Where To Get Fixed APR Credit Cards in 2014?

Q: I was looking at your list of low APR credit cards and was disappointed to see that all of them have “variable” rates. I don’t want a rate that the bank can switch at the drop of hat. What I’m looking for is a credit card with a fixed APR. Where can I find one?

A: First of all, it’s important to understand what variable rate means. Because guess what? It’s not as bad as you think.

WSJ Prime Rate chart

The chart above shows you the Wall Street Journal’s prime rate, which is the rate at which banks will lend to their most creditworthy customers. It’s calculated by checking with the 10 largest banks and publishing their consensus rate.

What does this have to do with variable rates? Well, practically every variable APR credit card uses it. When the prime rate goes up, the credit card’s rate will go up by an equal amount.

Example: Let’s say you have a credit card that lists a 11.99 percent variable rate:

offer based on variable APR

If you read the fine print underneath this box, you will see that the lowest tier rate (11.99%) is based on a fixed rate of 8.74% + the Prime Rate of 3.25%. Together those equal 11.99%.

But now let’s say the prime rate is increased to 3.5% (0.25% higher). When that happens, they will change your card’s APR to 12.24% (8.74% + 3.5%).

So when you see a credit card application say “variable” APR, all that means is that its APR will vary based on the Prime Rate. It does not mean they will just change your rate at the drop of a hat, unless there is a valid reason to do so (such as having multiple late payments, etc).

 A variable APR probably won’t change much

As you see in the above chart, the prime rate has been stuck at 3.25 percent for a long time. It’s been there for almost 4 years (since December 16, 2008).

And guess what? It’s probably going to stay there for a while.

You see, the prime rate always runs 3 percent above the federal funds rate (currently 0.25%), which is set by the Federal Reserve). The Fed has left the federal funds rate at near zero for more than five years in an effort to stimulate the economy — and newly-sworn-in Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen announced in February 2014 that she planned to leave it there (as long as the unemployment rate stays above 6.5 percent).

Conclusion? Even without fixed APR credit cards, you don’t have to worry much about your variable APR increasing. Because of the Fed, the prime rate will probably stay the same until unemployment drops, and, even after that, it will be a very slow climb up — because of the sensitive economy, they would be foolish to raise rates rapidly.

But where do you find credit cards with a fixed APR?

Fixed APR credit card offers have basically gone the way of the dinosaur. Why? Well blame Uncle Sam for that one. When the CARD Act of 2009 was passed, it brought a lot of good changes, but also unintended consequences.

When it comes to interest rates, as you probably know the new law prohibits issuers from jacking up rates without reason.

From the bank’s perspective, that made it too risky to offer a low fixed APR – because if the prime rate went up, they would not be able to adjust the card to go along with it.

This is why practically every credit card on the market right now is no longer fixed. Instead, they’re tied to the prime rate.

Back a couple years ago there were a few tiny credit unions and regional banks that still offered fixed APR cards, but even they eventually made the switch. So where can you get them? The answer is your can’t. Right now the smartest choice is to apply for a 0 percent credit card.

Updated Feb. 13, 2014.

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

I have 4.5 apr with Capital one Venture . I’ve had the card for at least 15 years

if you’re looking for a decent fixed rate card, forget banks. Credit unions offer better deals because they are mostly local, community oriented lenders. Banks don’t give a hairy rat’s behind about you.

Muhahhaa I got 7.99% with my SimmonsFirst card, and 11.99% cash advance which is lower than nearly all regular cards apr. Have yet to see anything that low. I win. 😛

Thanks for the info Kerby. I have been all over the internet trying to find the lowest rate credit card with the average one being about 12.99%. When I read your post I thought you was pulling my leg, until I actually went to the website and found out what you posted was true. once again thanks for the info, I would have never found a 7.99% credit card without your post!

I’ve had fixed 9.99 on a fleet turned into Bank of America card for 11 years. Anytime I receive an offer in the mail, if it don’t show a rate at least that low, buh bye

Some secured cards offer fixed interest rates. I was just approved for a 9.9% fixed apr from Applied bank, and my credit score is extremely poor (550)!. They also have a 0% fixed apr rate for a secured credit card, though I think you might have to have a decent credit score to get it.

Secured credit cards seem to be the only way to find a fixed apr right now… Hope this helps!

That’s true but with secured cards you’re just borrowing money from yourself. Unfortunately the days of unsecured cards with fixed rates are over 🙁

Who is the author of this article? Michael who with what business

Hi Tony I’m not sure I understand your question. You can click on my name or read the about section. Thanks