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Rate Report

Average credit card interest rates: Week of October 14, 2020

Average credit card APR remains below 16% for second week

Summary

For the second week in a row, the average APR on new credit cards is is 15.97%.

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The average credit card interest rate is 15.97%.

The average APR on new credit cards held steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. None of the cards tracked by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates over the last week. As a result, consumers opening a cards are continuing to enjoy relatively low rates compared to recent years.

For example, consumers shopping for a rewards card today are likely to find starting APRs as low as 15.75%, on average. That’s nearly one and a half percentage points below the average rewards card APR in October 2019.

Some rewards cards tracked by CreditCards.com offer even lower APRs these days. For example:

  • 21 rewards cards advertise rates below 13%.
  • 12 cards that offer cash back, miles or points rewards advertise APRs under 12%.
  • Two rewards cards included in the weekly rate report advertise APRs between 9 and 10%.

A year ago, by contrast, the average rewards card advertised a 17.18% APR. Meanwhile, few rewards cards included in CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report advertised APRs below 13%.

Consumers shopping for a low interest credit card are also seeing much lower APRs. For example, the average starting APR for low interest credit cards is 12.77% – more than one and a half percentage points lower than the average APR for low interest cards in October 2019. A year ago, the best APR a consumer could find on a widely available low interest credit card was around 14.32%, on average.

See related: Best rewards cards

The Federal Reserve is largely responsible for this year’s lower rates

Such a sharp drop in rates on new credit cards is relatively unusual. For example, CreditCards.com has been tracking APRs on a representative sample of 100 U.S. credit cards for more than a decade. Most years, average APRs on brand-new cards rise significantly year-over-year. When average rates fall, the declines usually aren’t so dramatic.

In fact, the last time average APRs dropped this sharply, year over year, was in 2008 when the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero. Just as it did this year when the Fed pushed rates to rock bottom, that caused APRs on a wide range of variable rate loans to fall.

Lenders aren’t required to match federal rate changes on new, unopened cards. However, most lenders still choose to lower APRs on new cards by the same amount as the Fed.

As a result, federal rate changes can have a major impact on the APRs that borrowers see when shopping for new cards.

See related: How do credit card APRs work?

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report

Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average15.97%16.00%16.27%
Low interest12.77%12.77%13.01%
Cash back15.85%15.94%16.16%
Balance transfer13.85%13.85%14.11%
Business13.91%13.91%14.07%
Student16.12%16.12%15.87%
Airline15.50%15.50%15.85%
Rewards15.75%15.79%16.06%
Instant approval18.38%18.38%19.01%
Bad credit24.43%24.43%24.62%
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: October 14, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

See related: How to lower your credit card interest rate

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: October 14th, 2020
Business
13.91%
Airline
15.50%
Cash Back
15.85%
Reward
15.75%
Student
16.12%

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