Rate survey: Average card APR remains at 15.72% for second week

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

The average APR for new card offers remained unchanged this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the second week in a row, the national average APR remained at 15.72 percent – an all-time record. 

Average rates are currently at their highest point since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007. As a result, the average APR for the year has climbed to 15.52 percent – another record. Before 2017, the highest APR CreditCards.com recorded was 15.29 percent. Meanwhile, the average APR for 2016 was just 15.18 percent.

Most card issuers left interest rates unchanged this week. One airline card, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card, advertised a slightly higher APR in response to the Federal Reserve’s March 2017 quarter-point rate increase. But the change was too small to affect the national average. However, just after this week’s survey was completed, Chase announced increases to the rates on multiple cards. Any changes will be reflected in next week’s survey.

Consumers love rewards, but often don’t use them
Consumers are increasingly turning to card rewards when comparing new card offers. According to 2016 research by card service company TSYS, 59 percent of consumers said they were most intrigued by the type of rewards a credit card offered – up from 52 percent in 2014.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of consumers said they were drawn to a credit card’s brand, TSYS found. Many Discover and American Express cardholders, for example, are loyal to the issuers because of their reputations for consumer-friendly customer service. Nineteen percent of consumers said that higher tech services – such as mobile text alerts or mobile banking options – were more important to them.

As consumers focus on rewards, card issuers are offering increasingly large sign-up bonuses and generous rewards schemes. For example, an October 2016 survey by CreditCards.com identified at least 16 premium card offers advertising sign-up bonuses worth $500 or more. Meanwhile, a growing number of credit cards are offering ample point bonuses or cash back rates worth at least 1.5 to 2 percent cash back.

But despite the generosity of card rewards, many credit card users aren’t taking full advantage of their card’s rewards programs. According to an April 2017 survey by Bankrate, 31 percent of cardholders have never gotten around to cashing in card rewards.

By leaving their rewards alone, card users are essentially leaving money on the table. “Credit card rewards don’t usually gain value over time,” said Bankrate’s Robin Saks Frankel in a news release. “In fact, they’re more likely to lose value as companies require more points or miles for the same perks. Your best move is to cash them in regularly.”

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.72% 15.72%
Low interest 12.57%
12.57% 12.00%
Cash back 15.77%
Balance transfer 14.99%
Business 13.64%
Student 13.92%
Airline 15.74%
Reward  15.81%
Instant approval 18.23%
Bad credit 23.20%
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: April 19, 2017

See related: America’s credit card debt hits $1 trillion

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Updated: 02-19-2019