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The consequences of carrying a balance on your credit card have never been costlier.

Average annual percentage rates, or APRs, on credit cards have hit a record high, according to a new study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In 2023, average credit card APRs reached nearly 23% — the highest on record since the U.S. Federal Reserve began collecting the data in 1994.

Each month, credit card issuers generally charge these interest fees on any remaining balance after the statement cycle ends. Fed data shows that before the pandemic, average APRs were about 17%, and a decade ago they were around 13%. In other words, over the past 10 years, interest rates on credit cards have skyrocketed 10 percentage points.

CFPB researchers say the excessively high APRs are costing the typical American — with a credit card balance of $5,300 — over $250 a year.

What’s more, the CFPB’s analysis found that the increase in APRs has little-to-no relation to the funding costs associated with offering the cards, spurring consumer advocates to cry foul.

“Credit card companies aren’t just covering their costs,” Adam Rust, director of financial services at the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, said in a statement. “They are applying an additional ‘greedflation charge.’”

The growing APRs aren’t only affecting people with average or low credit scores, either. The CFPB says everyone is getting hit with higher interest rates.

“Even consumers with the highest credit scores are incurring higher costs,” the researchers wrote.

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Why are credit card APRs so high?

Given that the Federal Reserve has hiked benchmark interest rates to the highest levels in over two decades, it should come as no surprise that loans and mortgages have gotten more expensive across the board. It’s understandable that credit card APRs have increased too.

The CFPB’s analysis, however, took this into account. And the results show that credit card companies cannot simply lay the blame for record-high APRs at the feet of the Federal Reserve.

To determine this, the CFPB looked at what’s called the “APR margin.” This measure takes into account today’s higher-than-normal benchmark rates — plus other operating costs associated with credit card lending. In effect, combining these external factors into a “prime rate.” The interest credit cards companies charge on top of that is called the “APR margin” rate.

Even when controlling for operating costs and high benchmark rates, the APR margin in 2023 — clocking in at 14.3% — has also never been higher.

The excess APR charges cost consumers a collective $25 billion last year, according to the CFPB.

“This additional interest burden may push consumers into persistent debt, accruing more in interest and fees than they pay towards the principal each year,” the CFPB researchers wrote.

According to Rust from the Consumer Fed, credit card companies are able to do this because of a lack of competition in the industry.

Federal research backs this up. Earlier this month, the CFPB released a separate report that found the largest credit card issuers are the ones disproportionately jacking up their APRs, while smaller banks and firms had interest rates often 5 to 10 percentage points lower on average.

These findings are raising major antitrust concerns among regulators and consumer advocates.

Already, the CFPB is taking action to lower credit card late fees to $8, down from about $30, as part of the Biden administration’s war against what it calls “junk fees.” Similarly in Congress, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to push through a measure called the Credit Card Competition Act in a bid to rein in soaring fees. As it stands, both efforts are proposals; neither is in effect.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Capital One announced its plans to purchase rival Discover. As two of the largest credit card issuers in the country, a Capital One-Discover merger would further limit competition in the industry.

Rust told Money that, if the deal goes through, credit card APRs are likely to climb higher still.

More from Money:

Here Are the Best Banks in America Right Now

Inside the Biden Administration’s Plan to Stop ‘Out-of-Control’ Overdraft Fees

Here’s the ‘Magic’ Mortgage Rate That’ll Nudge Many People Into Buying Homes

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