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More stat’s on Credit Cards than you ever wanted

April 6, 2012

Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics

By Ben Woolsey and 

 

This page contains credit card statistics — including statistics on credit card debt, credit card delinquencies, credit scores, credit card interest rates, bankruptcies, average credit card debt and more — compiled by the CreditCards.com staff. Statistics on this page will be updated regularly as we receive new or updated credit card data.  Some data may appear multiple times on the page because the information is applicable in multiple categories.

If you have credit card statistics that you’d like to share, or if you have a question, comment or concern about what has or hasn’t been included on the page, please e-mail us at Editors@CreditCards.com.

Credit card statistics road map
Below is a list of the various categories of statistics on this page. Click the link for more information.
Most popular searches

Credit cards

Debit cards

Bankruptcy and delinquency

Business credit cards

Credit scores, reports

Consumer debt

Fees

Demographics

History

Identity theft, fraud

Interest rates/APRs

Issuers/networks

Online use

Payment trends

Prepaid cards

Rewards

Total purchases/transactions

Most popular searches

  • Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,956*
  • 609.8 million credit cards held by U.S. consumers. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Average number of credit cards held by cardholders: 3.5, as of yearend 2008 (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Average APR on new credit card offer: See current CreditCards.com Weekly Rate Report (the link automatically takes you to the most recent edition of our weekly nationwide survey).
  • Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 12.78 percent, as of November 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, released January 2012)
  • Total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt): $801 billion, as of December 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, released February 2012)
  • Total U.S. consumer debt: $2.5 trillion, as of December 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, released February 2012)
  • U.S. credit card 30-day delinquency rate in January 2012: 2.93 percent. (Source: Moody’s, February 2012 report)

Credit cards

Circulation

Total cards in circulation in U.S.
(Through year-end 2011, unless otherwise noted)

  • American Express credit: 50.6 million — up from 48.9 million at yearend 2010 (Source: AmericanExpress.com)
  • MasterCard credit: 176 million — up from 143 million at yearend 2010 (Source: MasterCard) 
  • MasterCard debit: 129 million — up from 119 million at yearend 2010 (Source: MasterCard)
  • Visa credit: 261 million as of Sept. 30, 2011 — down from 269 million, as of Sept. 30, 2010 (Source: Visa)
  • Visa debit: 392 million as of Sept. 30, 2011 — down from 399 million, as of Sept. 30, 2010 (Source: Visa)
  • Discover cards: Unavailable

 

Card ownership

  • 176.8 million credit cardholders in 2008 (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Some 29 percent of poll respondents reported that they do not have a credit card. That was a more than 10 percent jump from the number of respondents who reported having no credit cards in June 2009. (Source: Scientific poll for CreditCards.com, conducted Feb. 5-7, 2010)
  • The average credit cardholder has 3.5 credit cards. Including both cardholders and non-cardholders, the average consumer has 2.7 cards each. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • The average age at which a U.S. consumer under the age of 35 first adopted a credit card is 20.8 years. The average age of credit card adoption for a consumer over the age of 65 is 40.6 years. (Source: “The 2008 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)
  • Eighty percent of consumers currently own a debit card, compared to 78 percent who own a credit card and 17 who own a prepaid card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 60 percent of consumers have a rewards credit card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 21 percent of consumer currently have a contactless debit card, while 26 percent have a contactless credit card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • In the fourth quarter of 2008, consumers over 60 had an average of 5.6 open bankcard and retail accounts. Overall, consumers had an average of 5.4 cards. A year before, those over 60 had 6.1 open cards and consumers overall had 5.5. In 2006, those over 60 had 6.2 open cards and consumers overall had 5.5. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 159 million credit cardholders in the United States in 2000, 173 million in 2006, and that number is projected to grow to 181 million Americans by 2010. (Source: Census Bureau)
  • In 2006, the United States Census Bureau determined that there were nearly 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the U.S. A stack of all those credit cards would reach more than 70 miles into space — and be almost as tall as 13 Mount Everests. (Source: NY Times, Feb. 23, 2009)
  • As of yearend 2009, there were 270 million Visa credit cards and 382 million Visa debit cards in circulation in the United States. (Source: Visa.com)
  • As of yearend 2009, there were 203 million MasterCard credit cards and 125 million MasterCard debit cards in circulation in the United States. (Source: MasterCard.com)
  • As of yearend 2009, there were 48.9 million American Express credit cards in circulation in the United States. (Source: AmericanExpress.com)
  • As of yearend 2009, there were 54.4 million Discover credit cards in circulation in the United States. (Source: Discover.com)
  • Eighty-four percent of the student population overall have credit cards, an increase of approximately 11 percent since the fall of 2004. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Only 2 percent of undergraduates had no credit history. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Half of college undergraduates had four or more credit cards in 2008. That’s up from 43 percent in 2004 and just 32 percent in 2000.  (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Since 2004, students who arrived on campus as freshmen with a credit card already in-hand have increased from 23 percent to 39 percent. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents said they would consider switching their primary credit card if a better feature were offered. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)
  • 76 percent of undergraduates have credit cards, and the average undergrad has $2,200 in credit card. Additionally, they will amass almost $20,000 in student debt. (Source: Nellie Mae, “Undergraduate Students and Credit Cards in 2004: An Analysis of Usage Rates and Trends”)
  • 41 percent of college students have a credit card. Of the students with cards, about 65 percent pay their bills in full every month, which is higher than the general adult population. (Source: Student Monitor annual financial services study, 2008)
  • Approximately 74.9 percent of the U.S. families surveyed in 2004 had credit cards, and 58 percent of those families carried a balance. In 2001, 76.2 percent of families had credit cards, and 55 percent of those families carried a balance. (Source: Federal Reserve Bulletin, February 2006)
  • About a quarter have no credit cards, and an additional 30 percent or so pay off their balances every month. (Source: Federal Reserve Board survey of consumer finances, 2004)
  • On average, today’s consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, and bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Not included are savings and checking accounts (typically not reported to a credit bureau). Of these 13 credit obligations, nine are likely to be credit cards and four are likely to be installment loans. (Source: myfico.com)
  • The average consumer’s oldest obligation is 14 years old, indicating that he or she has been managing credit for some time. In fact, one out of four consumers had credit histories of 20 years or longer. Only one in 20 consumers had credit histories shorter than two years. (Source: myfico.com)
  • Approximately 51 percent of the U.S. population has at least two credit cards. (Source: Experian national score index study, February 2007)
  • At about 20 percent, New Hampshire and New Jersey have the largest concentration of consumers with 10 or more credit cards. (Source: Experian national score index study, February 2007)
  • Consumers carry more than 1 billion Visa cards worldwide. More than 450 million of those cards are in the United States. (Source: Visa USA internal statistics, 4th quarter 2006)
  • About 80 million contactless payment cards are expected to be issued through 2009, according to Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. (Source: Contactless News, “Contactless Payments: What’s Next?” August 2009)
  • Of families with credit cards in 2007, 96.1 percent had bank cards, up less than 1 percent from 2004. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • Of families with credit cards in 2007, 11.9 percent held gas cards, and that’s down more than 5 percent from 2004. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)

