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Average Credit Card Interest Rates

Average Credit Card Interest Rates

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We examined about 200 credit cards from more than 50 issuers to get a sense of average credit card interest rates, or average credit card APRs, among card types. You can use this as a guide to see how your existing or potential APRs compare. If you're carrying a credit card balance, consider our data to help figure out how you might lower your interest payments.

Average credit card interest rates by card type

The average credit card APR varies significantly depending on the type of card. For example, rewards credit cards can generally have higher average APRs to make up for additional benefits. Most credit cards have an APR range that will depend on your creditworthiness, so we also focused on low and high figures.

Lower APRs are generally for those consumers with excellent credit scores.

Credit card interest rates: 10-year history

The Federal Reserve collects information on the APRs of credit cards issued to American consumers by commercial banks — this includes data from non-reward and retail credit card accounts. These numbers are reported in two segments: Interest rates across all credit card accounts, and those specifically for interest-bearing accounts.

Over the past decade, credit card APRs have been relatively stable, though small fluctuations of a few percentage points have occurred since 2010.

Credit card APRs over past decade

Average interest rate on all credit card accounts
Average interest rate on interest-bearing accounts

And here’s a fuller look dating back to 2000:

This is a graph of commercial bank interest rates on credit cards

Average penalty APRs on credit cards

The penalty rate, also called the default rate, is the APR you might be charged going forward if you fail to make on-time payments. This penalty rate is often significantly higher than the APR initially offered on your credit card.

Companies — via the CARD Act — are allowed to raise APRs only after you’re 60 days late on your payments during the first year of your account. Depending on your credit card company, a number of other factors may cause you to incur the penalty rates as well, including exceeding your credit limit or defaulting on another account with the same issuer. However, issuers can increase your rate for any reason if your account is older than a year.

In our survey of credit cards, the penalty APR was generally dependent upon the card issuer. There is no federal limit on maximum allowable APRs.

Sample of penalty APRs

Penalty interest rate (%)
CitiUp to 29.99%
ChaseUp to 29.99%
American ExpressPrime rate + 25.99%
Capital One29.40%

The penalty, or default, interest rates are at least five percentage points higher than the worst APRs you’d normally see on credit cards.

If you have an excellent credit profile, penalty APRs can be more than 15 percentage points higher than what you were originally offered on your card. It’s great advice to always pay your credit card bills on time.


These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).