The ultra-low rates consumers had grown accustomed to since living in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis have all but certainly come to an end.

In just a year and a half, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has lifted interest rates 11 times, bringing its key federal funds rate to a target range of 5.25-5.5 percent. That’s the highest since early 2001, a Bankrate analysis of the Fed’s moves throughout history shows.

The Federal Reserve’s aggressively hawkish policy has been all about defeating red-hot inflation. Up until March 2022, rates were at a rock bottom level of near-zero. Not since the 1980s has the Fed hiked rates at this speed, Bankrate’s analysis also found.

The Fed’s benchmark rate matters because it has ripple effects on every aspect of consumers’ financial lives, from how much they’re charged to borrow to how much they earn in interest when they save. Massive rate hikes over the past 18 months have been matched by unprecedented leaps on key forms of consumer credit, such as mortgages and credit cards. But a silver-lining for consumers, yields are also the highest in over a decade on certificates of deposit (CDs) and savings accounts.

But if the past is any guide, Fed officials won’t lift borrowing costs forever. Throughout the Fed’s rate-hike history, officials have rarely been able to slow the economy without kickstarting a recession.

Here’s how the federal funds rate has changed through history, according to records of Fed policy moves. Each change is reflected in “basis points,” which represent one-hundredth of a percent.

Fed’s interest rate history of 1981-1990: Volcker fights the ‘Great Inflation’ with historic rate moves and aggressively hawkish monetary policy

The fed funds rate has never been as high as it was in the 1980s.

Most of the reason why is because the Fed wanted to combat inflation, which soared in 1980 to its highest level on record: 14.6 percent.

As a result, the U.S. central bank did something that might seem counterintuitive for an institution that strives to maintain the most productive economy possible: It manufactured a recession to bring prices back down.

The fed funds rate began the decade at a target level of 14 percent in January 1980. By the time officials concluded a conference call on Dec. 5, 1980, they hiked the target range by 2 percentage points to 19-20 percent, its highest ever.

Consumer borrowing costs soared as a result. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit the highest on record during the era, spiking to near 20 percent, Bankrate’s historic data shows.

Key insights on the 1981-1990 era

Federal Reserve
  • Fed chair of the decade: Paul Volcker (1979-1987)
  • Peak of the decade: 19-20 percent
  • Low of the decade: 6 percent

Rates began drifting downward sharply, falling first to a target range of 13-14 percent on Nov. 2, 1982, then down to 11.5-12 percent on July 20, 1982. After some oscillation, interest rates haven’t eclipsed 10 percent since November 1984. The “effective” fed funds rate averaged at 9.97 percent during this 10-year period.

But the Fed has changed almost as much as interest rates since then. Instead of slowly and gradually moving rates in one direction (up or down), officials in this decade would often hike their benchmark rate, then cut it, then raise it again. The Fed would also adjust rates at unscheduled meetings more often than not, after which it wouldn’t release policy statements. The fed funds rate also wouldn’t hold in as tight of a target range as it does today, sometimes spanning 5 percentage points instead of a 0.25 percentage point window. Those changes highlight a new mantra for the Fed: Avoid surprising markets, and you avoid unduly financial tightening.

Chairman Paul Volcker was the main driver of Fed policy in this decade, leading the Fed until Chairman Alan Greenspan took the post in August 1987.

Fed interest rate history of 1991-2000: Alan Greenspan steers the Fed through a brief recession then presides over ‘Great Moderation’ with a long economic expansion