Customer satisfaction

J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Credit Card Satisfaction Study Rankings

  1. American Express
  2. Discover
  3. US Bank
  4. Wells Fargo
  5. Chase
  6. Barclaycard
  7. Bank of America
  8. Capital One
  9. Citi
  10. HSBC

(Source: J.D. Power and Associates)

Bankruptcy/delinquency

  • U.S. credit card 60-day delinquency rate: 4.27 percent. (Source: Fitch Ratings, April 2010)

Business credit cards

  • Credit cards are now the most common source of financing for America’s small-business owners. (Source: National Small Business Association survey, 2008)
  • 44 percent of small-business owners identified credit cards as a source of financing that their company had used in the previous 12 months —- more than any other source of financing, including business earnings. In 1993, only 16 percent of small-businesses owners identified credit cards as a source of funding they had used in the preceding 12 months. (Source: National Small Business Association survey, 2008)

Credit limits and usage

  • In 2007, 97 percent of consumers indicated they used a credit card in the past year. In 2008, that number plummeted to 72 percent. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • Credit card usage fell dramatically from 2007 to 2008, with only 64 percent of consumers indicating they used a credit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey, compared to 87 percent of consumers in 2007 — a 23 percentage point decline. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • 80 percent of Americans 65 or older indicated they used a credit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. That’s 13 points higher than any other age group. They also used debit cards far less than other age groups. Only 47 percent of those over 65 said they had used a debit card in the month before the survey, 19 points lower than any other age group. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • 63 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 indicated they had used a credit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • Just 51 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 indicated they had used a credit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. 71 percent of that age group said that they had used a debit card in the same period. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • 92 percent of cards included a fee for exceeding the credit limit, including 100 percent of all student cards. The amount of the overlimit fee is $39 on most accounts. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • For families having any bank-type cards, the median number of such cards remained at 2; the median credit limit on all such cards rose 21.4 percent, to $18,000, and the median interest rate on the card with the largest balance (or on the newest card, if no outstanding balances existed) rose 1.0 percentage point, to 12.5 percent. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • 58 percent of Hispanics have not used a credit card in the past 30 days. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • 31 percent of Hispanics typically pay cash for their purchases. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • Approximately 14 percent of Americans use 50 percent or more of their available credit. (Source: Experian National Score Index Study, February 2007)
  • At about 17 percent each, Alaska and Hawaii have the largest concentration of consumers who use 50 percent or more of their available credit. (Source: Experian National Score Index Study, February 2007)
  • Residents of Jackson, Miss., use the highest percentage of their credit limit. (Source: Men’s Health magazine’s personal debt survey, July 2008)
  • Lincoln, Neb., residents use the lowest percentage of their credit limit. (Source: Men’s Health magazine’s personal debt survey, July 2008)
  • 95 percent of surveyed issuers have over-limit fees. The average over-limit fee, among institutions with over-limit fees, is $29.13. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2008.)
  • 37 percent of consumers say they are using their credit cards less. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, “Credit Card Issuer Profitability in a Difficult Economy,” July 2008)

