Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.

Average Credit Card Interest Rates & Stats – Complete Guide to Credit Card APR

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

295 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3228 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...
& Kellie Jez
Kellie Jez's image

Kellie Jez

Director of Operations & Compliance

6 Published Articles 1178 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 10U.S. States Visited: 20

Kellie’s professional experience has led her to a deep passion for compliance, data reporting, and process improvement. Kellie’s learned the ins and outs of the points and miles world and leads UP’s c...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

Credit cards can be a potent financial tool when used correctly. They allow users to build credit, earn points, and open doors for vacations and rewards that would not be possible without them. However, if credit cards have a dark side, it’s their annual percentage rate—or APR. Unfortunately, if you’re like 40% of credit cardholders,¹ you will probably carry a balance at some point.

APR is a visualization of the annual interest rate consumers must pay for unpaid portions of their monthly credit card bills. It is the price credit card users pay to borrow money from credit card issuers, usually at a much higher rate than other forms of borrowing money, like an auto loan or personal loan.

Knowing your credit card’s APR and ensuring you have the lowest APR is incredibly important. But 40% of Americans who carry a balance on their cards don’t know their credit card’s APR, according to a recent study by CNBC.².

While no credit card APR is necessarily “good” for the consumer, they vary among cards and users. With APR being affected by several factors, including credit card type, credit score, and available promotions, it’s important to research and get a reasonable rate.

Quick Facts and Stats

  • The average APR for new credit card offers was 20.93% as of Q3 2023 and was relatively flat over the previous 6 months. The highest average APR was 20.93%, and the lowest was 20.18%.³
  • The average APR for rewards cards is 13.23%.
  • A typical penalty APR is 29.99%.
  • The average new card APR for subprime credit cards has finally fallen since before the pandemic — 20.2% in August 2023 compared to 25.37% in February 2020.³
  • Borrowers with good to excellent credit have seen APRs increasing 2.58% when comparing Q2 2023 to Q1 2023.
  • Secured credit cards have seen the highest increase in APRs by card type, jumping up 58 basis points in 1 quarter from 21.76% in Q2 2023 to 22.34% in Q3 2023. Business and store card APRs have also seen a significant average increase over the past year.
  • While APRs steadily increased since 2014, the pandemic brought about lower interest rates in 2020. This changed in 2022 as the Federal Reserve raised rates to the highest level in 22 years.
  • Of the U.S. households that carry credit card debt, the average interest charges paid in 2021 were $1,029, down from $1,155 in 2020.
  • According to the Fed, the percentage of people in Q2 2023 who are 30+ days late on their credit card payment (and thus accruing interest) increased from 2.08% to 2.77% in the third quarter of 2023, making it the highest number since 2012.

Why Your Credit Card’s APR Matters

Even if you plan on paying off your credit card in full each month and never carrying a balance, life happens! Being aware of your card’s APR details is important so you can minimize your interest costs.

To start, your Purchase APR is the standard APR that applies when you make purchases. This purchase APR can be either fixed or variable:

  • Fixed APR is locked in when you sign up for your credit card and won’t change except under specific circumstances, such as making a late payment (triggering your penalty APR). Fixed APRs are rare.
  • Variable APR is more common. This APR can change over time and is usually based on a benchmark rate (for example, the prime rate plus 3.5%). When the prime rate increases or decreases, your credit card’s APR will change as well.

Either way, interest payments can be small in the short term, but over the long run, they can add up to significant fees and make it harder to pay down your card. For example:

If you have a $1,000 balance on your card that you pay over 6 months, you’ll spend $13 more in interest with a higher APR:

  • $39 in interest if your card has an 18.49% APR (the median APR if you have an “excellent” credit score)
  • $52 in interest if your card has a 24.74% APR (the median APR if you have a “fair” credit score)

This adds up much quicker if you have a higher balance and/or take longer to pay off the balance. The interest on a $10,000 balance that takes you 3 years to pay off will be $1,033 more with a higher APR:

  • $2,871 in interest if your card has an 18.49% APR (the median APR if you have an “excellent” credit score)
  • $3,904 in interest if your card has a 24.74% APR (the median APR if you have a “fair” credit score)

This shows that it’s always best to be aware of your credit card’s APR and try to get the lowest rate your issuer offers.

Where Do I Find My Card’s APR?

So, where do you find your credit card’s APR? You have a couple of options:

  • Monthly Statement — There will be a section of the statement marked “Interest Charge Calculation” or a similarly worded section near the end of your credit card’s monthly statement.
  • Credit Card Terms and Conditions — It will be located in the Schumer box within your card’s terms and conditions. Even if you didn’t keep your original paperwork, this can normally be found online by searching for your specific card.

Average APR in America

If you haven’t sought out or received a credit card offer in some time, you may have an antiquated understanding of the average credit card APR. To find out whether you’re getting a reasonable APR, we turn to the average APR in the U.S. Over time, credit card interest rates ebb and flow, so it’s important to have a pulse on what the average APR looks like today.

