Survey: Average card APR climbs to record high of 15.50%

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

The national average APR on new card offers climbed to another record high this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The average card APR rose to 15.50 percent – the highest national average has recorded since it began tracking rates in mid-2007 – after Wells Fargo dramatically repriced an offer. 

Wells Fargo increased the minimum APR on the Wells Fargo Rewards card from a low of 12.65 percent to a minimum rate of 17.65 percent. The card’s new minimum rate is substantially higher than the national average APR for rewards cards, which currently clocks in at 15.57 percent.

Citi also modestly increased the APR on one of its rewards cards by half a percentage point, bumping the APR on the Diamond Preferred card to 12.99 percent. Meanwhile, U.S. Bank increased the maximum APR on its Visa Platinum card from 21.49 to 22.49 percent.

Card spending heats up
Consumers are ramping up their spending, according to new research from the New York Federal Reserve, which could lead to heavier card balances. 

According to the New York Fed’s February 2017 U.S. Economy Snapshot, consumer spending expanded at a significantly faster pace in December than it did the previous month – thanks in part to consumers who bought durable goods such as dishwashers and washing machines just before the New Year. Meanwhile, consumer saving rates deteriorated, said the New York Fed, leaving them with fewer resources to pay off their biggest purchases.

The uptick in durable goods spending could indicate people are feeling more confident about their finances and are ready to take on more risks, such as bigger card balances. Consumers typically put off big ticket durable goods purchases – such as new appliances – and curb their credit card spending when feeling financially pinched.

Already, card spending has increased significantly in recent months. According to the Federal Reserve’s latest consumer credit report, card balances expanded by nearly 3 percent in December after climbing by more than 14 percent the previous month.

Meanwhile, the percentage of cardholders who carry a balance also increased, according to the American Bankers Association’s latest Credit Card Market Monitor, indicating that consumers are more willing these days to charge more than they can afford to pay off at the end of the month. The higher share of  revolvers – consumers who carry over a balance from one month to the next – could also mean a larger number of consumers may be struggling to pay off their balances. 

Despite charging more overall, consumers are still keeping their balances relatively low compared to their incomes, said the American Bankers Association, and don’t appear to be sharply overspending. “The financial health of consumers has improved, consumer confidence is high and credit card debt is stable relative to income,” said the trade group’s Jess Sharp in a news release.'s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.50% 15.44%
Low interest 12.36%
12.24% 11.98%
Cash back 15.61%
Balance transfer 14.76%
Business 13.41%
Student 13.67%
Airline 15.40%
Reward  15.57%
Instant approval 18.09%
Bad credit 23.01%
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: Feb. 15, 2017

See related: Study: Card fraud shifts online, Percentage of credit cards with balances rises

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Updated: 03-25-2019