Average card APR dips to 16.14 percent


Kelly Dilworth

Personal Finance Writer
Specializing in new trends in credit

average credit card interest rate slipped Wednesday for the first time since May,
according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

national average APR declined to 16.14 percent after the APR on a rewards card
was cut by 1 percentage point.

Bank clipped the lowest available APR on the rewards version of its Voice card
from 13.99 to 12.99 percent. It left intact the card’s top rate of 26.99 percent. 

This week
marks the first time in months that a card issuer lowered the APR on a card tracked by CreditCards.com. Issuers rarely trim interest rates
these days. As a result, the average card APR has declined just three times
since Jan. 1.  

American Express nixes signature
requirement at checkout
In an effort to
speed up payments and lower costs for merchants, another card network is
abandoning the signature requirement
at checkout.

Express announced Dec. 11 it will no longer require retailers to
collect customer signatures for large purchases. Previously, cardholders were
required to sign when they spent more than $50.

The change
is intended to help retailers usher customers through checkout lines more
quickly and satisfy those who don’t like waiting for their card charges to
process. American Express says it will
also help cut operating costs for retailers who previously had to store  receipts in a secure location.

“This move will help merchants provide a quicker
checkout experience for more customers by removing potential friction at the
point of sale,” said Merchant Advisory Group’s Laura Townsend in an American
Express news release.

Walmart’s Mike Cook also
weighed in on American Express’ news. “Having to sign a receipt can be
a hassle for customers and is not necessary to prevent fraud at the point of
sale,” said Cook in the release. “We’re pleased American Express has decided to
eliminate its signature requirements, which will promote a more seamless
shopping and checkout experience for our customers.”

Express is the third major card network to announce a switch to signature-less
payments. Discover and Mastercard have also promised to nix the signature
requirement next spring. All three payment networks will stop requiring
signatures in April 2018.

That leaves Visa as the only major card network not to announce a change in
policy. Currently, Visa cardholders have to sign receipts for any
purchase over $25, unless it’s from a discount or grocery store. Cardholders
shopping at a discount or grocery store have to sign a receipt when their
payment tops $50.

want chip-and-PIN
Retailers have long complained about the signature requirement – not just
because it makes the checkout process a little slower.

to the National Retail Federation, many retailers want to require cardholders
to enter a PIN instead. Chip-and-PIN transactions are more typical in other
countries that use chip-based cards, such as in Canada and Europe.

An August
2017 survey of 750 “small brick-and-mortar
retailers” found nearly half think they’d be more protected from fraud if
card networks required consumers to enter a PIN after dipping their chip-based
card in a reader. Just a small fraction – 16 percent – didn’t think PIN
transactions would help.

retailers, such as Home Depot and Walmart, have even sued card networks for forcing
them to use signatures to verify payments rather than PINs.

retailers say that card payments requiring a PIN rather than a signature are
more secure.

CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 16.14% 16.15% 15.83%
Low interest 12.87% 12.89% 12.73%
Cash back 16.40% 16.40% 15.99%
Balance transfer 15.37% 15.38% 15.13%
Business 13.68% 13.68% 13.66%
Student 15.70% 15.70% 14.04%
Airline 16.07% 16.07% 15.77%
Reward  16.24% 16.24% 15.86%
Instant approval 18.60% 18.60% 18.32%
Bad credit 23.46% 23.46% 23.23%
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: Dec. 13, 2017

See related: Historic credit card rates chart, Fed: Card balances surged by $8.3 billion in October

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