Retail credit cards reach record-high APR of nearly 27%

What you should know before you "swipe" this holiday season.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 1:58 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2022 at 3:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - When you’re tackling your holiday shopping list, it might be tempting to swipe a store credit card to pay for your purchase, but retail credit cards have reached record interest rates that could cost you in the long run.

According to’s annual survey, the average retail credit card APR just hit a record high of 26.72%, up from 24.35% last year. “If they’re giving you 10% off a $100 purchase, it’s just not worth it to save ten bucks and run the risk of going into debt,” said Ted Rossman, an industry analyst for “This is really indicative of the broader theme about the Fed and raising rates. Store cards, though, tend to be some of the worst offenders, in large part because they’re easier to get.”

According to the report, 11 cards had a maximum APR of 30.74%, including Kroger brands Mastercard. More than a dozen store-only credit cards, including Burlington, Wayfair, Big Lots and Kay Jewelers, advertised an APR of 29.99%. Matt Schulz, a credit card analyst at LendingTree, said it’s unlikely retail card APR will soar significantly beyond 30%. “More cards will likely top the 30% plateau in the next month or two as issuers continue to pass along Fed rate increases. However, I suspect that some issuers will resist pushing past the 30% barrier for fear of scaring away customers,” Schulz said.

“If banks are unwilling to continue raising new card APRs past that 30% ceiling, that could hurt the profitability of those cards,” he said. “In order to make up those lost profits, issuers could then look to increase revenue in other areas. That could lead to fee increases, reduction of 0% purchase or balance transfer periods and other moves that may fly a bit more under the radar.” The sky-high interest rates will be costly to borrowers who carry a balance. Rossman use the example of a $1,000 charge.

If you make that purchase on a card with at 29.99% APR and only make minimum payments, it will take you 51 months to pay off the debt, and along the way you will pay an extra $775 in interest. Deferred interest cards could also cost you. “That’s a big potential gotcha,” Rossman said. “A lot of store cards will offer no interest for 12 months. But if the fine print says deferred interest, that means if you don’t pay in full by the time the clock runs out, they can charge you retroactively for all of the interest that would have accumulated, and that can be really significant.”