Debt

  • In 2004, of those with credit cards, 84 percent of African-American households carried credit card debt compared with 54 percent of white households. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
  • Over 90 percent of African-American families earning between $10,000 and $24,999 had credit card debt. (Source: Demos.org study, November 2007)
  • 42 percent of Hispanics don’t like the idea of being in debt. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average (mean) balance grew to $3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s $946 to $1,645. Twenty-one percent of undergraduates had balances of between $3,000 and $7,000, also up from the last study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • In spring of 2008, only 15 percent of freshmen had a zero balance, down dramatically from 69 percent in the fall of 2004. The median debt freshmen carried was $939, nearly triple the $373 in 2004. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Seniors graduated with an average credit card debt of more than $4,100, up from $2,900 almost four years ago. Close to one-fifth of seniors carried balances greater than $7,000. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • The average college graduate has nearly $20,000 in debt; average credit card debt has increased 47 percent between 1989 and 2004 for 25-to 34-year-olds and 11 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds. Nearly one in five 18- to 24-year-olds is in “debt hardship,” up from 12 percent in 1989. (Source: Demos.org, “The Economic State of Young America,” May 2008)
  • Discussing credit card debt is highly taboo. The topics at the top of the list of things that people say they are very or somewhat unlikely to talk openly about with someone they just met were: The amount of credit card debt (81 percent); details of your love life (81 percent); your salary (77 percent); the amount you pay for your monthly mortgage or rent (72 percent); your health problems (62 percent); your weight (50 percent). (Source: CreditCards.com research, January 2009)

Fees

  • Penalty fees from credit cards peaked at about $22.9 billion in 2009, then fell to $22.5  billion as the effects of the Credit CARD act kicked in. (Source: R.K Hammer, longtime credit card industry adviser, June 2011 report)
  • From 1989 to 2004, the percentage of cardholders incurring fees due to late payments of 60 days or more increased from 4.8 percent to 8.0 percent. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
  • One-fourth of the students surveyed in US PIRG’s 2008 Campus Credit Card Trap report said that they have paid a late fee, and 15 percent have paid an “over the limit” fee. (Source: U.S. PIRG, “Campus Credit Card Trap”)
  • In the first 3 months of 2009, 27 percent of card offers carried an annual fee, up from 18 percent in 2008, according to the financial research firm Tower Group. (Source: ConsumerReports.org Money Blog, August 2009)
  • Thirty-one of the 39 credit cards did not charge an annual fee. That marked a larger number of credit cards with no annual fee than in 2008, when 35 of 41cards had no annual fee. The cost of those fees ranged from $18 to $150. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2009)
  • The average late fee was found to have risen to $28.19, way up from $25.90 in 2008. Consumer Action reported that late fees reached up to $39 per incident. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2009)
  • 92 percent of cards included a fee for exceeding the credit limit, including 100 percent of all student cards. The amount of the overlimit fee is $39 on most accounts. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • 64 percent of respondents said having “no annual fee” was an important reason why they chose the credit card they did the last time they got a new card. (Source: Aite Group survey, January 2008)
  • 95 percent of surveyed issuers have over-limit fees. The average over-limit fee, among institutions with over-limit fees, is $29.13. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2008.)

Interest rates/APRs

  • 36 percent of respondents said they didn’t know the interest rate on the card they use most often. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • The national average default rate as January 2012 stood at 28.6 percent, up from 27.9 percent two years earlier. The median rate also jumped, from 28.9 percent to 29.4 percent (Source: CreditCards.com survey of 100 leading credit cards, January 2012)
  • Fewer cards charge a penalty rate. In 2010, 91 percent of cards charged a penalty rate. In 2012, that had fallen to 69 percent. (Source: CreditCards.com survey of 100 leading credit cards, January 2012)
  • Slightly more than half of Americans — 51 percent — said that in the past 12 months, they carried over a balance and was charged interest on a credit card. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • Only eight percent of cards with penalty rate conditions offered to restore the original rate terms when payments are made on-time, usually after 12 months. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • 72 percent of cards included offers of low promotional rates which  issuers could revoke after a single late payment. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • On new credit card offers, the average APR: See current CreditCards.com Weekly Rate Report
  • On existing credit cards, the average rate for purchases is 12.78 percent (Federal Reserve G.19 consumer credit release, November 2011
  • Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 14.67 percent, as of February, 2010 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, May 2010)

Rewards

  • About 60 percent of consumers have a rewards credit card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 60 percent of consumers have a rewards credit card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Visa says rewards cards now make up more than half of all credit cards and about 80 percent of money spent on a credit card. (Source: Aite Group, January 2008)
  • Consumers say rewards are the second-most important reason for choosing to apply for a specific card, behind no annual fees and ahead of low interest rates.  (Source: Aite Group survey, January 2008)
  • More than one third of consumers choose which card to use in order to maximize card rewards. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents said they would consider switching their primary credit card if a better feature were offered. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)
  • Among customers who said they would consider switching cards based on better rewards, more than two thirds (68 percent) said that cash back would be most influential in getting them to switch. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)

Debit cards

Market share

Total cards in circulation in U.S.

