Average Credit Card Rates – March 2018

average-card-rates225The current average credit card rate for the overall market is 19.97%, an all-time high in our survey (which began in April of 2014).

On the upside, this average rate held steady from last month, when the new record was first set. Over the past several months we’ve seen major credit card companies raising rates to match the most recent Federal Reserve rate hike, but also general rate increases unrelated to these Fed hikes. (Most credit cards have a variable rate that moves up and down in line with Federal interest rates, but issuers can re-price their rate structures for new customers at any time.)

The current 19.97% average rate includes both bank credit cards and retail credit cards, and it reflects the average for new card applications, not the rates being paid by current customers on older cards. See below for further breakdowns of rate averages by category.

Comparing current rates to the past, the average credit card rate at this time last year was 19.07%, almost a full point lower than today’s average. Going back two years, the average rate in March of 2016 was 18.67%; in March of 2015 it was 17.96%.

Our monthly average rate takes into account a range of mass market cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), as well as the retail store cards that many consumers also hold. Below you’ll find current average rates broken out into several card categories:

  • The average rate for bank credit cards (i.e., removing retail store credit cards from the equation) is 19.07%, no change since last month.
  • The average rate for low interest credit cards with no rewards remains at 17.80% this month. (The average rate in this category in March of last year was 16.67%.) This category has moved up faster than any other over the last year — forgoing rewards does not provide as much interest rate relief as it did in the past.
  • The average rate for rewards credit cards remains at 20.08%. (Last year’s average rate at this time: 19.18%.)
  • The average rate for department store / retail credit cards remains at 23.55%. The retail credit card average at this time last year was 23.08%.
  • In June of 2017 we began tracking average rates on business credit cards. The average interest rate on business credit cards is 17.74%.

Credit Card Catalog computes these averages by tracking a representative pool of credit cards across all segments over time. Credit cards offered by major credit card companies as well as smaller banks are included, though more weight is given to cards issued by the larger banks that make up the vast majority of credit cards in circulation. The averages listed represent what a consumer could expect to see if applying for a new card now, not the rates of existing card accounts issued in the past.

In computing average rates, Credit Card Catalog attempts to account for the multiple rate tiers at which consumers may be approved for many cards. For example, Chase may approve new holders of its Slate credit card at a rate anywhere from 16.24% to 24.99%.

If you would like further information about our rate calculations, or would like commentary on the current rate market for a news story, contact adam@creditcardcatalog.com.