Fed rate moves

Meeting date Rate change Target
January 9, 1991: Conference call -25 basis points 6.75 percent
February 1, 1991: Conference call -50 basis points 6.25 percent
March 8, 1991: Unscheduled move -25 basis points 6 percent
April 30, 1991: Conference call -25 basis points 5.75 percent
Aug. 5, 1991: Conference call -25 basis points 5.5 percent
Sept. 13, 1991: Conference call -25 basis points 5.25 percent
Oct. 30, 1991: Conference call -25 basis points 5 percent
Nov. 5, 1991 -25 basis points 4.75 percent
Dec. 6, 1991 (After a Dec. 2, 1991, conference call) -25 basis points 4.5 percent
Dec. 20, 1991 (After Dec. 17, 2001, meeting) -50 basis points 4 percent
April 9, 1992: Unscheduled move -25 basis points 3.75 percent
June 30-July 1, 1992 -50 basis points 3.25 percent
Sept. 4, 1992: Unscheduled move -25 basis points 3 percent
Feb. 3-4, 1994 +25 basis points 3.25 percent
March 22, 1994 +25 basis points 3.5 percent
April 18, 1994: Emergency meeting +25 basis points 3.75 percent
May 17, 1994 +50 basis points 4.25 percent
Aug. 16, 1994 +50 basis points 4.75 percent
Nov. 15, 1994 +75 basis points 5.5 percent
Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 1995 +50 basis points 6 percent
July 5- 6, 1995 -25 basis points 5.75 percent
Dec. 19, 1995 -25 basis points 5.5 percent
Jan. 30-31, 1996 -25 basis points 5.25 percent
March 25, 1997 +25 basis points 5.5 percent
Sept. 29, 1998 -25 basis points 5.25 percent
Oct. 15, 1998: Emergency meeting -25 basis points 5 percent
Nov. 17, 1998 -25 basis points 4.75 percent
June 29-30, 1999 +25 basis points 5 percent
Aug. 24, 1999 +25 basis points 5.25 percent
Nov. 16, 1999 +25 basis points 5.5 percent
Feb. 1-2, 2000 +25 basis points 5.75 percent
March 21, 2000 +25 basis points 6 percent
May 16, 2000 +50 basis points 6.5 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

After a tumultuous few years for the Fed during the Great Inflation, Greenspan faced a much calmer period, though that’s not to say he didn’t have his fair share of challenges during his near 18-year tenure at the helm of the Fed.

After an eight-month recession beginning in August 1990, Greenspan and Co. managed to take the fed funds rate all the way up to a target level of 6.5 percent in May 2000, the highest of the period. Rates reached a low of 3 percent in September 1992, the lowest of the decade.

Besides during the early 1990s, the Fed mainly adjusted rates at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings, a practice that is in rhythm with today’s Fed. Officials did hike rates on April 19, 1994, at an emergency meeting due to inflation worries, and they cut borrowing costs at an unscheduled Oct. 15, 1998, gathering.

Key insights on the 1991-2000 era

Federal Reserve
  • Fed chair of the decade: Alan Greenspan (1987-2006)
  • Peak of the decade: 6.75 percent
  • Low of the decade: 3 percent

Another noteworthy feat, the U.S. central bank also made its first “insurance” cuts, meaning officials cut interest rates to give the economy an extra boost, not to fight a recession. Such was the case in 1995, 1996 and 1998, when the financial system confronted a share of headwinds ranging from debt default in Russia to a major hedge fund’s collapse.

The longest-serving Fed chair to date, Greenspan is often nicknamed “maestro” for having steered the economy through the longest economic expansion at the time. The Fed unofficially began identifying 2 percent as its inflation target during this decade — a pivotal decision that would irrevocably change modern monetary policy.

A proponent of deregulation, however, his policies would later be blamed for fueling asset bubbles that led to the dotcom boom and bust and the 2008 housing crisis.

Fed interest rate history of 2001-2010: Fed faces the dotcom bust, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis

Rate cuts 2001-2003

Meeting date Rate change Target
Jan. 3, 2001: Emergency meeting -50 basis points 6 percent
Jan 30-31, 2001 -50 basis points 5.5 percent
March 20, 2001 -50 basis points 5 percent
April 18, 2001: Emergency meeting -50 basis points 4.5 percent
May 15, 2001 -50 basis points 4 percent
June 26-27, 2001 -25 basis points 3.75 percent
Aug. 21, 2001 -25 basis points 3.5 percent
September 17, 2001: Emergency meeting -50 basis points 3 percent
Oct. 2, 2001 -50 basis points 2.5 percent
Nov. 6, 2001 -50 basis points 2 percent
Dec. 11, 2001 -25 basis points 1.75 percent
Nov. 6, 2002 -50 basis points 1.25 percent
June 24-25, 2003 -25 basis points 1 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

