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What Is the Average Credit Card APR?

Ever find yourself wondering what the average interest rate is on a credit card? Here are the average credit card APRs on different types of credit cards, and for different credit scores.

What Is APR?

First, what is “APR?” APR stands for annual percentage rate. APR is a basic formula that combines the U.S. Prime Rate and the issuing bank’s interest margin to show a cardholder how much they’ll owe if they don’t pay their statement balance in full each month.

The Prime Rate is the interest rate the Federal Reserve charges top clients for borrowing money. The Wall Street Journal publishes this rate, which the Fed updates regularly.

  • Current Prime Rate: 0.25%

Banks then extend credit lines to consumers and attach their own interest rates, known as a margin. Combining these two figures allows people to reach the APR. Take a card like the Green Dot primor® Secured Visa® Gold Card, for example. The primor Gold has a fixed APR, and it’s one of the lowest available. Considering the current Prime Rate (3.25%), you can easily calculate Green Dot’s margin.

Average APR by Credit Score

Those with better credit scores can expect lower interest rates. This statement holds up in almost every aspect, but statistics show that those with average (or fair) credit scores pay higher interest than those with bad credit or no credit. But why?

The reason for the higher APR for fair credit vs. bad credit has to do with the type of interest rates these cards offer. “Bad credit” cards usually have a fixed-rate APR. This static rate means issuers can offer a set rate for a wide range of credit scores at the same time. Those with no credit or a poor credit score often get secured cards. Cards that require a deposit feature a fixed APR.

People with fair credit scores have better access to quality cards. Because of this, they usually receive cards with a variable APR. But, since their credit score is subprime, they still receive worse offers than those with good or excellent credit.

Related Article: Credit Tips: How Long Does It Take to Rebuild Your Credit Score?

Average APR by Card Deposit Type

The difference between unsecured cards and secured cards is similar to the variations by credit score. Better credit scores receive variable interest rates, with better scores getting a lower interest rate. Secured cards typically offer fixed rates, on the other hand. Secured cards also provide collateral, making banks more willing to offer lower rates.

Related Article: What Are the Best Secured Cards for Rebuilding Credit?

Average APR by Card Type

Student cards offer highly competitive APRs because they provide smaller credit limits. Credit unions, on the other hand, provide exceptional value since they are member-owned and operated. Where larger banks use profits to satisfy shareholders through dividends or other investments, credit unions are not-for-profit companies. This status means that profits go directly back to members – providing them with unbeatable APRs.

Average APR by Credit Card Rewards

Rewards credit cards offer higher interest rates versus balance transfer cards or low APR cards. Higher rates are due to the value of the points or miles on offer. Because of the larger APRs, these cards are poor choices for carrying a balance. Without a 0% rate intro offer on purchases or balances, applicants should be wary about carrying a balance. Instead, pay the full statement balance each month and avoid interest building up.

Related Article: The Best Travel Credit Cards for 2020

Different Types of APR

The above figures cover the purchase APR. This figure is the interest rate cardholders pay when they have a statement balance. There are other types of APR, however, including:

Related Article: Paying Off Credit Card Debt During Coronavirus

About: Cory

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident rewards expert, covering all facets of the points game – especially travel, hotels, and airlines. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.