Most issuers left card offers unchanged this week. Chase significantly boosted the rewards it offers on its line of Southwest cards but left APRs unchanged.
The average credit card interest rate is 16.16%.
Interest rates on brand-new credit cards didn’t budge this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. As a result, the national average credit card interest rate held steady Wednesday at a three-month low for the third consecutive week.
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.
This week, none of the cards included in the weekly rate report advertised new card APRs.Ever since the Federal Reserve pushed benchmark interest rates down to rock bottom last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, credit card issuers have taken an ultra-cautious approach toward pricing new offers.
For example, most cut new card APRs by 1.5 points after the Federal Reserve’s March 2020 rate cuts caused the U.S. prime rate to tumble by the same amount. Since, issuers have left the cards’ new, much lower APRs alone for the rest of the year.
Only a handful of lenders have revised APRs on select cards. Most of the card offers that CreditCards.com tracks weekly are still advertising the same rates they advertised at the end of 2020.
Among the 100 cards tracked weekly by CreditCards.com, for example:
- The overwhelming majority of cards tracked weekly – 81 cards in total – offer a minimum rate under 17%.
- More than half of the cards included in the weekly rate report offer APRs as low as 14.99% or lower.
- A quarter offer rates as low as 12.99%.
- Several offer rates below 11%.
Prior to the pandemic, by contrast, such low rates were exceptionally rare. At the end of February 2020, the average credit card interest rate was 17.35%.
That doesn’t mean issuers are leaving card offers unchanged altogether.
Multiple card issuers have added new perks to credit card offers in recent months and significantly increased the cards’ rewards and benefits – without changing the cards’ APRs. That’s a big change from previous years when lenders often used new card benefits as an opportunity to hike rates.
Chase adds multiple new perks to Southwest Airlines cards
Most recently, Chase revamped its line of Southwest Airlines credit cards and substantially boosted the number of points new cardholders can earn on everyday purchases.
For example, customers who open a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card account can now get 2X points on local transportation costs, such as bus and subway fare, and at-home entertainment purchases, such as cable, internet, phone and streaming bills and 3X points on Southwest purchases.
In addition, Chase added several other perks, such as early-bird check-in, discounts on inflight purchases and other special offers. But Chase left the card’s APR and annual fee unchanged.
Chase also added new perks to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, but didn’t hike those cards’ APRs either. Average credit card interest rates remain the same.
Chase’s decision to significantly increase the rewards it offers on Southwest airline cards without increasing the cards’ pricing echoes a similar decision it made this summer with other travel cards.
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 20, 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.