Rate hikes 2004-2006

Meeting date Rate change Target
June 29-30, 2004 +25 basis points 1.25 percent
Aug. 10, 2004 +25 basis points 1.5 percent
Sept. 21, 2004 +25 basis points 1.75 percent
Nov. 10, 2004 +25 basis points 2 percent
Dec. 14, 2004 +25 basis points 2.25 percent
Feb. 1-2, 2005 +25 basis points 2.5 percent
March 22, 2005 +25 basis points 2.75 percent
May 3, 2005 +25 basis points 3 percent
June 29-30, 2005 +25 basis points 3.25 percent
Aug. 9, 2005 +25 basis points 3.5 percent
Sept. 20, 2005 +25 basis points 3.75 percent
Nov. 1, 2005 +25 basis points 4 percent
Dec. 13, 2005 +25 basis points 4.25 percent
Jan. 31, 2006 +25 basis points 4.5 percent
March 28, 2006 +25 basis points 4.75 percent
May 10, 2006 +25 basis points 5 percent
June 29, 2006 +25 basis points 5.25 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

Rate cuts 2007-2008

Meeting date Rate change Target & target range
Sept. 18, 2007 -50 basis points 4.75 percent
Oct. 30-31, 2007 -25 basis points 4.5 percent
Dec. 11, 2007 -25 basis points 4.25 percent
Jan. 22, 2008: Emergency meeting -75 basis points 3.5 percent
Jan. 29-30, 2008 -50 basis points 3 percent
March 18, 2008 -75 basis points 2.25 percent
April 29-30, 2008 -25 basis points 2 percent
Oct 8, 2008: Emergency meeting -50 basis points 1.50 percent
Oct. 28-29, 2008 -50 basis points 1 percent
Dec. 15-16, 2008 -100 to 75 basis points 0-0.25 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

The 2000s were the Fed’s most rhythmic period yet, with the Fed following clear cycles for both tightening and loosening rates.

To start the decade, the Fed slashed interest rates 13 times to a low of 1 percent — a range that might’ve been unthinkable for those who remembered rates in the ‘80s — after a stock market bubble in the technology sector burst, kickstarting a recession that was exacerbated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Key insights on the 2001-2010 era

Federal Reserve
  • Fed chair of the decade:
    • Alan Greenspan (1987-2006)
    • Ben Bernanke (2006-2014)
  • Peak of the decade: 6 percent
  • Low of the decade: 1 percent

The U.S. central bank then managed to hike interest rates 17 times between 2004 and 2006 — all of those increases in gradual, quarter-point moves — to a high of 5.25 percent.

That was until the financial crisis of 2008 happened and the ensuing Great Recession, which slammed the brakes on the economy. The Fed then did the unthinkable: It slashed interest rates by 100 basis points to near-zero. Chairman Ben Bernanke led the Fed during this period, which was, at the time, one of its most aggressive economic rescue efforts in Fed history.

Fed interest rate history of 2011-2020: The economy recovers from the Great Recession and faces the coronavirus pandemic a decade later

Rate hikes 2015-2018

Meeting date Rate change Target range
Dec. 15-16, 2015 +25 basis points 0.25-0.5 percent
Dec. 13-14, 2016 +25 basis points 0.5-0.75 percent
March 14-15, 2017 +25 basis points 0.75-1 percent
June 13-14, 2017 +25 basis points 1-1.25 percent
Dec. 12-13, 2017 +25 basis points 1.25-1.5 percent
March 20-21, 2018 +25 basis points 1.5-1.75 percent
June 12-13, 2018 +25 basis points 1.75-2 percent
Sept. 25-26, 2018 +25 basis points 2-2.25 percent
Dec. 18-19, 2018 +25 basis points 2.25-2.5 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

Rate cuts 2019-2020

Meeting date Rate change Target range
July 30-31, 2019 -25 basis points 2-2.25 percent
Sept. 17-18, 2019 -25 basis points 1.75-2 percent
Oct. 29-30, 2019 -25 basis points 1.5-1.75 percent
March 3, 2020: Emergency meeting -50 basis points 1-1.25 percent
March 14-15, 2020: Emergency meeting -100 basis points 0-0.25 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

The Fed couldn’t escape zero rates in the 2010s just as much as it couldn’t escape devastating recessions.

Officials would ultimately end up leaving interest rates at rock-bottom until 2015, after which they only hiked interest rates by 25 basis points once per year. That is, until 2017, when the Fed hiked three times, and 2018, when they hiked four more times. The fed funds rate peaked at 2.25-2.5 percent.

Facing tepid inflation and moderating growth, the Fed also decided in 2019 to cut interest rates three times to give the economy a fresh boost — similar to Greenspan’s “insurance” cuts of the 1990s.

