Rate survey: Average card APR climbs to record 15.63 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit


The national average APR on new card offers inched closer to 16 percent this week, reaching a record high of 15.63 percent, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

Interest rates are currently at their highest point since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007. Before this year, the highest average APR CreditCards.com recorded was 15.29 percent.

Citibank and Wells Fargo spurred this week’s rate increase by hiking the APRs on most Citi and Wells Fargo credit cards by a quarter of a percent. The banks increased rates in response the Federal Reserve’s quarter-point rate hike on March 15.

So far, American Express, U.S. Bank and several regional banks have also matched the Fed’s rate change. The national average APR is expected to rise again once other major banks, such as Bank of America and Chase, increase rates by the same amount. 

CFPB highlights credit card complaints
Some consumers who dispute unauthorized charges on their credit cards are having a hard time getting those charges resolved.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s latest consumer complaint report, 17 percent of consumers who registered credit card complaints in February 2017 complained about billing disputes with their card companies.

Some consumers said they received “confusing guidance” from their credit card companies after they contacted the company about unauthorized charges on their card accounts. Others charged their card issuers with failing to remove the unauthorized charges on their billing statements, despite promising to do so.

“Some of these consumers stated that the companies rebilled their account for the fraudulent charges that had been previously removed,” said the CFPB.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers have the right to dispute incorrect or fraudulent charges on their credit card statements.

For non-fraud-related billing disputes, cardholders must send in their disputes within 60 days of the bill being mailed; otherwise, they may lose their right to dispute a charge and have it corrected. Meanwhile, card issuers have to respond to a dispute within 30 days and have up to two complete billing cycles – around two months – to resolve it.

According to the CFPB, consumers also complained about confusing – and sometimes contradictory – rewards program information.

“These consumers complained they were unable to take advantage of benefits after meeting the requirements of bonus points programs, miles programs, cash back programs and travel benefits programs,” the CFPB said. “Some of these consumers stated that online account information sometimes contradicted information received from customer service representatives.”

In addition, consumers registered complaints about identity theft issues, problems closing an account, unsatisfactory APRs or late fees, deferred interest credit cards and other account-related complaints.

Each month, the CFPB publishes a snapshot of complaints about consumer lending and banking-related issues and highlights a different financial product. For its March 2017 report, it highlighted credit card complaints, which accounted for 2,299 of the 26,262 complaints the CFPB received in February.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.63% 15.59%
Low interest 12.47%
12.44% 11.98%
Cash back 15.66%
Balance transfer 14.89%
Business 13.49%
Student 13.79%
Airline 15.62%
Reward  15.70%
Instant approval 18.11%
Bad credit 23.17%
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 29, 2017

See related: How fast are Fed rate hikes passed along on cards?, What interest rate increases will cost cardholders

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Updated: 03-23-2019