Credit card Q&A: “What is a good APR for a credit card?”
Everyone always want the best, the lowest, the cheapest, etc. It makes perfect sense. Why settle for less, right?
But what people don’t seem to realize when they ask where to find the best of “x” is that it varies from person to person, from situation to situation.
The best credit card for one consumer may be the worst for another, and so it’s tough to come up with one indisputable answer, especially in the credit realm.
Credit Card APR is Generally Very High
What I can say definitively is that credit card APR is generally very high, if not astronomical, compared to other interest rates, such as those on mortgages and auto loans.
For example, long-term fixed mortgage rates are averaging around 4% at the moment, a historical low to be sure. But this compares to an average rate in the teens for credit card interest rates.
And just last week, interest rates on new credit card offers were at record highs, per the Weekly Credit Card Rates Report from CreditCards.com.
Yep, the national average credit card APR was 14.94% – that’s more than three times the average rate on a mortgage. Ouch.
In short, you pay a lot for the privilege of carrying a credit card balance, which is a major reason why you should never carry one!
For a so-called “low interest” credit card, the average APR was 10.73%, still sky-high in the grand scheme of things.
Even balance transfer credit cards had an average APR of 12.73%, which surely doesn’t make a lot of sense when there are plenty of promotional 0% APR balance transfer credit cards out there for the taking. And even no fee balance transfer credit cards.
Take a look at the full range of credit card APR to get a better idea as to what to expect and to determine where your card stands.
Regardless of these numbers, my general recommendation has always been to avoid carrying a credit card balance, largely because of these very interest rates.
They’re absurdly high, and should be avoided at all, ahem, costs.
How Can You Avoid It?
The simplest way to avoid paying interest on your credit card debt is to pay it off in full each month.
After all, if you don’t carry a balance, you won’t pay interest, so it really doesn’t matter if the interest rate is 0% or 30%.
Pretty basic, right? Well, not all of us have the money to pay off our credit card balance in full, especially after spending beyond our means.
Fortunately, there is another pretty straightforward method to avoid paying costly interest: a credit card balance transfer.
If you’ve gotten yourself into credit card debt, a 0% APR balance transfer will allow you to move your high-APR debt (see table above) to a 0% APR credit card for as long as 21 months.
During that time, you can pay off the debt without having to worry about finance charges increasing your balance and pushing you further down the debt spiral.
Let’s face it. Carrying a credit card balance is a losing endeavor, unless you’re paying 0% APR. Any other rate will probably be in the teens or higher, which is certainly far from ideal.
So focus more on dealing with your credit card debt as opposed to the APR.
Read more: What credit card has the lowest interest rate?