Rate survey: Average card APR climbs to record high of 15.74 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit


The national average APR for new credit card offers rose to another all-time high this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the first time on record, the average credit card APR climbed to 15.74 percent. Before this year, the highest average APR recorded was 15.29 percent. A year ago, average rates sat at just 15.19 percent.

Chase spurred this week’s rate change by matching the Federal Reserve’s March 2017 rate hike with an identical quarter point increase on Chase cards. Most card issuers, including the country’s largest lenders, have now increased rates by the same amount.

The regional TD Bank also boosted rates by a quarter of a percent, causing the national average APR to increase.

None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com altered promotional rates, such as 0 percent purchase APRs, this week. 

Card issuer targets mobile payments for rewards bonus
Consumers have been slow to adopt mobile payments, but a brand-new rewards card – set to debut May 1 – could cause some consumers to reconsider how they pay for purchases.

The new super premium card from U.S. Bank, dubbed the Altitude Reserve card, awards customers an unprecedented three points for every dollar they spend using a mobile payments app such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay.

The generous points bonus is unusual for a rewards card. Wells Fargo briefly experimented with a sign-up bonus on the Cash Wise Visa that offered 1.8 percent cash back on Android Pay and Apple Pay purchases. But the bonus offer didn’t last long. Most rewards credit cards instead offer bonus points on traditional categories, such as travel, restaurant spending, gas and groceries.

Banking experts speculate that the new U.S. Bank card could help drive up adoption of mobile payments, especially if cardholders change their payment method in order to reap bigger rewards. “This is one of the more aggressive attempts we’ve seen to juice mobile spending through carrots,” Forrester Research’s Peter Wannemacher said in an interview with American Banker. 

If the new Altitude Reserve card is successful, consumers could see other rewards credit cards take a similar approach and award bonus points for mobile spending. But mobile payment proponents still have an uphill battle to climb in persuading more credit card holders to pay by phone rather than stick to their old habit of paying with a plastic card.

According to a March 2017 survey by Pymnts.com, fewer than 5 percent of consumers who currently have a mobile payment application, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay, use it at every opportunity.

Card issuers could have more success targeting millennials. Super premium cards such as the Altitude Reserve card are often targeted at value-conscious millennials who are willing to pay a three-figure annual fee in exchange for hugely valuable rewards. According to an April 2017 survey by the student loan marketplace Lendedu, more than 65 percent of millennials already use some kind of mobile payment application, so they may be more willing to use their phones in exchange for juicier rewards.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.74% 15.72%
Low interest 12.59%
12.57% 12.00%
Cash back 15.79%
Balance transfer 15.02%
Business 13.66%
Student 13.92%
Airline 15.77%
Reward  15.83%
Instant approval 18.25%
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 26, 2017

See related: Young consumers most cautious about online payments

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Updated: 11-14-2018