  • Visa debit: 392 million as of Sept. 30, 2011 — down from 399 million, as of Sept. 30, 2010 (Source: Visa.com)
  • MasterCard debit: 129 million as of Dec. 31, 2011 — up from 119 million, as of Dec. 31, 2010 (Source: MasterCard.com)

Purchase/transaction volume

Purchase, transaction volume in U.S.
(Through Dec. 31, 2011)

  • Visa debit purchase volume: $1.15 trillion (Source: Visa.com)
  • Visa debit transaction volume: 30.7 billion (Source: Visa.com)
  • MasterCard debit purchase volume: $393 billion (Source: MasterCard.com)
  • MasterCard debit transaction volume: 9.85 billion (Source: MasterCard.com)

Other statistics

  • In 2008, 72 percent of consumers indicated they used a debit card in the past year. In 2007, that number was 65 percent. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • Debit card usage grew from 2007 to 2008, with 66 percent of consumers indicating they used a debit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey, compared to 57 percent of consumers in 2007. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • Only 47 percent of Americans over 65 said they had used a debit card in the month before the September 2008 survey, 19 points lower than any other age group. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • 76 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 indicated they had used a debit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. 63 percent of that age group said that had used a credit card in the same period. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • 71 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 said that they had used a debit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. Just 51 percent of that same age group indicated they had used a credit card in the same period. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • As of December 31, 2008, there were 126 million MasterCard debit cards in circulation in the United States. (Source: MasterCard.com)
  • 74 percent of monthly college spending is with cash and debit cards. Only 7 percent is with credit cards. (Source: Student Monitor annual financial services study, 2008)

Fees


Bankruptcy and delinquency

Bankruptcy

  • Total bankruptcy filings in 2009 reached 1.4 million in 2009, up from 1.09 million in 2008. The vast majority were personal bankruptcies — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Business bankruptcies made up 6 percent of all filings. (Source: AACER, the American Bankruptcy Institute, January 2010)
  • Nevada surpassed Tennessee atop the listing of bankruptcies per capita, with more than 11 bankruptcies filed for every 1,000 residents. Tennessee and Georgia took the second and third slots behind the Silver State. Compared to 2009 third-quarter data, the biggest mover was Arizona, which rose six spots from No. 21 to No. 15. At the other end of the scale is Alaska, which had only 1.4 bankruptcies per capita, meaning the average Nevadan was eight times more likely to file bankruptcy than the average Alaskan. (Source: AACER, the American Bankruptcy Institute, January 2010)
  • Young Americans now have the second highest rate of bankruptcy, just after those aged 35 to 44. The rate among 25- to 34-year-olds increased between 1991 and 2001, indicating that this generation is more likely to file bankruptcy as young adults than were young boomers at the same age. (Source: “Generation Broke: Growth of Debt Among Young Americans”)
  • Memphis, Tenn., consumers have suffered the most bankruptcies. (Source: Men’s Health magazine’s personal debt survey, July 2008)
  • Yonkers, N.Y., has suffered the fewest bankruptcies. (Source: Men’s Health magazine’s personal debt survey, July 2008)

Delinquency

  • U.S. credit card 60-day delinquency rate: 4.27 percent. (Source: Fitch Ratings, April 2010)
  • According to Fitch Ratings, the number of cardholders 60 or more days late on payments fell in January of 2010 to 4.50 percent. That number is flat year-to-year. Those 30 days late declined to 5.72 percent and is down 5 percent year-to-year. (Source: Associated Press, March 2010)
  • According to Fitch Ratings, the number of credit card defaults hit 11.37 percent, the highest level since a record 11.52 percent in September 2009. (Source: Associated Press, March 2010)
  • In the last 12 months, 15 percent of American adults, or nearly 34 million people, have been late making a credit card payment and 8 percent (18 million people) have missed a payment entirely. (Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 2009 Financial Literacy Survey, April 2009)
  • 26 percent of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not paying all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number is at 51 percent.  (Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 2009 Financial Literacy Survey, April 2009)
  • Penalty fees from credit cards will add up to about $20.5 billion in 2009, according to R. K. Hammer, a consultant to the credit card industry. (Source: New York Times, September 2009)
  • Only eight percent of cards with penalty rate conditions offered to restore the original rate terms when payments are made on-time, usually after 12 months. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • 72 percent of cards included offers of low promotional rates which  issuers could revoke after a single late payment. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • From 1989 to 2004, the percentage of cardholders incurring fees due to late payments of 60 days or more increased from 4.8 percent to 8.0 percent. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
  • One-fourth of the students surveyed in US PIRG’s 2008 Campus Credit Card Trap report said that they have paid a late fee, and 15 percent have paid an “over the limit” fee. (Source: U.S. PIRG, “Campus Credit Card Trap”)
  • When finances are tight, 59 percent of people would pay their credit card bills last. A majority — 52 percent — would pay the mortgage first and 38 percent say they would pay for utilities before paying other obligations. (Source: CreditCards.com survey, December 2008)
  • On average, today’s consumers are paying their bills on time, with less than half of all consumers have ever been reported as 30 or more days late on a payment. Only three out of 10 have ever been 60 or more days overdue on any credit obligation. Seventy-seven percent of all consumers have never had a loan or account that was 90+ days overdue, and fewer than 20 percent have ever had a loan or account closed by the lender due to default . (Source: myfico.com)

