Survey: Lower Credit Card APRs Available for Responsible Borrowers

Do you have good credit? If so the credit card companies really want your business. And they’re willing to offer you a lower interest rate to get it.

A report published recently by Card Hub, a credit card comparison and research website, found that creditors are offering lower rates these days to well-qualified borrowers.

If you fall into this particular category (meaning you have a credit score of, say, 750 or higher), you can consider yourself lucky. Increased competition within the industry has card issuers scrambling to snap up customers with good credit scores. To attract such customers, they are willing to offer credit card rates (APRs) a few percentage points below the industry average.

So what is the industry average? And what kind of ‘discount’ are good-credit borrowers getting these days? Here are the latest numbers pulled from CreditCards.com and CardHub.com:

  • 15.49% – Average interest rate for all cardholders across all types of credit cards (source: CreditCards.com)
  • 12.79% – Average interest rate for cardholders with excellent credit scores (source: CardHub.com) *

* The 12.79% average comes from Card Hub’s ‘Credit Card Landscape Report’ for the first quarter of 2013. This in-depth report includes a wealth of data and trends from the industry.

The 12.79% average for well-qualified borrowers is 1.69% lower than the same average a few months ago. So creditors are clearly offering better rates these days for well-qualified customers.

So how does the average consumer stack up? Depending on the source, the average credit score in the United States right now is around 690. Experian reports a higher U.S. average, but that’s for their own proprietary ‘VantageScore’ product. A score of 690 is generally not considered ‘excellent’ by creditors, so it would not qualify for the best interest rates available. Most sources put the excellent bar at 750 or higher.

How to Get Excellent Credit

If you want to qualify for the lowest credit card rates available today, you’ll need to have an excellent credit score. We’ve covered that. But how do you achieve this? There are literally thousands of articles and tutorials online that cover this subject. You’ll find one here on the Home Buying Institute. Most of it you’ve heard before: pay your bills on time, don’t max out your credit cards, etc.

Let me share my own experiences in this area. My wife and I recently had our credit scores checked in conjunction with a rental property. The rental agent said they were the highest scores she had seen in a long time. If memory serves, we were both in the 810 to 820 range. This is considered excellent by most creditors. As a result of our scores, we are frequently offered enticingly low credit card rates by mail.

How did we reach this level? Let me start by saying neither of us is a financial genius. But we are detail-oriented and responsible consumers. Over the last 10 years, we have never missed a single mortgage payment (during the years when we were homeowners). We’ve been a few days late on bill payments on occasion, but never more than 30 days late. Beyond 30 days is typically when creditors report you to the credit bureaus.

We also try to maintain a reasonable level of credit card debt, relative to our card limits. This is referred to as your credit utilization ratio. Maxing out your cards is one of the worst things you can do for your credit score. The same goes for late payments, delinquencies and defaults. All of these things will reduce your score, and by extension reduce your chances of qualifying for the best credit card rates available.

Disclaimer: This story contains data provided by third-party sources. All information contained in this article is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. The numbers presented above are merely averages. The credit card rate you receive from a creditor will largely depend on your individual qualifications, such as your credit score. As a general rule, it’s wise to obtain card offers and rate quotes from more than one source. That way, you will have a basis for comparison.