Rate survey: Average card APR remains at record 16.06 percent for second week

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit


The national average APR for new card offers remained above 16 percent Wednesday for the second week in a row, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

Three cards included in the weekly rate report increased rates by a quarter of a percent. However, the changes were too small to affect the national average. As a result, the average card APR remained fixed at 16.06 percent for the second week.

Average rates on new card offers are currently at their highest point since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007. In the 10 years that CreditCards.com has followed rates, the average card APR has mostly stayed below 15.20 percent. In 2015, for example, the average card APR was 14.96 percent.

The Federal Reserve spurred most of this year’s rate changes. It increased its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percent in June, the third time in six months. As a result, most card issuers have increased rates on all or some of their new card offers by the same amount, causing the national average APR to reach record heights.

Rates for current cardholders more stable
Despite higher rates on new credit card offers, most cardholders who have owned the same card for years are paying significantly less to carry a balance.

According to the Fed’s latest report to Congress on the profitability of credit, cardholders who are paying interest to carry over a balance from month to month are paying roughly 14 percent, on average – which is just slightly more than they were paying a few years ago, despite the Fed’s latest rate increases.

In May 2015, for example, the average cardholder with a balance was charged a 13.49 percent interest rate, according to the Fed's G.19 consumer credit report – around half a percentage point less than they were charged in May 2017.

Rates on new card offers, by contrast, have increased by more than a full percentage point since May 2015.

Meanwhile, the average interest rate for all credit cards currently owned by U.S. cardholders – including cards belonging to people who pay off their balances in full each month and aren’t assessed interest – is even less. The Fed estimates that the average U.S. cardholder currently owns a card with an APR that’s closer to 12 percent.

The difference in average rates between new and current cardholders underscores just how high average rates on new card offers have climbed. 

The national average APR published by CreditCards.com only measures the lowest available interest rate on new cards. As a result, many – if not most – new cardholders are being given significantly higher rates when they apply for new cards. For example, the average maximum interest rate among the 100 cards tracked by CreditCards.com is currently 23.14 percent. The average median interest rate is 19.6 percent.

Late payments tick up slightly
As average rates continue to climb, a growing number of consumers are falling behind on their bills. According to the American Bankers Association’s latest delinquency bulletin, late payments on bank-issued credit cards increased in the first quarter of 2017 after dropping in the last three months of 2016.

Despite becoming more common in recent months, late credit card payments are still relatively rare compared to how they used to be. According to the American Bankers Association, the 2017 delinquency rate is well below the 15-year average.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.06% 16.06%
Low interest 12.88%
12.87% 12.16%
Cash back 16.26%
Balance transfer 15.31%
Business 13.87%
Student 15.14%
Airline 15.99%
Reward  16.15%
Instant approval 18.51%
Bad credit 23.43%
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: July 12, 2017

See related: CFPB rule: Consumers should be able to band together and sue, Card issuers' profits slip, Fed report says

Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.

Updated: 02-19-2019