Business credit cards

  • As of the end of 2009, 83 percent of small businesses used credit cards; 64 percent used small business cards, and 41 percent used personal cards. (Source: “Report to the Congress on the Use of Credit Cards by Small Businesses and the Credit Card Market for Small Businesses,” May 2010)
  • During 2009, about 20 percent of small businesses attempted to obtain a new credit card. (Source: “Report to the Congress on the Use of Credit Cards by Small Businesses and the Credit Card Market for Small Businesses,” May 2010)
  • An estimated 64 percent of small firms — those with 1 to 50 employees — used business credit cards either for borrowing or transacting in 2009. (Source: “Report to the Congress on the Use of Credit Cards by Small Businesses and the Credit Card Market for Small Businesses,” May 2010)
  • Among small businesses, credit cards are the second most commonly used financial product. Only checking accounts are used by more small businesses. (Source: “Report to the Congress on the Use of Credit Cards by Small Businesses and the Credit Card Market for Small Businesses,” May 2010)
  • More than 20 percent of firms applying for a credit card were not able to get a card, and another 5.6 percent did not accept the card because of unfavorable terms. (Source: “Report to the Congress on the Use of Credit Cards by Small Businesses and the Credit Card Market for Small Businesses,” May 2010)
  • During 2009, the most frequent change reported — by 60 percent of those firms reporting changes — was higher interest rates, followed by lowered credit limits, which was reported by 23 percent. (Source: “Report to the Congress on the Use of Credit Cards by Small Businesses and the Credit Card Market for Small Businesses,” May 2010)
    Credit cards are now the most common source of financing for America’s small-business owners. (Source: National Small Business Association survey, 2008)
  • 44 percent of small-business owners identified credit cards as a source of financing that their company had used in the previous 12 months —- more than any other source of financing, including business earnings. In 1993, only 16 percent of small-businesses owners identified credit cards as a source of funding they had used in the preceding 12 months. (Source: National Small Business Association survey, 2008)

Credit scores, reports

  • Only 38 percent of survey respondents have obtained a copy of their credit report, and even fewer (36 percent) have checked their credit score in the past 12 months. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • More than half — 52 percent — of those who have checked their credit score in the past 12 months reported having credit scores above 720. By contrast, only 17 percent of those who have checked their credit score had credit scores below 620. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • From Q3 2008 to Q1 2009, the average TransUnion credit score fell 6 points to 651, the credit bureau says. Scores fell even further in the some economically challenged states: California fell 10 points and Arizona, 11. (Source: USAToday.com, April 2009)
  • The U.S. average VantageScore® is 769. The average score rises to 837 when looking solely at the over-60 population. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • Nearly two-thirds of American adults (64 percent) — or 144 million people — have not ordered a copy of their credit report in the past year; this grows to nearly three-quarters (72 percent) among Hispanic Americans. (Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 2009 Financial Literacy Survey, April 2009)
  • More than one-third of American adults (37 percent) admit that they do not know their credit score. (Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 2009 Financial Literacy Survey, April 2009)
  • Only 2 percent of undergraduates had no credit history. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • On average, today’s consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, and bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Not included are savings and checking accounts (typically not reported to a credit bureau). Of these 13 credit obligations, nine are likely to be credit cards and four are likely to be installment loans. (Source: myfico.com)
  • The average consumer’s oldest obligation is 14 years old, indicating that he or she has been managing credit for some time. In fact, one out of four consumers had credit histories of 20 years or longer. Only one in 20 consumers had credit histories shorter than two years. (Source: myfico.com)
  • The average consumer has had only one credit inquiry on his or her accounts within the past year. Fewer than 6 percent had four or more inquiries resulting from a search for new credit. (Source: myfico.com)
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, residents have America’s worst credit scores. (Source: Men’s Health magazine’s personal debt survey, July 2008)
  • Sioux Falls, S.D., boasts America’s best credit scores. (Source: Men’s Health magazine’s personal debt survey, July 2008)

