Average credit card interest rates have not fallen along with the official RBA cash rate, home loan mortgage rates and many other personal loan rates. Over the last three years, the Reserve Bank of Australia's official cash rate has fallen to just 1.5 per cent. Discounted variable home loan rates are now around 4.4 per cent, so why are many credit card rates still as high as 20 per cent or more?
The new Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe doesn't know the answer to this question. Last week, Mr Lowe told parliament's economics committee: "I wish I knew the answer to that."
For credit card users, the lesson is: You can't rely on your credit card issuer ever giving you a rate cut. If you want to pay less in interest charges and fees, you need to shop around and find a cheaper card. Fortunately there are plenty of low rate, low fee credit cards now on offer.
What are the average credit card interest rates in Australia?
In the last ten years, the average low-rate credit card purchase interest rate has risen from 10.8 per cent to 12.7 per cent. Reserve Bank data shows that the average purchase interest rate on a standard credit card was 17.3 per cent ten years ago. Now the average purchase interest rate on a standard Australian credit card is 19.75 per cent. Platinum and rewards credit cards often have rates that even higher than this.
What are the lowest credit card interest rates in Australia?
There are 162 low rate credit cards now on offer in the Australian market. You can browse the market of low rate credit cards here.
The lowest ongoing credit card purchase interest rate in Australia is 8.99 per cent with up to 55 days interest free. This rate is available from the Bankwest Breeze Mastercard (with an $89 annual fee) and the Community First Credit Union Low Rate Visa ($40 annual fee).
Other good low cost credit card deals to check out
Bank of Melbourne's No Annual Fee Visa credit card has up to 55 days interest free, a purchase interest rate of 1 per cent for the first 12 months and a balance transfer rate of 0 per cent for 12 months. The rate then reverts to the ongoing purchase interest rate of 20.49 per cent.
Westpac's Low Rate Visa credit card has a purchase interest rate of 13.49 per cent after a 12 month intro rate of 1 per cent. There is an annual fee of $59, up to 55 days interest free and a balance transfer rate of 0 per cent for the first 12 months.
You can compare credit cards from all of Australia's major banks and credit unions here.