Key insights on the 2011-2020 era

Federal Reserve
  • Fed chair of the decade:
    • Ben Bernanke (2006-2014)
    • Janet Yellen (2014-2018)
    • Jerome Powell (2018-Present)
  • Peak of the decade: 2.25-2.5 percent
  • Low of the decade: 0-0.25 percent

The fed funds rate looked like it was about to settle there until the coronavirus pandemic came along, ushering back in another era of near-zero rates. The Fed slashed rates to zero across two emergency meetings within 13 days of each other as the gears of the economy came to a halt.

Chair Janet Yellen took the helm of the Fed from Bernanke in February 2014 and steered the economy through its Great Recession recovery until February 2018, when Chair Jerome Powell was installed.

Fed interest rate today 2021-present: The Fed’s latest moves in an era of soaring inflation

Rate hikes 2022-present

Meeting date Rate change Target range
March 15-16, 2022 +25 basis points 0.25-0.5 percent
May 3-4, 2022 +50 basis points 0.75-1 percent
June 14-15, 2022 +75 basis points 1.50-1.75 percent
July 26-27, 2022 +75 basis points 2.25-2.5 percent
Sept. 20-21, 2022 +75 basis points 3-3.25 percent
Nov. 1-2, 2022 +75 basis points 3.75-4 percent
Dec. 13-14, 2022 +50 basis points 4.25-4.5 percent
Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2023 +25 basis points 4.5-4.75 percent
March 21-22, 2023 +25 basis points 4.75-5 percent
May 2-3, 2023 +25 basis points 5-5.25 percent
July 25-26, 2023 +25 basis points 5.25-5.5 percent

Source: Fed’s board of governors

It’s been a blast from the past for Fed rate-setting, with inflation returning as the No. 1 economic threat in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

The Fed hiked interest rates by a quarter point in March 2022 for the first time since 2018, leaving interest rates at near-zero percent for two years to give the economy time to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. They didn’t stop breaking milestones there. The Fed approved the largest rate hike since 2000 during its May gathering when it raised interest rates by half a percentage point, as well as the largest rate hike since 1994 when it lifted interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point in June. The Fed followed up on that historic move with three additional increases of that size.

Officials felt comfortable leaving their foot on the gas even as inflation soared to a 40-year high — in part, because they were guided under a false assumption that massive price pressures were only transitory.

Experts say U.S. central bankers usually worry about the wrong conflict. Just how officials spent the 1990s worried about inflation, the Fed probably spent the early 2020s fearing too-low inflation, says Scott Sumner, monetary policy chair at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

“Central banks tend to focus on fighting the last war,” Sumner says. “If you have a lot of inflation, you get a more hawkish stance. If you’ve undershot your inflation target, then the Fed thinks, ‘Well, maybe we should’ve been more expansionary.’ Powell came into his job with that determination, that if there was another recession, they would be more aggressive. My own view is that the strategy was relatively successful at first but pushed too far.”

Key insights on the 2021-2022 era

Federal Reserve
  • Fed chair of the decade: Jerome Powell (2018-Present)
  • Peak of the decade: 5.25-5.5 percent
  • Low of the decade: 0-0.25 percent

By many standards, however, an entirely different U.S. central bank is steering the boat, meaning officials don’t want to tame inflation with aggressive, volatile rate hikes similar to the 1980s, he adds. Yet, officials have also spoken out against the stop-and-go manner of rate hikes leading up to the Great Inflation of the 1980s.

Price pressures have been cooling, but they’re still a far-cry away from the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target — especially when excluding the food and energy prices that have been slowing the post. So-called “core” prices in June rose 4.3 percent from a year ago, even as overall headline inflation is a slower 3.7 percent.

Stubborn inflation could keep the Fed on guard to raise interest rates even higher and keep them at that historically high level for longer, economists say.

“Whether rates rise further beyond this month’s meeting will depend in large part on inflation readings over the coming months.” — Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst

Bottom line

With higher interest rates likely here to stay, concentrate on eliminating high-interest debt, boosting your credit score and shopping around for the best places where you can park your cash, so your money is rewarded.

“Restoring price stability is essential to set the stage for achieving maximum employment and stable prices over the longer run,” Powell said after the Fed’s February rate decision. “The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy.”