Consumer debt

Total debt

  • Total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt): $793.1 billion, as of May 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, July 2011)
  • Total U.S. consumer debt: $2.43 trillion, as of May 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, July 2011)
  • Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,799*
  • Average total debt in 2009 (including credit cards, mortgage, home equity, student loans and more) for U.S. households with credit card debt: $54,000. (That’s down from $93,850 in 2008.)
  • Average total debt in 2009 (including credit cards, mortgage, home equity, student loans and more) for all U.S. households: $16,046. (That’s down from $35,245 in 2008.)
  • Total U.S. consumer debt (which includes credit card debt and noncredit-card debt but not mortgage debt) reached $2.45 trillion at the end of 2009, down sharply from $2.56 trillion at the end of 2008. (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report, March 2010)
  • Total U.S. consumer revolving debt fell to $866 billion at the end of 2009, down from $958 billion at the end of 2008. About 98 percent of that debt was credit card debt. (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report, March 2010)
  • The mean, or average, unpaid credit card balance last month was $3,389. The median is $90. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 56 percent of consumers carried an unpaid balance in the past 12 months. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 45 percent of consumers said their unpaid credit card balance had gotten “lower” or “much lower” in the past 12 months. Only 26 percent said it had gotten “higher” or “much higher.” (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Slightly more than half of Americans — 51 percent — said that in the past 12 months, they carried over a balance and was charged interest on a credit card. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • The average balance per open credit card — including both retail and bank cards — was $1,157 at the end of 2008. That’s up from $1,033 at the end of 2006, a growth of nearly 11 percent in two years. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • As of March 2009, U.S. revolving consumer debt, made up almost entirely of credit card debt, was about $950 Billion. In the fourth quarter of 2008, 13.9 percent of consumer disposable income went to service this debt. (Source: U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, “Vicious Cycle: How Unfair Credit Card Company Practices Are Squeezing Consumers and Undermining the Recovery,” May 2009)
  • “As household wealth has declined in the downturn, more American families are facing financial distress due to high debt burdens. In 2007, before the recession began, 14.7 percent of U.S. families had debt exceeding 40 percent of their income.” (Source: U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, “Vicious Cycle: How Unfair Credit Card Company Practices Are Squeezing Consumers and Undermining the Recovery,” May 2009)
  • In 2007, the average balance for those carrying a balance rose 30.4 percent, to $7,300. Meanwhile, the median balance — meaning half owe more and half owe less — for those carrying a balance rose 25.0 percent, to $3,000. These increases followed slower changes over the preceding three years, when the median increased 9.1 percent and the average climbed 16.7 percent. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • In the fourth quarter of 2008, consumers over 60 had an average balance of $763 per open bankcard or retail accounts. A year before, that balance was $746. The year before that, it was $735 — meaning the average has jumped about 4 percent in 2 years. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • In 2007, credit card balances made up 3.5 percent of the total debt for all U.S. families, including those with and without credit card debt. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • In 2007, fewer than half of U.S. families (46.1 percent) held credit card debt. That’s virtually unchanged from 2004’s 46.2 percent number. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average (mean) balance grew to $3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s $946 to $1,645. Twenty-one percent of undergraduates had balances of between $3,000 and $7,000, also up from the last study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Balances on bank cards accounted for 87.1 percent of outstanding credit card balances in 2007, up from 84.9 percent in 2004. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • Of the 73.0 percent of families with credit cards in 2007, only 60.3 percent had a balance at the time of the interview; in 2004, 74.9 percent had cards, and 58.0 percent of these families had an outstanding balance on them. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • “Total bankcard debt per bankcard borrower” is $5,710. This was alternately described as the total balance of bank-issued credit cards per consumer. (Source: TransUnion, December 2008)
  • The average American with a credit file is responsible for $16,635 in debt, excluding mortgages, according to Experian. (Source: U.S. News and World Report, “The End of Credit Card Consumerism,” August 2008)
  • Among the 35 percent of college students with credit cards that do not pay their balances in full every month, the average balance is $452. This is down 19 percent from 2007. Moreover, this balance is approximately one-third the size of the average balance for active nonstudent young adult accounts and one-fourth the size of active accounts for older adults. (Source: Student Monitor annual financial services study, 2008)
  • As of 2007, the majority of U.S. households had no credit card debt. (Source: Federal Reserve Board survey of consumer finances, February 2009)
  • When you take a snapshot of how much an individual bank cardholder has in debt on a given day, and ignore whether that debt will be paid off in the grace period, Alaska is the state whose cardholders have the highest debt: $7,827. Alaska is followed by Nevada at $6,636 and Tennessee at $6,568. At the other end of the scale, the states whose citizens carry the lowest card debt at a given moment are Iowa ($4,277), North Dakota ($4,403) and West Virginia ($4,517). (Source: TransUnion, December 2008)
  • About 40 percent of credit cardholders carry a balance of less than $1,000. About 15 percent are far less conservative in their use of credit cards and have total card balances in excess of $10,000. When you look at the total of all credit obligations combined (except mortgage loans), 48 percent of consumers carry less than $5,000 of debt. This includes all credit cards, lines of credit and loans — everything but mortgages. Nearly 37 percent carry more than $10,000 of nonmortgage debt as reported to the credit bureaus. (Source: myfico.com)
  • The typical consumer has access to approximately $19,000 on all credit cards combined. More than half of all people with credit cards are using less than 30 percent of their total credit card limit. Just over one in seven is using 80 percent or more of their credit card limit. (Source: myfico.com)
  • The average college graduate has nearly $20,000 in debt; average credit card debt has increased 47 percent between 1989 and 2004 for 25-to 34-year-olds and 11 percent for 18-to 24-year-olds. Nearly one in five 18-to 24-year-olds is in “debt hardship,” up from 12 percent in 1989. (Source: Demos.org, “The Economic State of Young America,” May 2008)
  • More than 90 percent of survey respondents believe they had the same amount — or less — debt as the average American. (Source: CreditCards.com survey, June 2007)
  • Miami residents are the biggest overspenders, one study says. The 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas were ranked in terms of percent of median yearly household income owed to credit card companies and Miami residents owed 22.61 percent. Tampa (17.1 percent) and Los Angeles (16.81 percent) came in second and third, respectively. (Source: Forbes.com, Equifax and US Census Bureau, April 2009)

