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The average credit card interest rate was 20.40% in the third quarter of 2022, according to Federal Reserve data.
The type of card and your credit score will affect the interest rate you’ll pay on any balances.
Higher credit scores bring lower interest rates, and reward cards have the highest interest rates.
Read Insider’s guide to the best low-interest and 0% APR credit cards.
The average credit card APR was a whopping 20.40% in November of 2022, according to data from the Federal Reserve. But, your own credit card interest rate is likely to be different.
Credit cards come with a cost of borrowing: An annual percentage rate, or APR. This is the amount you’ll pay for credit. With a credit card, you’ll only pay interest on an unpaid balance after your billing cycle is over. Pay off your card in full each month, and you won’t pay any interest.
However, if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, it can get expensive. It’s not unusual for a card to carry an APR in the 20% range, which means a balance can continue to grow and snowball for each month it stays on your card. According to Experian, the average credit card balance was $5,525 in 2021. However, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported a 15% increase in overall credit card balances in the third quarter of 2022 — the largest increase in 18 years.
Outside of paying off your card, there are a few factors that can influence the rate attached to your card, including your credit score and the type of card you have. Here’s how these factors influence your interest rate.
Interest rates by credit score
Like getting a loan, the interest rate attached to your credit card largely depends on your credit score. Credit scores evaluate your past credit activity on a scale of 300 to 850 based on past borrowing, repayment history, available credit, and your mix of credit accounts.
Lenders use them to evaluate how trustworthy you are as a borrower, and whether they should lend to you, so generally the higher your credit score, the lower your credit card’s interest rate. Those with higher credit scores will also be more likely to qualify for cards with 0% introductory interest rates.
Higher credit scores get lower interest rates
According to data from the most recent CFPB’s Consumer Credit Card Market Report, the average total interest paid by consumers increases with lower credit scores.
The CFPB measures this with an effective interest rate — calculated as the total amount of interest charged per year divided by the total balance at the end of the cycle — to create a metric of how much interest was actually paid by consumers at each credit level. Data from 2020 showed that consumers with the best credit paid the lowest effective interest rates, and vice versa.
Credit score category
Effective interest rate
Deep Subprime (579 or lower)
Subprime (580 – 619)
Near Prime (620 – 659)
Prime (660 – 719)
Super Prime (720 or greater)
Interest rates by type of credit card
Premium credit cards tend to carry a higher APR.
The type of card you have can affect the amount of interest you could pay if you carry a balance. Data from S&P Global shows that for three main types of credit cards, a higher interest rate comes with bigger perks.
Credit card type
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
Classic credit card
Platinum credit card
Rewards credit card
Some of the name-brand rewards cards you may be familiar with may also have higher interest rates. Here are a few favorites, and the interest rates they carry. Remember that credit card companies can change interest rates, and that only people with the best credit scores will qualify for the lowest interest rates.
Interest rates for travel credit cards
Airline and travel credit cards can have higher interest rates than the typical card because they offer valuable rewards if used correctly. These credit cards are good options for anyone who wants to earn perks like miles to book award flights, but doesn’t plan to keep a balance on their card.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) range
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
17.24% to 24.49% variable
15.99% – 22.99% Variable
Interest rates for cash-back cards
Cash-back cards offer the most flexible reward of all: cash. Generally, these cards earn a percentage back of total purchases, up to around 2%. The money can then be applied back to your balance, or even cashed out and put toward other goals.
The interest rates for cash-back credit cards tend to start a little bit lower than rewards credit cards. Here are the interest rates on some of the top-rated cash-back credit cards on the market today.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) range
Citi® Double Cash Card – Regular APR
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
14.99%–23.74% variable APR
12.99% to 23.99% variable APR
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card – Regular APR
Interest rates for student credit cards
Created specifically for college students, these cards are best for young adults who haven’t built much credit yet and can be secured with a cash deposit upfront.
Slightly more forgiving, these student credit cards can be a great way to build credit while still in school, but can have high interest rates. While some borrowers with the best credit scores will see rates around 18%, interest rates could be as high as 29%.
Credit cardAnnual Percentage Rate (APR) range
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card – Regular APR
Interest rates for introductory APR cards
Balance transfer credit cards allow you to consolidate credit card debt onto one card while paying a 0% APR for a promotional period. Cards with an intro 0% APR can also be used to finance large purchases for a short amount of time. Some cards offer an introductory 0% APR on both balance transfers and purchases.
But, these cards won’t be interest-free forever: Rates go up after the introductory period is over. During the introductory period, interest won’t accrue on your balance. If you pay off your card in full by the time the offer is up, it can be a good alternative to a personal loan. After that intro period is over, you’ll pay a fairly typical interest rate.
Here are a few examples of how this works with a few popular cards that offer a 0% intro rate.
Introductory APRPermanent APR
Wells Fargo Reflect® CardWells Fargo Reflect® Card
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – Intro APRBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – Regular APR
Citi Simplicity® Card14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)Citi® Double Cash CardCiti® Double Cash Card
13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum CardU.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Remember: Interest rates only apply to unpaid balances
If you don’t pay your credit card bill in full each month, the interest rate will apply, and add to the total amount you owe. It can get out of hand quickly, and the debt your card accumulates negates any of the rewards you could earn.
Paying your credit card in full means you’ll never have to worry about paying more for your purchases than you need to, and can help you earn rewards to enjoy as well. While credit card interest rates can seem high, they’re non-existent if you pay your account in full each month and use your card responsibly.
How to lower credit card interest
Getting a lower interest rate on your credit card can in many cases be as easy as calling the issuer and asking for a reduction. Credit card interest rates are negotiable. Chances are good that you’ll be able to get a lower rate by simply asking for it if you’ve been consistently making payments on time and have a good credit score.
If you can’t get a reduction in your rate, there are still ways to reduce the amount of interest you pay. Paying off your full balance each month is the surest way, if you have the wherewithal to do so.
Making several payments each month is another strategy to reduce interest costs. If you plan to pay off a certain amount of your credit card debt at the end of the month, but you won’t be able to pay off all of it, splitting that amount into several payments throughout the month reduces your average daily balance and the amount of interest you’re charged.
You can also consider a balance transfer — moving debt from a high-interest account to one with a lower rate. Some balance transfer credit cards are even interest-free for the first 12 to 21 months, which means all your payments will go toward reducing the principal.