Banks' long holiday from raising rates on credit card offers continued this week, according to CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report.
The average annual percentage rate (APR) stood at 14.99 percent for the fourth straight week. It has held at 14.99 for six of the past seven weeks, decreasing once in early November -- to 14.98 percent -- before moving back up the next week. The last time rates showed comparable stability was late July, when rates stayed at 14.88 percent for four consecutive weeks.
That lack of movement is especially good news during the holiday season. As consumers seek out new plastic to help finance this year's gift buying, any break from the record rates seen earlier this year is welcome.
Though rates may be stabilizing after a streak of record highs last summer, the national APR average is still only 0.01 percent below its all-time peak of 15 percent, set in October.
Rates are also up from this time last year. On Dec. 1, 2010, the national average APR on new card offers stood at 14.74 percent. This year, it's 14.99 percent. And while that may not seem like much, every increase means real money to consumers. For example, a typical cardholder who borrowed $5,000 on a credit card today and paid $150 monthly at today's average APR would have to spend $35 more to pay off the balance than would have been required a year ago.
The national APR average isn't the only category near record highs, though. The national rewards card average is also only 0.01 percent shy of its highest levels since we began tracking rates in 2007.