The average new card APR held steady Wednesday after falling the previous week to 16.6%.
The average credit card interest rate is 16.16%.
Average credit card interest rates on brand-new credit cards held steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. None of the cards tracked weekly by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. As a result, the national average card APR stayed put at 16.16% for the second week in a row.
Every week, CreditCards.com checks the APRs of a representative sample of 100 U.S. credit cards and compares them to the rates that lenders previously offered.
Average credit card interest rates hold steady for a year
Year-over-year, average credit card interest rates are up slightly from where they were in October 2020. In 2020, the average new card APR registered at 15.97%, which is the lowest APR average CreditCards.com has recorded since mid-2017.
Since then, the national average card APR hardly moved, staying at or below 16.22% in 2021.
As a result, most new cardholders have continued to enjoy much lower rates than they likely would prior to the pandemic.
In February 2020, the average cash back credit card advertised a minimum APR of 17.32%. Meanwhile, the average airline credit card offered a minimum rate of 16.91%. Today, cardholders with the best scores can secure an APR as low as 16.25% on a cash back credit card and a 15.94% APR on an airline card.
Balance transfer cards are also less expensive since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, the average balance transfer card advertised a starting APR of 15.45% in February 2020. Average credit card interest rates for balance transfers then tumbled the following month after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by a point-and-a-half in response to the pandemic, prompting most U.S. credit card issuers to cut rates on new offers by the same amount.
Since then, most issuers have left APRs on balance transfer cards untouched for more than a year and the average balance transfer card APR currently starts at just 14.07%.
Most lenders tracked by CreditCards.com avoided increasing rates since slashing them in the spring of 2020. However, that hasn’t stopped issuers from boosting the rewards offered to new cardholders, nor has it prevented them from lengthening 0% promotional offers.
For example, multiple issuers have introduced new rewards in recent months without increasing rates.
In addition, some issuers sweetened promotional offers by increasing sign-up bonuses and extending 0% APR promotional periods.
Issuers increase 0% APR intro period lengths
Last week, for example, Wells Fargo swapped its no-frills Platinum credit card for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ card, which offers cardholders up to 21 months from account opening (12.99% to 24.99% variable APR thereafter) to carry an interest-free balance. The Platinum card, which is no longer available, capped its 0% promotional period at 18 months.
Meanwhile, Citi has reinstated its popular 21-month 0% balance transfer offer on the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (13.74% to 23.74% variable APR after the intro period) and Citi Simplicity® Card (14.74% to 24.74% variable APR after the intro period). Earlier in the pandemic, Citi had briefly capped the cards’ interest-free balance transfer offer at 18 months. Before Wells Fargo introduced the Reflect card last week, the Diamond Preferred card was known for offering one of the most generous balance transfer promotions on the market.
Some issuers began reintroducing offers pulled in 2020 and updating the cards’ benefits – without increasing the cards’ rates.
In April 2020, Bank of America pulled its signature low rate balance transfer card, the BankAmericard® credit card from its website and temporarily stopped offering it to online applicants. But Bank of America has since reintroduced an enhanced version of the lender’s plain vanilla Mastercard with the same 12.99% minimum APR.
Not all lenders are boosting their interest-free offers, though. For example, prior to the pandemic, American Express also offered a fee-free 0% balance transfer promotion on the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express*. But now the card doesn’t offer a 0% balance transfer rate at all.
*Information about the Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.
CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|Methodology: The national average credit card APR comprises 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: October 13, 2021|
Historic interest rates by card type
Some credit cards charge even higher average credit card interest rates. 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. Since 2007, CreditCards.com has calculated average rates for various credit card categories, including student cards, balance transfer cards, cash back cards and more.
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 age of your oldest credit accounts. However, even if you’re new to credit or are rebuilding your score, there are steps you can take to secure 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. Creditors also want to see that you are responsible for your credit and don’t overcharge. As a result, credit scores consider 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 successfully used 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 issuer doesn’t close it.
- Call your issuers. If you’ve successfully owned a credit card for a long time, you may be able to convince your credit card issuers to lower your interest rate – especially if you have excellent credit. Reach out to your credit card issuer and ask if it’d be willing to negotiate a lower APR.
- Monitor your credit report. Check your credit reports regularly to make sure you’re 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.