Credit card debt

  • Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,799*
  • 76 percent of undergraduates have credit cards, and the average undergrad has $2,200 in credit card. Additionally, they will amass almost $20,000 in student debt. (Source: Nellie Mae, “Undergraduate Students and Credit Cards in 2004: An Analysis of Usage Rates and Trends”)
  • Total U.S. consumer revolving debt fell to $866 billion at the end of 2009, down from $958 billion at the end of 2008. About 98 percent of that debt was credit card debt. (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report, March 2010)
  • The mean, or average, unpaid credit card balance last month was $3,389. The median is $90. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 45 percent of consumers said their unpaid credit card balance had gotten “lower” or “much lower” in the past 12 months. Only 26 percent said it had gotten “higher” or “much higher.” (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • The average balance per open credit card — including both retail and bank cards — was $1,157 at the end of 2008. That’s up from $1,033 at the end of 2006, a growth of nearly 11 percent in two years. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • As of March 2009, U.S. revolving consumer debt, made up almost entirely of credit card debt, was about $950 Billion. In the fourth quarter of 2008, 13.9 percent of consumer disposable income went to service this debt. (Source: U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, “Vicious Cycle: How Unfair Credit Card Company Practices Are Squeezing Consumers and Undermining the Recovery,” May 2009)
  • In 2007, credit card balances made up 3.5 percent of the total debt for all U.S. families, including those with and without credit card debt. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • In 2007, fewer than half of U.S. families (46.1 percent) held credit card debt. That’s virtually unchanged from 2004’s 46.2 percent number. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average (mean) balance grew to $3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s $946 to $1,645. Twenty-one percent of undergraduates had balances of between $3,000 and $7,000, also up from the last study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Of the 73.0 percent of families with credit cards in 2007, only 60.3 percent had a balance at the time of the interview; in 2004, 74.9 percent had cards, and 58.0 percent of these families had an outstanding balance on them. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • Among the 35 percent of college students with credit cards that do not pay their balances in full every month, the average balance is $452. This is down 19 percent from 2007. Moreover, this balance is approximately one-third the size of the average balance for active nonstudent young adult accounts and one-fourth the size of active accounts for older adults. (Source: Student Monitor annual financial services study, 2008)
  • As of 2007, the majority of U.S. households had no credit card debt. (Source: Federal Reserve Board survey of consumer finances, February 2009)
  • About 40 percent of credit cardholders carry a balance of less than $1,000. About 15 percent are far less conservative in their use of credit cards and have total card balances in excess of $10,000. When you look at the total of all credit obligations combined (except mortgage loans), 48 percent of consumers carry less than $5,000 of debt. This includes all credit cards, lines of credit and loans — everything but mortgages. Nearly 37 percent carry more than $10,000 of nonmortgage debt as reported to the credit bureaus. (Source: myfico.com)
  • The typical consumer has access to approximately $19,000 on all credit cards combined. More than half of all people with credit cards are using less than 30 percent of their total credit card limit. Just over one in seven is using 80 percent or more of their credit card limit. (Source: myfico.com)

Debt as pct. of income

  • The average credit card-indebted family in 2004 allocated 21 percent of its income to servicing monthly debt compared to the 13 percent dedicated to debt payments among all households. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
  • In 2007, the average balance for those carrying a balance rose 30.4 percent, to $7,300. Meanwhile, the median balance — meaning half owe more and half owe less — for those carrying a balance rose 25.0 percent, to $3,000. These increases followed slower changes over the preceding three years, when the median increased 9.1 percent and the average climbed 16.7 percent. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • Miami residents are the biggest overspenders, one study says. The 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas were ranked in terms of percent of median yearly household income owed to credit card companies and Miami residents owed 22.61 percent. Tampa (17.1 percent) and Los Angeles (16.81 percent) came in second and third, respectively. (Source: Forbes.com, Equifax and US Census Bureau, April 2009)

Demographics

Asian-American

  • Nearly two in three Asian-Americans reported having at least two credit cards. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • Just 19 percent of Asian-Americans reported not having a credit card. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)

African-American

  • About one in three African-Americans — 35 percent — reported having at least two credit cards. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • 49 percent of African-Americans reported not having a credit card. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • 26 percent of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not paying all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number is at 51 percent.  (Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 2009 Financial Literacy Survey, April 2009)
  • In 2004, of those with credit cards, 84 percent of African-American households carried credit card debt compared with 54 percent of white households. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
  • Over 90 percent of African-American families earning between $10,000 and $24,999 had credit card debt. (Source: Demos.org study, November 2007)

Elderly

  • About 50 percent of households headed by someone between 55 and 64 carry credit card debt. And 37 percent of those headed by someone between 65 and 74 carry credit card debt.   (Source: Federal Reserve, “Survey of Consumer Finances,” February 2009)
  • in 1991, people 55 and older accounted for 8.2 percent of bankruptcy filings. By 2007, that number had almost tripled to 22.3 percent.  (Source: AARP, “Generations of Struggle,” June 2008)
  • Three in four cardholders age 60 or older always paid their credit card in full in the past 12 months. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • 80 percent of Americans 65 or older indicated they used a credit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. That’s 13 points higher than any other age group. They also used debit cards far less than other age groups. Only 47 percent of those over 65 said they had used a debit card in the month before the survey, 19 points lower than any other age group. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • In the fourth quarter of 2008, consumers over 60 had an average balance of $763 per open bankcard or retail accounts. A year before, that balance was $746. The year before that, it was $735 — meaning the average has jumped about 4 percent in 2 years. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • Individuals older than 60 have a significantly higher credit score than younger consumers. The U.S. average VantageScore® is 769. The average score rises to 837 when looking solely at the over-60 population. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)
  • In the fourth quarter of 2008, consumers over 60 had an average of 5.6 open bankcard and retail accounts. The U.S. population as a whole had an average of 5.4 cards. A year before, those over 60 had 6.1 open cards and the population as a whole had 5.5. The year before that, those over 60 had 6.2 open cards and the population as a whole had 5.5. (Source: Experian marketing insight snapshot, March 2009)

Gender

  • Women were 26 percent more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men in 2008. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2009 study.)

