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The average credit card interest rate is 16.05%.
U.S. credit card lenders once again declined to revise APRs on some of the country best-known cards, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report. None of the 100 cards tracked weekly by CreditCards.com advertised new rates. As a result, the average starting APR for brand-new cards remained at 16.05% for the eighth consecutive week.
APRs have remained within rounding distance of 16% for nearly 10 consecutive months
APRs on brand-new credit cards have remained unusually stable for months now. For example, the average new card APR hasnât wavered by more than a quarter of a percentage point since April and it has remained just above 16% since mid-November. Earlier in the year, the average card APR briefly dipped to 15.97%, which is the lowest APR average CreditCards.com has recorded since 2017. But for most of 2020, the average card APR remained above 16%.
Despite their current stability, average APRs are dramatically lower than they were a year ago when the average APR began 2020 at 17.30%.
At that time, even cardholders with excellent credit were likely to be assigned rates as high as 17% or more. Today, by contrast, few general market cards that are marketed to borrowers with the best credit charge such high rates.
Among the 100 cards tracked by CreditCards.com, for example, only one general market card for borrowers with excellent credit currently charges a minimum APR above 16.99%. The Capital One Venture Rewards Card starts APRs at 17.24% and caps them at 24.49%. But most comparable cards charge lower rates.
Among travel rewards cards, for example:
- The Bank of AmericaÂ® Premium RewardsÂ® card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card both start APRs at 15.99%
- The APRs on the high-end Chase Sapphire Reserve card and Citi PrestigeÂ® Card start at 16.99%.
- The minimum APR on the Discover itÂ® Miles card is 11.99% while the APRs on a number of popular airline cards, such as the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Delta SkyMilesÂ® Gold American Express Card and the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard from Barclays, start below 16%.
The average maximum card APR is also significantly lower. For example, the average maximum APR for all 100 cards included in the CreditCards.com rate report is currently 23.55%. The average median APR is 19.8%.
Capital Oneâs decision to leave rates alone last spring leaves it out of step with other issuers
When the Federal Reserve cut federal interest rates by more than a full percentage point last spring, Capital One was the only major, nationwide issuer not to match the central bankâs rate cut on new general market cards. As a result, cardholders with lower scores are less likely than other cardholders these days to secure a significantly lower APR than what they would have been able to get a year ago.
Thatâs because Capital One is one of the leading issuers of cards for borrowers with fair credit. Its line of subprime cards continues to charge the same 26.99% APR the cards advertised for much of last winter.
However, borrowers with lower scores do have more options than they had a year ago if they compare rates with other issuers. For example:
- The Discover itÂ® Secured card and the BankAmericard Secured Credit Card currently offer a 22.99% APR.
- The CitiÂ® Secured MastercardÂ® card starts APRs at 22.49%.
Not all lenders have given borrowers with bad credit a reprieve, though, amid the pandemic. For example, U.S. Bank dramatically hiked the APR on its flagship secured card, pushing the cardâs only APR to 25.99%. As a result, the average APR for all subprime cards tracked by CreditCards.com is the same as it was a year ago: 25.3%.
The average APR for rewards cards, by contrast, has fallen from 17.11% to 15.76%, while the average low interest card APR has tumbled from 14.1% to 12.77%.
See related:Â How do credit card APRs work?
*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.
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: January 20, 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 cardâs 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 youâve been handling credit.
However, even if youâre 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 â and your ability to win a lower rate â is your track record of making on-time payments. Lenders are more likely to trust you with a competitive APR â and other positive terms, such as a big credit limit â if you have a lengthy history of paying your bills on time.
- Keep your balances low.Â Lenders also want to see that you are responsible with your credit and donât overcharge. As a result, credit scores take into account the amount of credit youâre using, compared to how much credit youâve 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 youâve 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 youâve 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 doesnât close it.
- Call your lender. If youâve successfully owned a credit card for a long time, you may be able to convince your lender to lower your interest rate â especially if you have excellent credit. Reach out to your lender and ask if theyâd be willing to negotiate a lower APR.
- Monitor your credit report. Check your credit reports regularly to make sure youâre 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.
Many rewards credit cardsÂ offer the opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus. Even some no-annual-fee credit cards offer them, allowing consumers to maximize cash back or points without paying every year for simply having the card.
The Apple Card only started offering a sign-up bonus in June, when Apple cardholders could earn $50 in Daily Cash after spending $50 at Walgreens. This was followed by offers in September, October and November, most recently including aÂ $75 sign-up bonus after spending $75 at Nike in-store and online via Apple Pay.