Below is the average APR in the U.S. over the past few years, according to the Federal Reserve:¹⁰

Average APR Over Time 2023
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

In 2016, America’s average APR was 12.35%. In 2020, the average APR in the U.S. rose to 14.71%. That is more than a 2% net increase over 5 years. Interestingly, the average APR in 2020 was slightly lower than in 2019, when it reached 15.05%. Rates have steadily increased from those historic lows following the Fed’s interest rate hikes. Currently, the average APR is 20.93%.³

However, this doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that credit card interest rate if you apply for a card today. Every individual receives a unique APR based on several factors, including the card type and credit score. Let’s dive into some of these contributing factors, starting with the type of card you want.

Average APR by Credit Card Type

The type of credit card you want to qualify for affects the APR offered, with premium cards tending to have higher APRs. According to Business Insider’s data collected from S&P Global, there are 3 major card types: classic, platinum, and rewards. Below are the average APRs for each:

  • Classic Cards: 11.94% APR
  • Platinum Cards: 12.76% APR
  • Rewards Cards: 13.23% APR

However, we can break this down even further. ValuePenguin analyzed terms and conditions for 200 U.S. credit cards and determined their average APRs. Here is its breakdown of average APR by card type:¹¹

APR Averages and Ranges 2023
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Cash-back cards offer a sweet deal with an average APR of 24.12%. On the other end of the spectrum are secured cards, which require a deposit upfront used as collateral in case users default on their payments. With a high average APR of 26.96%, there’s no reason to choose a secured credit card unless bad credit leaves you no other options.

How does your credit card compare? If your APR is significantly higher than these averages, it might be a good time to give your card’s issuer a call to negotiate a lower APR.

Average APR by Credit Score

Speaking of bad credit, the most important metric to consider is your credit score. In fact, card issuers rely heavily on your credit report and credit score when evaluating your risk level and assigning an APR to your credit card offer accordingly. Building up a good credit score will help you secure an APR on the lower end of the range for the card you are considering.

Here is the average APR by credit score according to Investopedia:¹²

Average APR by Credit Score 2023
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Credit score ranges as defined above are based on FICO’s credit score ranges:

  • Excellent — 740 to 850
  • Good — 670 to 739
  • Fair — 580 to 669
  • Bad/No Credit — 350 to 579

If you have bad credit, your average interest rate will likely be 25.07%. Attaining fair credit will decrease that rate slightly from 24.62% to 29.74%. Interestingly, the analysis shows that those with fair credit are actually worse off than those with bad credit. Of course, neither of those credit levels is optimal. You want excellent credit to be eligible for the best APRs — ranging from 20.24% to 25.5% on average.

The outlier here appears to be the bad/no credit field, but keep in mind that most cards offered for people who fall within these credit score ranges are secured cards and/or cards with much lower credit limits. Both of these reduce the risk to the issuer.

Rates as a whole are increasing, but you can qualify for the best available options by improving your credit score.

Average Credit Card Interest Rates by Issuer

Average APR by Issuer 2023
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Each issuer sets the APRs for its credit card products. The issuers all have a slightly different risk-based pricing policy that guides the range of interest rates they advertise and offer to customers.

For example, Discover and Wells Fargo offer cards with a much lower APR than their competitors — both in the lowest APRs and the median APR across all cards. Barclays Bank and American Express have a median that is higher than competitors. These issuers also have cards with the highest APRs offered, right around 30%.

Bottom Line:

Issuer average APRs also tend to factor in credit score since some cards are only available to those with good-to-excellent credit. 

Types of Credit Card Interest Rates

Promotional Rates

Another way to score a low APR is to look for cards that offer promotional rates. These come in various forms, such as 0% interest for an introductory time period or a zero-dollar balance transfer fee. While promotional rates can absolutely help you secure lower interest rates, debt.org cautions that they are liable to decrease your credit score due to increased risk to credit issuers.¹³

If you go for a promotional rate, it’s always best to read the fine print. There will likely be conditions and exclusions to be aware of. You might owe interest on missed payments during the promotional period or immediately owe interest on any balance you carry when the promotional period ends.

What happens when the promotional rate ends? It’s important to know whether you are on a variable or fixed-rate plan and the differences between the 2.

Variable Rates

Variable rates are, just as the name implies, variable. Credit issuers can change them at any time without warning to the cardholder. The rate depends on a few variables.

The issuer will consider several variables, like the Federal Reserve Discount Rate, interest on U.S. Treasury Bills, or the prime rate published by the Wall Street Journal. Then, they will add a margin of percentage points (more for users with bad credit) to develop an APR.

