The average credit card interest rate remains at 17.27%, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
The national average APR for new credit card offers held steady Wednesday after inching higher the previous week for the first time since October.
Every week CreditCards.com evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 U.S. credit card offers. None of the cards included in the weekly rate report modified their terms this week.
As a result, the national average APR remained at its highest point since early November.
Average rates have fallen significantly this year
Year over year, the average card APR continues to be slightly higher than it was in December 2018, when average rates settled at 17.15%.
However, interest rates have dropped significantly since the summer, when they peaked at an all-time record high of 17.80% in July.
The average card APR may fall further in the coming weeks if more lenders match the Federal Reserve’s latest rate change. However, rates are unlikely to fall below 17% any time soon – in part because some issuers are continuing to hike rates on select cards.
Some lenders may still be catching up to the Fed
So far, most major credit card issuers have matched the Federal Reserve’s October rate cut, including Bank of America, Chase, American Express, Discover, Wells Fargo, Citi, U.S. Bank and Barclaycard.
However, not all issuers have responded yet. Capital One, for example, has not cut rates since early October.
If Capital One decides to match the Fed’s rate on new offers, it will almost certainly push rates down.
Although lenders must cut rates on existing variable rate cards when federal interest rates fall, they don’t necessarily have to cut rates on new offers.
Lenders are still independently hiking interest rates
A number of lenders have independently hiked rates on select cards in recent months, which has helped buoy the national average. As a result, the average card APR hasn’t fallen as far this quarter as it might have otherwise.
In October, for example, Capital One increased rates by more than half a percentage point on its line of cards for consumers with average credit.
Meanwhile, Discover recently eliminated the range of possible APRs on its line of student credit cards and replaced the APRs with one flat rate. As a result, the lowest possible variable APR on a Discover student card has climbed from a minimum of 14.49% to a minimum of 19.49%.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union has also tweaked rates in recent weeks. For example, it increased the minimum variable APR on the PenFed Promise Visa Card from 11.74% to 12.49%.
Fed will likely leave rates alone for now
The Fed is meeting again Dec. 11. However, it’s expected to leave rates unchanged this month, rather than trim them further.
Average credit card interest rates this week
|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: December 11, 2019|
Historic interest rates by card type
Some credit cards charge even higher rates, on average. The type of rate you get will depend in part on the category of credit card you own. For example, even the best travel credit cards often charge higher rates than basic, low interest credit cards.
CreditCards.com has been calculating average rates for a wide variety of credit card categories, including student cards, balance transfer cards, cash back cards and more, since 2007.
How to get a low credit card interest rate
Your odds of getting approved for a card’s lowest rate will increase the more you improve your credit score. Some factors that influence your credit card APR will be out of your control, such as the length of time you’ve been handling credit.
However, even if you’re new to credit or are rebuilding your score, there are steps you can take to ensure a lower APR. For example:
- Pay your bills on time. The single most important factor influencing your credit score – and your ability to win a lower rate – is your track record of making on-time payments. Lenders are more likely to trust you with a competitive APR – and other positive terms, such as a big credit limit – if you have a lengthy history of paying your bills on time.
- Keep your balances low. Lenders also want to see that you are responsible with your credit and don’t overcharge. As a result, credit scores take into account the amount of credit you’re using, compared to how much credit you’ve been given. This is known as your credit utilization ratio. Typically, the lower your ratio, the better. For example, personal finance experts often recommend that you keep your balances well below 30% of your total credit limit.
- Build a lengthy and diverse credit history. Lenders also like to see that you’ve been successfully using credit for a long time and have experience with different types of credit, including revolving credit and installment loans. As a result, credit scores, such as the FICO score and VantageScore, factor in the average length of your credit history and the types of loans you’ve handled (which is known as your credit mix). To keep your credit history as long as possible, continue to use your oldest credit card so your lender doesn’t close it.
- Call your lender. If you’ve successfully owned a credit card for a long time, you may be able to convince your lender to lower your interest rate – especially if you have excellent credit. Reach out to your lender and ask if they’d be willing to negotiate a lower APR.
- Monitor your credit report. Check your credit reports regularly to make sure you’re being accurately scored.The last thing you want is for a mistake or unauthorized account to drag down your credit score. You have the right to check your credit reports from each major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once per year for free through AnnualCreditReport.com.