And now through Jan. 31, new Apple Card holders can score a slightly lower sign-up bonus. You’ll get $50 in Daily Cash after you spend $50 or more on purchases with Exxon or Mobil.
See related: Apple Card: One year later
How to get the Apple Card sign-up bonus
New Apple Card holders who open an account between Jan. 8 and Jan. 31, 2021 can earn $50 in Appleâs Daily Cash when they spend $50 using Apple Card with Apple Pay (where available) at Exxon and Mobil stations at the pump or at attached convenience stores in the U.S., within 30 days of the account opening. To pay at the pump with Apple Pay, you can use either the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ mobile app or contactless payment.
This month’s sign-up bonus from Apple is lower than its previous offer from Nike, but on par with the older offers from Walgreens and Panera Bread, both of which got you just $50 in Daily Cash back after a matching spend.
You can apply for the Apple Card from the Wallet app on your iPhone.
Should you apply for the Apple Card now?
If you have been considering applying for the Apple Card, it might be a good idea to do so this month, especially if you commute or drive often enough to spend $50 at gas stations in a month. While the card doesnât always come with a sign-up bonus, new cardholders currently have a great chance to earn one.
Besides that, the Apple Card offers 3% cash back on Apple purchases, as well as 3% cash back when you use Apple Pay for Walgreens, Nike and Uber and Uber Eats purchases and at T-Mobile stores. Other Apple Pay purchases will earn you 2% in cash back. When you use the physical card, the cash back rate goes down to 1%.
However, the Apple Card might not make sense for everyone. The earning rate is good on Apple purchases, but if youâre looking for a primary cash back card to add to your wallet, there might be better options.
For example, with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express you can earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. All other purchases will get you 1% in cash back.
Another alternative is the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns you unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase and doesnât have an annual fee. Plus, you only need to spend $500 in the first three months with the card to earn its $200 sign-up bonus.
There are quite a few other cards to look into. Shop around before you decide to take advantage of Appleâs offer. The sign-up bonus alone shouldnât tempt you into signing up for a card that doesnât align with your spending.
See related:Â Apple card credit score requirements and reasons for denial
If youâre an Apple enthusiast and have been looking into the Apple Card for some time, now might be a good time to apply. The new limited-time sign-up offer gives you an opportunity to earn an easy sign-up bonus â something the card doesnât normally have.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, major credit card issuers are offering relief to their customers.
Even though many places around the country are open, the pandemic continues to impact the U.S. economy. Workers are still at risk of being laid off or facing reduced hours or pay.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we want our customers to know we are here to provide assistance should they need it,â Anand Selva, chief executive officer of Citiâs consumer bank, said in a statement in Spring 2020.
At the same time, scammers are now trying to take advantage of coronavirus concerns by sending out fake emails about the virus that are designed to steal consumersâ personal and financial information or to infect their computers with malware.
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Many credit card issuers are allowing customers to opt into financial relief programs online. These programs are a convenient way to access short-term relief. But it could come with a long-term cost as many cardholders will continue to see interest accrue. With the average credit card interest rate sitting at 16.05%, cardholders might find more cost-effective relief through other options.
Here’s what issuers are currently offering:
Cardholders who are having difficulties can get assistance through American Express’s financial hardship program. Eligible cardholders have the option to enroll in a short-term payment plan, which provides relief for 12 months, or a long-term plan, which can provide relief for either 36 or 60 months.
Under both options, you will receive lower interest rates, plus waived late payment fees and annual fees. But you might not have access to certain card benefits and features.
If you enroll in the short-term plan, you might be able to continue putting new purchases on the card but with a reduced spending limit. If you are participating in the long-term plan, you will not be able to use the card.
Amex will report participating cardholders to the credit bureaus as current, assuming they comply with the program’s rules. But the program’s terms do offer some important caveats: Amex will inform the credit bureaus that you are enrolled in a payment assistance program (if you’re in the long-term plan). And under both plans, Amex will report that you have a lower credit limit.
While these factors do not have as much of an impact on your credit score as a delinquent account does, it could still signal to other lenders that you might be having some financial hardship.
Bank of America
Bank of America cardholders who have trouble paying credit card bills can request a credit card payment deferral by calling the number on the back of their card.
To qualify for payment assistance, cardholders must be carrying a balance, according to the website.
Bank of America sent an email to Preferred Rewards members in May 2020 stating that the company had temporarily suspended the annual program review process. Members whose assets dropped below the regular threshold to keep their status would continue to qualify for program benefits. It is unclear if Bank of America is still suspending this program.
