One credit union bucks the trend by lowering card APR
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The average card APR climbed to a record high of 16.06 percent. This is the first time since CreditCards.com began tracking rates in mid-2007 that average rates have surpassed 16 percent.
Several issuers drove this week’s rate change. Some lenders, including Bank of America, Capital One, Discover and Barclaycard, hiked card APRs by a quarter of 1 percentage point in response to the Federal Reserve’s June 2017 rate hike. On June 14, the Fed announced it would increase its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, by 0.25 percent. Most major card issuers have since responded by matching the Fed’s rate hike, causing cardholders’ interest rates to slightly increase.
The sporting goods store Cabela’s also increased the minimum APR on its store card by 0.18 percent and hiked the card’s maximum rate by 3.18 percent. Cabela’s fans who apply for a Cabela’s Club Visa card are now offered a range starting at 16.22 percent and maxing out at 25.22 percent.
Issuer responds to Fed hike by cutting rates instead
While most card issuers increased interest rates this week, Navy Federal Credit Union bucked the recent trend toward higher rates by cutting the APR on its Platinum card by 2 percentage points.
Navy Federal Credit Union members who qualify for the credit union’s lowest rate card are now offered a minimum rate of 6.74 percent, down from 8.74 percent The highest APR offered on the card is 18 percent.*
Navy Federal Credit Union also announced last week that it cut the APR on the Go Rewards card to 9.74 percent. The Go Rewards card isn’t included in CreditCards.com’s weekly card survey, though, and so the rate cut didn’t affect the national average.
Navy Federal Credit Union’s Matthew Freeman says the credit union decided to cut rates on two of its cards after observing that many of the credit union’s competitors were hiking rates in response to the Federal Reserve’s June 2017 rate change, causing average credit card interest rates to hit record highs.
“Rates are rising everywhere,” says Freeman, head of credit card products at Navy Federal Credit Union. “This is the third Fed increase that consumers will have to experience in 2017.” The Fed hiked rates in December 2016, causing many card APRs to rise in January and February, and in April 2017.
Nearly every major card issuer has responded to the Federal Reserve changes by increasing rates on all or most of their credit cards. Even Navy Federal increased rates on new card offers by a quarter of a percent in May after the Federal Reserve increased its benchmark interest rate in April.
Freeman says the Fed’s ongoing rate hikes have provided the credit union with a chance to buck convention and march in the opposite direction of most card issuers. “We definitely thought there was an opportunity to separate ourselves,” he says.
Navy Federal Credit Union already offered some of the lowest priced cards around. Now, the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum card is one of the lowest priced cards you can get if you qualify for membership. To own a Navy Federal Credit Union credit card, you must be affiliated with the Armed Forces, Department of Defense, Coast Guard or National Guard, be a veteran or have a family member who’s a Navy Federal Credit Union member.
Credit cards with low interest rates have become increasingly rare. Among the 100 cards included in the CreditCards.com database, just one credit card from a major nationwide issuer that’s available without restrictions, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card, offers a minimum rate below 11 percent. Most big credit card companies offer minimum rates closer to 13 percent or more.
In general, credit cards geared toward military service members and their families typically offer some of the lowest fees and credit card interest rates available on a nationwide card. For example, the PenFed Promise Visa charges a 10.74 percent APR and doesn’t charge any fees. Meanwhile, USAA offers a low rate card with a 7.9 percent minimum APR; but the card’s maximum APR runs as high as 24.90 percent.
|CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|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.)|
|Updated: July 5, 2017|