The average card APR inched up by just a handful of basis points, climbing from 16.12% to 16.15%. But according to CreditCards.com data, this is the first time average rates have hovered above 16.14% since March 2020.
The average credit card interest rate is 16.15%.
The average minimum APR for brand-new cards climbed this week to its highest point in more than a year, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
This week’s rate change was relatively small. The average card APR inched up by just a handful of basis points, climbing from 16.12% to 16.15%. But according to CreditCards.com data, this is the first time average rates have hovered above 16.14% since March 2020.
See related: What is a good APR for a credit card?
Texaco, Chevron hike APRs on co-branded Visa cards
The energy giant Texaco – a subsidiary of Chevron – prompted this week’s rate change after increasing the single APR on the Texaco Techron Advantage Visa card by three percentage points.
Drivers looking for a Texaco gas card can now expect a 29.99% APR, which is one of the highest APRs that CreditCards.com has detected on any credit card.
Until this week, the BP Visa card was one of the priciest gas cards on the market, charging borrowers a 29.99% APR. Now, at least three of the country’s top gas cards charge cardholders who carry a balance a nearly 30% APR. (The Chevron Techron Advantage Visa is identical to the Texaco version and so it received the same rate hike this week.)
Although many gas cards from major providers charge extremely high APRs (with the exception of Costco), most charge significantly lower rates overall. For example:
- The ExxonMobil Smart card currently charges a 26.49% APR.
- The Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard also charges a 26.49% APR.
- The Speedway Speedy Rewards card charges a range of APRs, starting at 21.74% and maxing out at 27.74%.
- The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi charges a variable APR of just 15.24%.
Instead, most cards with APRs that are close to 30% and above are aimed at borrowers with bad credit. For example, the subprime lender First Premier charges a flat 36% APR on its namesake bank card. That’s just 6 points higher than the BP and Texaco/Chevron cards’ interest rates.
For comparison, the BP and Texaco/Chevron Visa card APRs are nearly 14 points higher than the average new card APR. Other subprime cards charge similarly high rates. For example, the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card advertises a variable APR of 19.99% to 29.49%. The Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card charges a 34.99% interest rate.
Many co-branded retail cards also charge notably high card APRs compared to the rates that traditional banks and credit unions charge most cardholders. But in general, they tend to be closer to 25%.
Among the 100 cards included in CreditCards.com’s weekly rate report, for example, just under a fifth of credit cards – 19 total – advertise an APR above 25%:
- Eight of those cards are gas or co-branded retail credit cards.
- Seven are bank cards aimed at borrowers with fair or bad credit.
- Four are general rewards cards that are aimed at a diverse market.
Gas and retail credit cards are typically easier to qualify for than general bank credit cards. But in exchange for wider accessibility and – in many cases – instant approval, they also tend to charge notoriously high rates.
See related: How do credit card APRs work?
CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
|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: April 7, 2021|
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.