Average Credit Card Interest Rates (APR) - December, 2018

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We examined the universe of credit cards to get a sense of what credit card interest rates are among different card types. Use this as a guide to understanding what typical interest rates for card are, and how your existing or potential APR compares to the larger population. If you're carrying a balance on your card, consider what you might do to lower your interest payments in the long run using our data.

Average Credit Card Purchase Interest Rate (APR): By Card Type

The average credit card interest rate varies significantly depending on the type of card you're looking at. Rewards credit cards will generally have a higher average APR as a group to make up for the additional benefits that these cards provide. Most credit cards have a range of offer APRs that will depend on your credit worthiness, so we also look at the low and high ranges of cards.

Card Type

Travel Rewards Cards15.62%19.24%15.99%
Business Credit Cards13.12%19.87%15.37%
Cash Back Credit Cards13.24%22.99%20.90%
Student Credit Cards13.99%22.62%19.80%

The Lower end of the APR range is generally for those consumers with excellent credit and would get the most competitive interest rates, while the higher end interest rate range would be for consumers on the bottom end of eligible credit scores.

Current Credit Card Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve collects information on the current interest rates of credit card plans issued to American consumers by all commercial banks - this includes data from non-reward and retail credit card accounts. These numbers are reported in two segments: total interest rates across all accounts, and the interest of accounts that have accrued interest.


Average Interest Rate On All AccountsAverage Interest Rate On Interest-Bearing Accounts

*The most current credit card interest rate information is extrapolated from partial data spanning up to November 2015.

If these results are graphed over time, one can see that over the last decade credit card APR has been relatively stable. Small fluctuations of a few percentage points occurred right before and after the 2009 recession. However, the average has fluctuated between 12% and 16% since 2005.

A line graph showing the historic credit card interest rates.

Average Intro APR Duration

Many of the card offers you will see from the different card companies will come with an introductory APR offer, usually 0% on either balance transfers or purchases for a period of a few months to sometimes over a year. For cards that offered an introductory APR, the average length of the offer was 10.67 months.

Average Credit Card Penalty Interest Rates (APR)

The penalty rate, also called the default rate, is the rate you'll pay on your card when if you fail to make on time payments. This penalty rate is often significantly higher than the rate initially offered on your credit card. With the introduction of the CARD act, companies are allowed to rise your APR only after you are 30 days late on your payments. Depending on your credit card company, a number of other factors may cause you to incur the penalty rates as well, including but not limited to: exceeding your credit limit, or defaulting on another account with the same issuer.

In our survey of credit cards the penalty APR is generally dependent upon the card issuer. The maximum allowable interest rate on any credit card is 29.99%

CompanyPenalty Interest Rate (%)
American Express27.24
Capital One29.4

As you can see from this data, the penalty / default rates are at the minimum 7-8% higher than the worst rates you would normally see on your credit cards. If you have an excellent credit profile the rates can be almost 20% higher than the rate you were originally offered on your card. It's no surprise that the best advice for your credit card is to pay it on time.


Federal Reserve G19 Report

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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