Barclays urges credit card account holders to request payment relief online. As of May 4, 2020, the bank is granting payment relief for two statements, but interest will continue to accrue.
âWe understand that this is a time of uncertainty for many people, and we know that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties. Capital One is here to help and we encourage customers who may be impacted to reach out to discuss how we might be of assistance,â the bank said in a statement.
In a March 26, 2020 update, Chairman and CEO Rich Fairbank confirmed that they are offering waived fees and deferred payments on credit cards for some cardholders.
Because each customerâs situation is different, the bank encourages customers to contact it directly. To contact Capital One customer service about an existing account, call (800) 227-4825.
See related: How to clean your credit card
Previously, Chase Bank stated that customers will be able to “delay up to three payments on your personal or business credit card” if needed, with interest continuing to accrue. The website currently does not specify how many payments cardholders can defer.
It also stated that active duty military members who are responding to a disaster might have access to additional benefits. Servicemembers can call the bank for more information.
In a letter to shareholders, the company’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, also promised to not report late payments to the credit bureaus for “up-to-date clients.”
See related: Chase offering limited-time bonus on food delivery for some cardholders
Citi customers who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic might be eligible for assistance. Previously, the bank was waiving payments and late fees for two consecutive billing cycles. However, Citi has ended its pandemic assistance program.
“Due to a significant and steady decline in enrollments, our formal COVID-19 assistance program has concluded and we will focus on providing assistance options to those customers financially affected by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. We continue to closely monitor the situation and will evaluate additional actions to support our customers and communities as needs arise,” a spokesperson for Citi said in an email.
During the bank’s pandemic assistance program, interest continued to accrue, but accounts that were current at the time of enrollment were not be reported as delinquent.
Discover will be extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of COVID-19.
“We encourage them to contact us by calling and are directing them to www.discover.com/coronavirus for phone numbers for each product line and other FAQs,” Discover said in a statement earlier this year. “We also can provide relief through our mobile text app, which connects a customer directly with an agent.”
Discover it Miles cardmembers can also put their miles towards their bill â including their minimum payment.
See related: What to do if you can’t pay your business credit card bill
Apple Card customers can enroll in an assistance program. Previously, cardholders could waive payments without accruing any interest. The website currently doesn’t specify if this is still the case.
Cardholders can defer payments for three billing cycles. Though interest will continue to accrue, enrolled cardholders will not receive late fees, and their accounts will be reported as current, as long as accounts were not delinquent at the time of enrollment.
Synchrony is extending relief to customers experiencing financial hardship. The company’s website previously stated that this could include payment relief for up to three statement cycles, while interest would continue to accrue. The website currently offers no specifics about what the issuer is prepared to offer.
Truist (formerly SunTrust and BB&T)
Previously, Truist offered payment relief assistance to customers with personal and business credit cards, among other products. As of April 14, it was willing to delay payments for up to 90 days. The website currently offers no specifics about what the issuer is prepared to offer.
Previously, impacted cardholders could defer monthly payments for two consecutive billing cycles. The company’s website currently does not specify what assistance cardholders can expect to receive.
See related: Coronavirus stimulus legislation doesnât suspend negative credit reporting
ultimate guide to coronavirus limited-time promotions for more offers designed to help cardholders maximize rewards amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Business credit cards
If you are a small-business owner and cash is not flowing and bills are piling up, the most important thing to do is contact your card issuer.
Some banks are also providing assistance in case you can’t pay your business credit card bill.
Another coronavirus complication: Scams
As consumers wrestle with the impact of the coronavirus, scammers are trying to take advantage of the situation.
In a June 2020 public service announcement, the FBI warned that the increasing use of banking apps could open doors to exploitation.
“With city, state and local governments urging or mandating social distancing, Americans have become more willing to use mobile banking as an alternative to physically visiting branch locations. The FBI expects cyber actors to attempt to exploit new mobile banking customers using a variety of techniques, including app-based banking trojans and fake banking apps,” the PSA warns.
Scammers might also be capitalizing on health and economic uncertainties during this time. In one such scam, cybercriminals are sending emails claiming to contain updates about the coronavirus. But if a consumer clicks on the links, they are redirected to a website that steals their personal information, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
Identity theft in 2020: What you need to know about common techniques
The outbreak of a disease can upset daily life in many ways, and the ripple effects go beyond our physical health. Thankfully, many card issuers are offering relief. If you’re feeling financially vulnerable, contact your credit card issuer and find out what assistance is available. And while data security may seem like a secondary consideration, it’s still important to be vigilant when conducting business or seeking information about the coronavirus online.