Average credit card rates headed down for most consumers toward the end of 2011. It is difficult to correlate these trends with the underlying prime rate, which is low and still declining, as issuers’ pricing strategies are in constant flux.
Average rates on both consumer rewards and non-rewards credit card offers fell in the second half of December. The drop was particularly steep for non-rewards cards, where the average rate fell 13 points to 14.58 percent. The average rate on consumer rewards credit cards fell 4 points to 17.54 percent, and the overall average for consumer credit cards dropped 6 points to 16.65 percent.
The drop in consumer non-rewards credit card rates was noteworthy not just for its size, but because it brought that category to its lowest level in all of 2011.
Pricing differences for cardholder risk remain significant, although again recent changes are attributable to individual issuer changes rather than market trends.
The difference between the average credit card rate for consumers with good credit and the overall average rate widened to 3.69 percent in the second half of December, after dropping sharply to 3.57 percent in the first half of the month.
This data originates from IndexCreditCards.com surveys of 50 different credit cards, and includes multiple credit-rating tiers, as well as student cards and business cards.