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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB reports “all-time high” interest rate margins on credit cards

Federal Issues Credit Cards CFPB Interest Rate APR CARD Act Debt Management

Federal Issues

On February 22, the CFPB released a blog post on credit card interest rates stating that the interest rate margins are at an all-time high. According to the Bureau, the margin is the difference between the average APR and the prime rate. The blog post notes that both the average APR and the margin between the average APR and the prime rate have reached record highs. Specifically, the Bureau noted that, over the last 10 years, the average APR on credit cards interest has nearly doubled from 12.9 percent in 2013 to 22.8 percent in 2023. Likewise, the average APR margin has increased from 3.3 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2023. According to the Bureau, this change has been brought on by banks and issuers who have raised their APR margins to increase profits. The CFPB noted that, although the CARD Act of 2009 kept APR margins lower throughout the 2010s, issuers began to increase the APR in 2016. The Bureau intends to take steps to ensure a fair market and to “help consumers avoid debt spirals.”