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Average Credit Card Interest Rate in America Today

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The average credit card interest rate in America today is 21.59% — the highest since LendingTree began tracking rates monthly in 2019.

Every month, LendingTree reviews about 200 of the most popular credit cards in the U.S. — from more than 50 issuers — to comprehensively look at the state of credit card interest rates. We publish our findings here.

In this post

What’s the average interest rate on new credit card offers?

The average APR offered with a new credit card today is 21.59%, up from 21.40% last month.

Average interest rates on new credit card offers in the U.S. in September 2022

CategoryMinimum APRMaximum APRAveragePrevious month
Average APR for all new card offers18.04%25.14%21.59%21.40%
0% balance transfer cards15.94%25.10%20.52%20.23%
No-annual-fee cards17.52%25.02%21.27%21.06%
Rewards cards17.78%25.05%21.42%21.25%
Cash back cards17.97%24.81%21.39%21.17%
Travel rewards cards17.87%25.58%21.73%21.62%
Airline credit cards18.28%26.52%22.40%22.31%
Hotel credit cards17.26%26.55%21.91%21.91%
Low-interest credit cards13.10%22.14%17.62%17.19%
Grocery rewards cards17.84%25.51%21.68%21.53%
Gas rewards cards18.09%25.38%21.74%21.51%
Dining rewards cards17.86%25.60%21.73%21.57%
Student credit cards18.31%23.74%21.03%20.47%
Secured credit cards23.41%23.41%23.41%23.43%

The increase from 21.40% in August was the smallest since April — the last month (before August) in which the Federal Reserve didn’t meet to raise rates. The Fed last announced an interest rate hike in July, following earlier ones in March, May and June. With three more meetings scheduled before the end of the year — including one on Sept. 20 and 21 — interest rates are virtually certain to keep rising.

Important: Most credit card issuers don’t offer one rate to everyone. Issuers offer a range of possible rates based on whether you have good or bad credit. The better your credit, the lower the rate you can typically expect. But that’s not guaranteed as issuers consider various factors when approving you for a new card account.

If you have really good credit now, the average APR you can expect to be offered is 18.04%. If you have really crummy credit, the average APR offered is 25.14%. That’s a big difference.

The good news is that the average FICO Score of Americans in 2021 was 714, according to Experian — a record-high. That means most Americans may be more likely to qualify for that lower interest rate. For those who don’t, however, things get expensive in a hurry.

For example:

  • Say you owe $5,000 on a card and pay $250 a month.
  • With a rate of 25.14%, you’ll pay $1,391 in interest and take 26 months to pay it off.
  • Lower the rate to 18.04% and you’ll pay just $895 in interest and take 24 months to pay it off.

That’s a savings of $496 in interest and two months in payoff time. In normal times, given that most Americans’ financial margin for error is tiny, that’s a big deal. However, these aren’t normal times, so those savings are even more important.

The type of card you shop for also makes a difference in what APR to expect. For example, we found that cash back cards and 0% balance transfer cards tend to have lower APRs than travel rewards cards. (That’s true even when you exclude the 0% offer.) Meanwhile, secured credit cards — which require a deposit to open and are typically held by folks new to credit or rebuilding it — have the highest APRs overall.

What’s the average interest rate on current credit card accounts?

Average interest rate on current credit card accounts

CategoryAverage APR
All credit card accounts15.13%
Accounts assessed interest16.65%

Each quarter, the Federal Reserve releases data on cards currently in Americans’ wallets. It looks at the average interest rate for accounts that have been assessed interest — meaning those accounts that weren’t paid in full at the end of the month — and across all credit card accounts.

It’s important to distinguish between them because more than half of active credit cardholders carry a balance. The average APR for all accounts in the second quarter of 2022 was 15.13%. That’s a significant increase from the previous quarter, when the average stood at 14.56%. Meanwhile, the average for accounts accruing interest is far higher at 16.65%.