For example, the prime rate is 8.5% as of September 2023. According to debt.org, a card company might add 10 to 12 percentage points for those with good credit and 23 to 26 percentage points for bad credit. That means credit depending, your variable APR would be between 18.5% and 34.5%.

Fixed Rates

Fixed rates, then, are the opposite. Consumers with fixed-rate plans are locked into interest rates unless the card issuer gives a 45-day notice. The cardholder can then opt out of the plan or continue at the newer rate. There are, of course, certain situations where a fixed rate could change, including:

  • Being more than 60 days late with a payment
  • Completing a debt management program
  • Ending a promotional fixed rate

Types of APR

There are several types of APR. Knowing how each factors into different usage scenarios with a credit card can help you manage your interest effectively. Here are the most important APR types to be aware of, according to the Bank of America:¹⁴

Introductory APR

Introductory APR is synonymous with promotional APR, as discussed above. Whether you are getting a balance transfer deal or a lower interest rate, it typically lasts for a specified amount of time before the purchase APR takes its place.

Purchase APR

This standard APR will be applied to all purchases you make with the card. It is typically the rate advertised when you apply or are offered a plan from a card issuer.

Penalty APR

Fail to make the minimum payment on time, and you’ll be charged a penalty APR, a rate even higher than your card’s default. Per the CARD Act, credit card issuers are allowed to raise your APR if you are more than 60 days late on payments during the first year of your account. A typical penalty APR is 29.99%.

Cash Advance APR

Card issuers often charge a different, higher interest rate when you borrow cash using your credit card. There are no grace periods for this.

Hot Tip:

Don’t confuse APR with APY

How To Reduce Your APR

If you already have a credit card with an issuer and you’re hoping to get them to lower your existing APR, you can do a few things to renegotiate a lower rate. Reach out to your credit card issuer directly and ask if they’d be willing to negotiate a lower APR. Here’s some information to have on hand:

  • Show a Positive Payment History — Point out your track record of making on-time payments. Lenders are more likely to give you a lower APR (in addition to other benefits, like a bigger credit limit) if you’re a trustworthy borrower.
  • Show a Change in Credit Score — Maybe you started with good credit but now have excellent credit. This is definitely a reason for an issuer to offer you a lower rate. Just be aware that to confirm your higher credit score, the issuer may need to run a credit check on you again!
  • Be Aware of Competitor Offers — Know what the competition offers and use it to your advantage. Let your credit card company know you’re searching for the best rate, and be armed with the correct information.

If you’re in the market for a new credit card, the best thing you can do is ensure your credit score is as high as possible. To do this, be sure to:

  • Monitor Your Credit ReportCheck your credit reports regularly to ensure you’re accurately scored. You have the right to check your credit reports from each major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free through AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Keep Debt Balances Low —Issuers want to know that you’re not over-extending yourself. Lenders look at the amount of credit you’re using compared to how much credit you’ve been given (also known as your credit utilization). Typically, the lower, the better, but try to keep it below 30%.
  • Show an Impressive Credit History — Lenders like to see that you have a long history with different types of credit, including revolving credit and installment loans. This means the average length of your credit history and the types of loans you’ve handled (known as your credit mix) are significant to lenders.

Final Thoughts

A great deal goes into deciding your personal credit card interest rate, from your credit score to the type of APR applied to the type of credit card you want. Understand the nuances of credit card interest before jumping into the first offer that arrives in your mailbox. Otherwise, you could be in for a rude awakening when your introductory rate expires, and suddenly, you owe 29.99% on that late payment.

If your card has a higher-than-expected interest rate, try to negotiate a lower rate with your issuer.  It’s also important to be aware of other APRs in case you need a balance transfer, miss a payment, or take advantage of an introductory offer on your card.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good APR for a credit card?

According to our research, a good credit card APR is 21% or less. This is typically what a consumer with excellent credit could expect to receive and is based on the rate the Federal Reserve sets.

Is 24.99% APR good?

A 24.99% APR is not particularly good for those with good or excellent credit. However, it is a reasonable rate for credit cards if you have average or below-average credit. Still, you should aim for a lower rate if possible.

What does 26.99% variable APR mean?

This means that after factoring in certain indices like the prime rate or Federal Reserve Discount Rate and then adding margins consistent with your credit, the resulting APR is 26.99%. Because this is a variable plan, it is subject to change without notice.

What APR will I get with a 720 credit score?

Your APR is affected by your credit score, but that is not the only variable to determine it. Whether you have a fixed or variable plan or are applying for a promotional rate will affect your APR, as will the type of card it is. However, people with good credit can expect an average range of 19.29% to 28.49% APR.

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

INSIDERS ONLY: UP PULSE

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse

Get the latest travel tips, crucial news, flight & hotel deal alerts...

Plus — expert strategies to maximize your points & miles by joining our (free) newsletter.

We respect your privacy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. Google's privacy policy  and terms of service  apply.

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse
DMCA.com Protection Status