Survey: Average card APR sits tight at record 15.50 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal Finance Writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

The national average APR on new card offers stayed at a record high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the third consecutive week, the national average APR registered at an all-time high of 15.50 percent. As a result, the average APR for the first two months of the year climbed to 15.44 percent -- up from an average of 15.15 percent during the same time last year.

None of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new interest rates.

Average rates rose to record highs this year after the Federal Reserve increased its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percent, causing most card issuers to increase rates by the same amount. Before this year, average rates stayed within rounding distance of 15 percent for over six years.

Consumers continue to pad card balances while savings dwindle
Consumers are having a hard time saving more money than they’re borrowing on their credit cards. According to a new survey from Bankrate, just over half of U.S. consumers – 52 percent – have more emergency savings than credit card debt. Nearly a quarter, by contrast, have more card debt than savings.

According to Bankrate’s latest financial security index, 24 percent of consumers admitted they owed more on their cards than they had saved for a rainy day – up from 22 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, 17 percent said they didn’t have any card debt, but they also didn’t have any emergency savings, making them more likely to turn to credit to fund a sudden, unexpected expense.

According to new research released March 1 by the Commerce Department, the personal savings rate clocked in at just 5.5 percent in January – down from 6.2 percent in 2015 – while consumer spending rose for the 10th straight month.

“Too many Americans haven’t right-sized their savings relative to debt and even those who have made progress still find themselves with an inadequate amount of savings,” said Bankrate’s Greg McBride in a news release.

The Federal Reserve will publish its consumer credit report March 7, and if past trends continue, it will likely report that credit card balances have hit $1 trillion for the first time since January 2009, as the Great Recession was unfolding.

Card balances grew especially quickly in the last three months of 2016. According to the New York Federal Reserve’s latest household debt and credit report, consumers added $32 billion to their credit card balances. Meanwhile, banks rewarded customers by increasing the aggregate credit card limit by 2.3 percent.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.50% 15.50%
15.22%
Low interest 12.36%
12.36% 11.98%
Cash back 15.61%
15.61%
15.32%
Balance transfer 14.76%
14.76%
14.39%
Business 13.41%
13.41%
13.12%
Student 13.67%
13.67%
13.42%
Airline 15.40%
15.40%
15.13%
Reward  15.57%
15.57%
15.30%
Instant approval 18.09%
18.09%
18.04%
Bad credit 23.01%
23.01%
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: March 1, 2017

See related: Banks expect credit card troubles to mount in 2017


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Updated: 11-18-2017