The recent announcement by the Federal Reserve about interest rate hikes could affect your credit card interest rate. If you never carry a balance or take out cash advances, it may not be a big deal for you, but if you do, it’s worth paying attention to the average credit interest rate. Doing so could help you anticipate and potentially budget for increased interest payments.
What Is the Average Credit Card Interest Rate?
The average interest rate for credit cards is 16.44%, according to the most recently available Federal Reserve data released in November 2021. Rates have been steadily increasing in recent years — back in 2017, for example, the average interest rate for credit cards was 14.44%.
Keep in mind, however, that the interest rate for your credit card could be higher or lower than this average depending on factors such as your credit profile given how credit cards work. So what’s a good annual percentage rate (APR) for you may be different from what a good APR for a credit card is for someone else.
Recommended: How Do Credit Cards Work?
Interest Rates by Credit Quality Types
Credit card interest rates, or the APR on a credit card, tend to vary depending on an applicant’s credit score. The average interest rate for credit cards tends to increase for those who have lower credit scores, according to the CFPB’s Consumer Credit Card Market Report.
This is evidenced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Credit Card Market Report . The report measures what’s called an effective interest rate — meaning, the total interest charged to a cardholder at the end of the billing cycle.
|Credit Quality||Effective Interest Rate|
|Deep subprime (a score of 579 or lower)||21.50%|
|Subprime (a score of 580-619)||20.40%|
|Near prime (a score of 620-659)||19.10%|
|Prime (a score of 660-719)||16.80%|
|Super prime (a score of 720 or greater)||12.50%|
What this table shows is that the lower your credit score, the more you will be paying in interest on balances you have on your credit cards (meaning, any amount that remains after you make your credit card minimum payment). Keep in mind that these rates don’t include any fees that may also apply, such as those for balance transfers or late payments, which can further increase the cost of borrowing.
Interest Rates by Credit Card Types
Interest rates may vary depending on the type of credit card you carry. In general, platinum or premium credits have a higher APR — cards with higher interest rates tend to come with better features and benefits.
|Classic credit card||11.94%|
|Platinum credit card||12.76%|
|Rewards credit card||13.23%|
Prime Rate Trend
The prime rate is the interest rate that financial institutions use to set rates for various types of loans, such as credit cards. Most consumer products use the prime rate to determine whether to raise, decrease, or maintain the current interest rate. That’s why for credit cards, you’ll see the rates are variable, meaning they can change depending on the prime rate.
As of March 17, 2022, the prime rate is 3.50%, up 0.25% since March 2020. With the Fed planning more rate hikes, it’s most likely going to go up again in the near future.
Delinquency Rate Trend
Credit card delinquency rates apply to accounts that have outstanding payments or are at least 90 days late in making payments. These rates have fluctuated based on various economic conditions. In many cases, rates are higher in times of financial duress, such as during the financial crisis in 2009, when it was at 6.61%.
As economic conditions rebound or the economy builds itself up, delinquency rates tend to go down, as consumers can afford to make on-time payments. According to the Federal Reserve, the delinquency rate has steadily decreased, dropping to 2.09% in Q2 of 2016 and reaching a low of 1.62% by the end of 2021. This may be due to the pandemic, when consumers were more wary of discretionary spending, or from negotiating payment plans with creditors.
Credit Card Debt Trend
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report on the consumer credit market, credit card debt peaked in 2019 at $926 billion, then fell to $825 billion by the end of 2020. While time will tell what will happen in 2022 and beyond, the trend so far indicates that debt levels have dropped.
This decline could be partially due to the effects of the pandemic. During this time, many consumers received increased unemployment benefits and federal assistance, and federal student loans were suspended. Some of this relief effort could have helped consumers afford to pay down their debt.
Types of Credit Card Interest Rates
Credit cards have more than one type of interest rate. The credit card interest rate that applies may differ depending on how you use your card.
The purchase APR is the interest rate that’s applied to balances from purchases made anywhere that accepts credit card payments. For instance, if you purchase a pair of sneakers using your credit card, you’ll be charged the purchase APR if you carry a balance after the statement due date.
Balance Transfer APR
A balance transfer APR is the interest rate you’ll be charged if you move a balance from one credit card to another. Many issuers offer a low introductory balance transfer APR for a predetermined amount of time.
A penalty APR can kick in if you’re late on your credit card payment. This rate is usually higher than the purchase APR and can be applied towards future purchases as long as your account remains delinquent. This is why it’s always critical to make your credit card payment, even if you’re in the midst of requesting a credit card chargeback, for instance.
Cash Advance APR
A cash advance has its own separate APR that gets triggered when you use your card at an ATM or bank to withdraw cash, or if you use a convenience check from the issuer. The APR tends to be higher than the purchase APR.
An introductory APR is an APR that’s lower than the purchase APR and that applies for a set amount of time. Introductory APRs may apply to purchases, balance transfers, or both.
For instance, you may get a 0% introductory APR for purchases you make for the first 18 months of account opening. After that, your APR will revert to the standard APR. (Note that the end of the introductory APR is completely unrelated to your credit card expiration date.)
Factors That Affect Interest Rate
When you apply for a credit card, you may notice that your interest rate is different from what was advertised by the issuer. That’s because there are several factors that affect your interest rate, which can make it higher or lower than the average credit card interest rate.
Your credit score determines how risky of a borrower you are, so your interest rate could reflect your creditworthiness. Lenders tend to charge higher interest rates for those who have lower scores. Your credit score can also influence whether your credit limit is above or below the average credit card limit.
Credit Card Type
The type of credit card may affect how much you could pay in interest. Different types of credit cards include:
• Travel rewards credit cards
• Student credit cards
• Cash-back rewards credit cards
• Balance transfer cards
Most likely, the more features you get, the higher the interest rate could be. Student credit cards may have lower interest rates, but that may not always be the case. That’s why it’s best to check the APR range of credit cards you’re interested in before submitting an application.
The current average credit card interest rate is 16.44%, according to data from the Federal Reserve. However, your rate could be higher or lower than the average APR for credit cards based on factors such as your creditworthiness and the type of card you’re applying for. Your best bet is to pay off your entire balance each month on your credit card so you don’t have to worry about how high the interest rate for a credit card may be. That way, you can focus on features you’re interested in.
The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1
What is the average credit card interest rate?
The average interest rate for credit cards is 16.44%, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve released in November 2021.
How do you get a low credit card interest rate?
You may be able to get a low credit card interest rate by raising your credit score, as this will encourage lenders to view you as less risky. Otherwise, you can also aim to get a credit card with a low introductory rate, though these offers are generally reserved for those with good credit. Even if the APR is temporary, it could be beneficial depending on your financial goals.
What is a bad APR rate?
A bad APR is generally one that is well above the average credit card interest rate. Some credit cards have APRs as high as 20% or more, for instance. However, what’s a good or bad APR for you will depend on your credit score as well as what type of card you’re applying for.
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1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
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