The average annual percentage rate (APR) for credit cards held steady at 14.95% this week. This is according to the latest weekly rate survey by CreditCards.com, which was published yesterday. Credit card rates have hovered at this level for nine consecutive weeks. In fact, today’s average APR is only 0.05% lower than it was six months ago.
Of course, we all know there are different APRs for different types of credit cards. To make things even more confusing, there are different APRs for different types of transactions on the same card. For instance, you might pay one rate for a regular retail purchase, and a much higher rate for a cash advance.
Stagnation or stability, call it what you will. Credit card rates are simply not moving right now. What does this mean for card shoppers? It means there is probably no point in waiting for rates to drop.
Federal Reserve Keeping Rates Low
The stability in credit card rates we are currently seeing is partly the result of actions taken by the Federal Reserve. In response to ongoing economic challenges in the U.S., Fed officials said they will continue to hold the federal funds rate near 0%. This is the interest rate the Fed charges other banks when lending them money. It has a broad ripple effect across the economy as a whole, affecting credit card rates as well.
As The Economist points out: “If recovery proceeds as the Fed anticipates, its interest-rate target will remain at near zero until at least 2015.”
This partly accounts for the long-term stability we are seeing with credit card rates right now. We expect this stability to continue for the foreseeable future.
Average APRs By Credit Card Type
The average APR mentioned at the start of this article (14.95%) was a national average across all types of credit cards. CreditCards.com also tracks average APRs for individual card types. Here are some highlights from the individual categories:
- Student credit card rates remained steady this week, averaging 13.16%. There has been very little movement in this category for the last few months. (Washington Post story: How student loan debt is dragging down the U.S. economy)
- Balance-transfer credit cards, which typically offer 0% interest on balance transfers, had an average APR of 12.59%. That was down slightly from six months ago, when it averaged 12.62%
- Cash-back credit cards have showed the most movement over the last six months. The average APR in this category dropped from 14.47% last year to 14.13% in the most recent survey.
- The average rate for borrowers with bad credit averaged 23.64% this week, the same level as six months ago. Creditors view these borrowers as a higher risk, since they’ve had trouble repaying their debts in the past. Creditors charge higher rates, and sometimes additional fees, to offset the higher risk.
In other economic news, the Federal Reserve recently stated the U.S. economy grew at a moderate pace in February and March. They partly attribute the growth to strong activity in the housing market and robust auto sales. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.6% last month, down from a recession high of 10% in 2009. Overall, the U.S. economy appears to be taking ‘baby steps’ toward a full and sustained recovery.
Disclaimer: This story contains data from a third-party provider. Credit card rates mentioned in this article are averages. The rate you receive from a creditor may differ from those reported above. Rates are influenced by a variety of individual factors, such as the borrower’s credit score. This story contains predictions and outlooks regarding interest rates and other economic factors. Such statements are matters of opinion and merely represent an educated guess. We make no claims or guarantees about the future of credit card rates, or economic conditions in general.