We researched the credit cards available in the UK to get a sense of what interest rates you might find on different types of cards, such as credit builder, low rate, balance transfer or rewards. By using this guide, you can get an understanding of how your APR compares to the market as a whole. You can also use this information to help understand the cost of carrying a balance on different card types.
Average Interest Rates (APRs) of Credit Cards in the UK
In July 2019, the average credit card interest rate of representative credit card lending to UK households passed 20% for the first time in 20 years (since May 1999).
|Credit card interest rates|
The average credit card interest rate varies not only by credit worthiness of the applicant, but also by type of card. Generally speaking, credit-builder cards have the highest APRs. Because these cards will consider applicants with limited credit history or a poor credit history, the credit card companies charge a higher rate to compensate for the additional risk.
When considering these interest rates, remember that the representative APR is defined as the rate which at least 50% of successful applicants will receive. Applicants with a weaker credit history may receive a (much) higher rate. This is especially noticeable when it comes to credit-builder cards. For example, while the representative APR for the Aqua Start card is 49.9% (variable), some applicants may be given a rate of 59.9% or even 69.9%.
Note: The balance transfer rates discussed in this article are standard rates - that is, the rate that kicks in after any 0% promotional periods have ended (either because the promotional term finished or the promotional terms were violated).
What is a Good Interest Rate (APR) on a Credit Card?
You can tell if your interest rate is "good" if you’ve received a rate close to the representative APR according to credit card type (e.g., credit builder, student, etc.). It is unlikely anyone will receive a better rate than the average representative APR for a certain type of card; but 50% of applicants may receive a higher rate. Therefore, if your rate is near the average APR, you've got just about the lowest rate available.
Looked at another way, you can decide if you’ve been given a good interest rate based on your credit history – depending on whether you have good credit or poor credit - as you can see below.
Is Your Credit Card Interest Rate (APR) Good?
|Card Type||Average Representative APR|
Those with poor credit pay twice as much to carry a balance as those with good credit. So while an individual with a weak credit history might be given a "good" rate near the average representative APR of 36%, this "good" rate is still expensive. Interest on credit cards compounds daily, adding to the cost of carrying a credit card balance. Those paying off as much as they can each month will save money in the long run by reducing interest charges.