The latter number is the one that matters, though. After all, a credit card interest rate is a moot point if you pay your bill every month since interest never has the chance to accrue. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for most Americans.

While 16.65% is an increase from the previous quarter’s 16.17%, it’s about half a percentage point lower than in mid-2021. In the third quarter of 2021, the rate was 17.13% — the highest since the second quarter of 2019 (when it was 17.14%) and the second-highest since the Fed began tracking these rates in 1994. In the fourth quarter of 2021, that rate fell to 16.44% before falling again to 16.17% in the first quarter of 2022.

How have credit card interest rates changed over the years?

In recent years, we’ve seen significant movement in interest rates, largely driven by the Federal Reserve. Rates rose significantly beginning in 2015 and continued to do so until 2019. The following year, the Fed dramatically lowered interest rates in response to the economic turmoil seen at the beginning of the pandemic. This year, however, the Fed has reversed course, raising rates multiple times, with the promise of several more significant hikes to come.

Before 2015, credit card rates were largely stable for several years, following the introduction of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, better known as the Credit CARD Act. The pro-consumer law, signed by former President Barack Obama, brought enormous change to the credit card space. It set limits on when issuers could raise cardholders’ rates, changed how payments must be applied to balances, restricted certain fees and much more. Those changes forced issuers to scramble to figure out how to recoup the revenues lost under the CARD Act. As a result, credit card rates became volatile for several years — one card even famously featured a 79.90% APR for a short time — as banks determined what the market could bear.

Ultimately, all the changes led to overall higher credit card interest rates but relative stability, even as the nation emerged from the Great Recession. That stability lasted until the Fed began raising rates in 2015. Those hikes helped push rates to the high levels we see today.

What can I do if my interest rate is too high?

These are certainly unusual times. Credit card interest rates are climbing, thanks to recent rate increases from the Federal Reserve, and are likely to continue to do so for several more months. That means it’s perhaps more important than ever that you start knocking down your credit card debt in a big way. Obviously, if the pandemic has upended your financial life, that may not be possible. However, if you still consider yourself healthy financially, one of the best things you can do is pay down your debt to free up more cash for a rainy day fund.

You also have more power over your credit card’s APR than you realize. Here are two concrete steps you can take that can significantly impact your credit card’s interest rates.

  • Get a 0% balance transfer credit card: It may seem counterintuitive to fight credit card debt by getting another credit card, but 0% offers can be a godsend, and banks are eager to lend. Many cards offer 0% introductory periods of 12 to 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, with some even offering 18 to 21 months. If you’re knee-deep in card debt, a yearlong reprieve from interest on a transferred balance can make a huge difference. Make sure that you understand all the fees, deadlines and rules associated with the card before applying. These cards were hard to come by in the early days of the pandemic. Banks weren’t eager to take on transferred balances when so many people were out of work or struggling financially. They saw it as too risky. However, banks’ appetite for these cards has returned in a big way, so there are plenty of offers to choose from when shopping around.
  • Ask your issuer for a lower rate:  An April 2022 LendingTree survey found that 70% of cardholders who asked to lower their credit card’s APR were successful. The average reduction was nearly 7 percentage points. That’s a big deal! The problem is that just 15% of cardholders asked. The best way to go about it is to find credit card offers that you would qualify for at sites like LendingTree or in your snail mail, and use those to frame your negotiations. Say something like, “I love my card, but it has a 24.00% APR and I’ve just been offered a card with an 18.00% APR. Will you match it?” There’s a good chance that they’ll work with you. Just know that you’ll have to make that call and ask for it. They likely won’t come to you.

Methodology

For new credit card offer APRs, LendingTree examined the online terms and conditions for about 200 credit cards from more than 50 issuers, including banks and credit unions. To gather the data, we noted the standard purchase APRs listed for each card on each issuer’s or retailer’s website. (Introductory or promotional rates aren’t included in our averages.)

For current credit card account APRs, we used data from the latest G.19 consumer credit report from the Federal Reserve.

 

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