The average APR on new credit card offers held steady Wednesday, settling at 17.30% for the second consecutive week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
Issuers left APRs on all 100 cards monitored by CreditCards.com alone this week. Lenders also left promotional terms and annual fees unchanged.
Every week, CreditCards.com evaluates the terms and conditions of 100 U.S. credit card offers and tracks whether lenders have revised key terms, such as APRs and 0% promotions.
Last week, we recorded several significant offer changes, including a 1-percentage-point rate increase on the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card (only the card’s maximum rate was affected) and a quarter-point rate decrease on U.S. Bank’s line of business credit cards.
In addition, American Express hiked the annual fees on two American Airlines cards included in the weekly rate report: the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card.
Capital One has also been active in recent weeks, boosting the APRs on its line of cards for consumers with average credit by 0.25%.
Meanwhile, other lenders, such as PNC Bank and Credit One, have continued to lower APRs by a quarter of a percentage point in tandem with the Fed’s 2019 rate decrease. When the Federal Reserve revises its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, most lenders match the change by revising APRs on both new and existing cards.
Some lenders are slower than others, though, to tweak online offers. Lenders may also choose to erase the rate changes on new offers shortly after introducing them.
Capital One, for example, cut rates by a quarter of a percentage point in early January. But less than a month later, it increased rates by the same amount on its line of cards for people with average credit.
Lenders are required to match the Fed’s rate changes on variable rate cards that consumers have already opened. However, they are free to set rates as they wish on brand-new credit cards.
APRs remain at near-highs, despite Fed’s cuts
Since the Fed began periodically trimming the federal funds rate last year, the benchmark interest rate has dropped by three quarters of a percentage point. However, the average APR on new credit card offers hasn’t fallen nearly as sharply.
Although most lenders have matched the Fed’s rate changes, several have also hiked APRs on select offers. As a result, average rates have remained near record highs.
The average credit card interest rate is currently just a quarter of a percentage point lower than it was a year ago when the average card APR stood at 17.55%. It is one half of a percentage point lower than it was in July when the Fed first began lowering the federal funds rate.
Average maximum rates also continue to be high. CreditCards.com only considers a card’s lowest available interest rate when calculating the national average. However, most credit cards advertise a wide range of possible APRs, including maximum rates that are often 8-10 percentage points higher than a card’s lowest rate.
As a result, the average maximum card APR is currently 24.54%. The average median card APR – which is closer to what many new cardholders are charged – is 20.92%.
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: February 12, 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.