Rate survey: Average card APR stays put at 16.41 percent


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Kelly Dilworth

Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

The average
credit card interest rate remained at a record high Wednesday, according to the
CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

evaluated the APRs and promotional terms of 100 of the most popular U.S. credit
cards and found credit card APRs for all 100 cards remained unchanged this
week. Introductory teaser rates were not included in the calculation.

None of
the card issuers monitored by CreditCards.com advertised new interest rates. As
a result, the national average card APR registered at 16.41 percent for the
second straight week.

also left promotional terms, such as interest-free balance transfer offers and
introductory purchase rates, unchanged.

card rates are currently at their highest point since CreditCards.com began
tracking rates in mid-2007. A year ago, the average card APR stood at 15.44
percent. Three years ago, it registered at just 14.89 percent.

national average has climbed steadily over the past few years as the
Federal Reserve gradually increases interest rates. Each time the Federal
Reserve boosts its benchmark interest rate, most U.S. credit cards increase card APRs by the same amount.  

Credit card interest rates are likely to keep rising over time – particularly since issuers
rarely trim interest rates. The average card APR, for example, has declined
just three times over the past year.

Fed: Lenders still depend on consumers
to spot fraud

Credit card
issuers invest a substantial amount of money into detecting and preventing credit
card fraud. But a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis says lenders still need cardholders to monitor their credit
card statements and flag unauthorized payments.

The Fed
surveyed 283 financial institutions around the country and found that credit and
debit card fraud is still a big problem. For
example, 77 percent of credit card issuers lost money to card fraud in 2016; so
did 96 percent of debit card issuers.

Credit and debit cards that allow signatures rather than PINs to authorize
payments are among the most popular targets for thieves, the survey found. 

have stopped many unauthorized transactions from going through by blocking payments
made from high-risk countries. But the Federal Reserve said lenders still
rely heavily on customers to spot unauthorized transactions in order to
mitigate losses.

to the Fed, giving consumers access to their transaction histories so that they
can comb through their payments and spot unauthorized charges is one of the
most effective ways to combat fraud.

cards with EMV chips has also been shown to be effective in curbing certain
types of fraud. EMV-enabled payments made at a store or restaurant are
more technologically secure than payments made by swiping a magnetic stripe.
But now that it’s harder for fraudsters to make unauthorized payments in person,
card thieves increasingly are turning to online and telephone payments that can
be made without a physical card, additional research has found. 

Identity theft is on the rise

According to a report released this month by
Javelin Strategy and Research, identity theft has surged to a record high,
affecting nearly 17 million consumers.

The survey
found credit cards are still a key target for fraudsters; but the
increased prevalence of chip-enabled payments has made in-person fraud less
popular. Instead, the survey found that fraudsters are increasingly finding
success online. Fraudsters are also turning to other payment targets, such as
opening sham PayPal and Amazon accounts.

data breaches have also helped fuel the rise in identity theft, experts say.

“2017 was a runaway year for fraudsters,
and with the amount of valid information they have on consumers, their attacks
are just getting more complex,” said Javelin Strategy and Research’s Al Pascual
in a news release. “Fraudsters are
growing more sophisticated in response to industry’s efforts to implement
better security.”

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.41% 16.41%
Low interest 13.14%
13.14% 12.87%
Cash back 16.67%
Balance transfer 15.63%
Business 13.93%
Student 15.92%
Airline 16.41%
Reward  16.51%
Instant approval 18.82%
Bad credit 23.62%
Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of 100 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category listed above. (Introductory, or teaser, rates are not included in the calculation.)
Source: CreditCards.com
Updated: Feb. 14, 2018

See related: Historical credit card rates chart, US cities with heaviest credit card debt burden: San Antonio leads, San Francisco has least

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