P. Morgan Chase several years before it stops losing money on the relatively new card, reports Bloomberg. Chase introduced the Chase Sapphire Reserve card in August 2016.

“Lucrative sign-up bonuses give an issuer an opportunity to acquire a large number of customers in a short period of time, though we question whether the type of consumer this attracts leads to a less profitable card product in the long run,” said analysts at Sanford. C. Bernstein & Co. in a research note obtained by Bloomberg.

Several other card issuers have also marketed aggressively to new cardholders by offering exceptionally large bonuses to applicants. According to an October 2016 survey by CreditCards.com, reward card sign-up bonuses top $1,000 in value for six high-end rewards cards. Meanwhile, a number of cards with no annual fees are offering sign-up bonuses worth more than $200 to $300.

“This is probably the best time in the history of the credit card business for sign-up bonuses,” said CreditCards.com Senior Industry Analyst Matt Schulz in a December 2016 interview with Consumer Reports.

Experts who regularly track credit card offers doubt the good times will last. For example, Mintel Comperemedia’s Andrew Davidson have called the super generous card offers an “incentive bubble that is likely to burst.” 

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.18% 15.18%
15.19%
Low interest 12.00%
12.00% 11.96%
Cash back 15.33%
15.33%
15.30%
Balance transfer 14.41%
14.41%
14.39%
Business 13.16%
13.12%
13.12%
Student 13.42%
13.42%
13.42%
Airline 15.15%
15.13%
15.17%
Reward  15.25%
15.24%
15.30%
Instant approval 17.86%
17.86%
18.04%
Bad credit 22.86%
22.86%
22.56%
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: Dec. 7, 2016

See related: Study: 4 in 5 cards offer some purchase protection


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Updated: 11-20-2017