The average APR on new credit card offers held steady Wednesday, hovering just above 16% for the second week. The average card APR is now 1.72 percentage points lower than it stood last year when average rates soared to record highs.
The average APR on new credit card offers held steady Wednesday, hovering just above 16% for the second week.
The average card APR is now 1.72 percentage points lower than it stood last year when average rates soared to record highs.
In May 2019, for example, the average card APR rose to 17.73% for the first time on record. It was the closest that average rates on brand-new credit cards had come to 18% since CreditCards.com first began tracking rates in mid-2007.
Later that summer, the average card APR peaked at an all-time record high of 17.8% before sliding in August and September as growing numbers of card issuers reacted to the Federal Reserve’s first rate cut in more than a decade.
When the Federal Reserve revises its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, the prime rate changes by the same amount, prompting lenders to revise APRs on variable rate cards.
Lenders aren’t required to match federal rate changes on new offers, though. So the average APR for new credit card offers doesn’t always change as dramatically as federal interest rates.
The federal funds rate, for example, has fallen by 2.25 percentage points since last summer.
However, the average card APR has fallen by just 1.79 percentage points during the same period – in part because lenders continue to independently raise rates on select cards.
See related: How do credit card APRs work?
Federal rates dropped sharply earlier this spring when the Federal Reserve began cutting rates in March in response to the coronavirus crisis.
In a series of two emergency rate cuts, the Fed slashed rates by a total of 1.5 percentage points within the span of just one month, pushing its benchmark rate to near zero for the first time since 2015. However, the average card APR has only fallen by 1.31 percentage points since February, in part because not all lenders have matched federal rate changes.
Capital One, for example, revised the APRs on three business cards in early April, cutting the cards’ minimum APRs and increasing their highest rates. However, it has so far left the APRs on all of its personal cards unchanged since February.
As a result, Capital One currently advertises some of the highest APRs for personal credit cards on the market. Among the 100 cards included in CreditCards.com’s weekly rate report, for example, just two cards charge a higher APR than Capital One charges people with fair credit. Capital One’s rewards cards for borrowers with excellent credit are also much costlier than similar cards from competing issuers.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo increased the minimum APRs on a number of its credit cards earlier this month after slashing APRs by 1.5 percentage points in the spring. That, too, helped blunt the impact of the Federal Reserve’s rate changes.
Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the APRs, annual fees and promotional terms of 100 U.S. credit cards. Although the average card APR is currently at its lowest point since 2017, it’s still high by historical standards.
Between 2011 and 2016, for example, the average new card APR remained within rounding distance of 15%. Before that, average rates on new card offers were significantly lower. In 2010, for example, the average APR for the year was 14.3%. In 2008, it was 11.54%.
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: May 27, 2020|
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.