Rate survey: Average card APR remains at record high of 17.14 percent

Kelly Dilworth
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report

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The average APR for new credit card offers stayed put Wednesday, remaining at an all-time record high for the second consecutive week. The national average APR registered at 17.14 percent, which is the highest weekly average CreditCards.com has recorded since it began tracking rates more than a decade ago. 

CreditCards.com evaluated the APRs, annual fees and promotional offers of 100 U.S. credit cards. Most cards included in the weekly average left card offers alone this week. 

The supermarket chain Meijer increased the APR on the Meijer Mastercard by a quarter of a percent in response to the Federal Reserve’s September 2018 rate hike. However, the change was too small to affect the national average. 

Meanwhile, Chase continued to float an interest-free promotional offer on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. But only some computer users were shown the offer.

Issuers frequently test promotional rates by offering a 0 percent APR or interest-free balance transfer to just a fraction of the web visitors who open a credit card application. Others who visited the Chase Sapphire Preferred card web page, for example, were not offered a promotional rate. 

See related: Historic credit card interest rates chart 

Consumers plan to use credit to fuel their holiday shopping

Despite rising credit card interest rates, a growing number of consumers are planning to use credit cards to fund their holiday shopping this year, rather than rely only on debit cards and cash. According to new research from Discover, 38 percent of consumers expect to use credit cards to fund all or most of their gift shopping this season. Last year, only 32 percent of holiday shoppers said the same. 

A desire for rewards – rather than a need to finance new purchases – appears to be fueling cardholders’ choices. Among those planning to rely on credit cards, 54 percent point to rewards as a primary reason for choosing credit rather than cash or debit to pay for their purchases. In 2017, only 42 percent of consumers said they were using credit in order to earn more rewards.

“Rewards are a major driver for our cardmembers,” said Discover’s Laks Vasudevan in a November 14 news release

As credit card issuers compete with one another by offering stronger rewards programs, consumers appear to be taking notice. An August 2018 study by J.D. Power and Associates found nearly half of consumers who switched cards within the past year did so in order to take advantage of “better rewards.” Consumers are also redeeming their rewards at a higher rate, the analytics company found, suggesting they’re increasingly aware of how much they can earn with their cards. 

Consumers’ increasing interest in rewards programs could have a significant effect on how many credit card purchases issuers ring up this holiday. At least a quarter of holiday shoppers already plan to significantly increase how much they spend, Discover found. 

However, some shoppers could have a hard time shedding their balances once the holidays are over. According to a study released Nov. 14 by YouGov, 15 percent of consumers are still trying to get rid of the holiday debt they accumulated last year. 

Among the cardholders who are still carrying around debt from last year, 79 percent plan to spend less this holiday season and avoid a repeat of 2017. A similar number – 76 percent – also plan to use credit cards less often. 

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report

  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 17.14% 17.14%
16.71%
Low interest 14.23%
14.23% 13.53%
Cash back 17.21%
17.21%
16.98%
Balance transfer 16.32%
16.39%
15.93%
Business 14.78%
14.78%
14.34%
Student 17.20%
17.20%
16.14%
Airline 17.12%
17.12%
16.66%
Rewards 17.13%
17.13%
16.81%
Instant approval 19.83%
19.81%
19.05%
Bad credit 24.34%
24.34%
23.77%
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: Nov. 14, 2018


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Updated: 11-14-2018