Hispanics

  • About half of Hispanics — 44 percent — reported having at least two credit cards. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • 42 percent of Hispanics reported having no credit cards. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • 58 percent of Hispanics have not used a credit card in the past 30 days. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • 42 percent of Hispanics don’t like the idea of being in debt. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • 31 percent of Hispanics typically pay cash for their purchases. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)

Young adults

  • The average person under the age of 35 got both their first credit card and their first debit card when they were about 21 years old. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • 41 percent of cardholders from the ages of 18 to 29 made only the minimum required payment on a credit card in some of the past 12 months. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • Just 51 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 indicated they had used a credit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. 71 percent of that age group said that they had used a debit card in the same period. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • Only 2 percent of undergraduates had no credit history. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Eighty-four percent of the student population overall have credit cards, an increase of approximately 11 percent since the fall of 2004. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average (mean) balance grew to $3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s $946 to $1,645. Twenty-one percent of undergraduates had balances of between $3,000 and $7,000, also up from the last study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Half of college undergraduates had four or more credit cards in 2008. That’s up from 43 percent in 2004 and just 32 percent in 2000.  (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Since 2004, students who arrived on campus as freshmen with a credit card already in-hand have increased from 23 percent to 39 percent. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • In spring of 2008, only 15 percent of freshmen had a zero balance, down dramatically from 69 percent in the fall of 2004. The median debt freshmen carried was $939, nearly triple the $373 in 2004. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Seniors graduated with an average credit card debt of more than $4,100, up from $2,900 almost four years ago. Close to one-fifth of seniors carried balances greater than $7,000. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Nine in 10 undergraduates reported paying for direct education expenses with credit cards—and the average amount they charged more than doubled since the last study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Ninety-two percent of undergraduate credit cardholders charged textbooks, school supplies, or other direct education expenses, up from 85 percent when the study was last conducted, in 2004.  (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Nearly one-third (30 percent) put tuition on their credit card, an increase from 24 percent in the previous study. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Students who used credit cards to pay for direct education expenses estimated charging $2,200, more than double 2004’s average of $942. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Sixty percent of undergrads experienced surprise at how high their balance had reached, and 40 percent said they have charged items knowing they didn’t have the money to pay the bill. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Only 17 percent said they regularly paid off all cards each month, and another 1 percent had parents, a spouse, or other family members paying the bill. The remaining 82 percent carried balances and thus incurred finance charges each month. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents said they had frequently or sometimes discussed credit card use with their parents. The remaining one-third who had never or only rarely discussed credit cards with parents were more likely to pay for tuition with a credit card and were more likely to be surprised at their credit card balance when they received the invoice. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • Eighty-four percent of undergraduates indicated they needed more education on financial management topics. In fact, 64 percent would have liked to receive information in high school and 40 percent as college freshmen. (Source: Sallie Mae, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” April 2009)
  • One-fourth of the students surveyed in US PIRG’s 2008 Campus Credit Card Trap report said that they have paid a late fee, and 15 percent have paid an “over the limit” fee. (Source: U.S. PIRG, “Campus Credit Card Trap”)
  • 74 percent of monthly college spending is with cash and debit cards. Only 7 percent is with credit cards. (Source: Student Monitor annual financial services survey of current college students, 2008)
  • The average college graduate has nearly $20,000 in debt; average credit card debt has increased 47 percent between 1989 and 2004 for 25-to 34-year-olds and 11 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds. Nearly one in five 18- to 24-year-olds is in “debt hardship,” up from 12 percent in 1989. (Source: Demos.org, “The Economic State of Young America,” May 2008)

Other

  • 76 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 indicated they had used a debit card in the month preceding the September 2008 survey. 63 percent of that age group said that had used a credit card in the same period. (Source: Javelin, “Credit Card Spending Declines” study, March 2009)
  • Americans older than 50 are more likely to have a credit card than those 25 to 49 years old, but tend to use them less frequently. (Source: AARP payments study, 2007)
  • In 2005, older consumers were significantly less likely to be victims of the ID frauds covered in the survey. While 15.4 percent of those who were between 35 and 44 years of age were victims of one or more of the frauds in the survey, the rate falls by to 11.0 percent for those between 55 and 64 and to 10.4 percent for those between 65 and 74. Of those who were at least 75 years of age, only 5.6 percent were victims. (Source: Federal Trade Commission survey, October 2007)
  • Hispanics were 50 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have been a victim of fraud in 2005, with 18.0 percent of Hispanics estimated to have been a victim of one or more frauds. (Source: Federal Trade Commission survey, October 2007)
  • Discussing credit card debt is highly taboo. The topics at the top of the list of things that people say they are very or somewhat unlikely to talk openly about with someone they just met were: The amount of credit card debt (81 percent); details of your love life (81 percent); your salary (77 percent); the amount you pay for your monthly mortgage or rent (72 percent); your health problems (62 percent); your weight (50 percent). (Source: CreditCards.com research, January 2009)

Fees

Credit cards

  • Penalty fees from credit cards will add up to about $20.5 billion in 2009, according to R. K. Hammer, a consultant to the credit card industry. (Source: New York Times, September 2009)
  • From 1989 to 2004, the percentage of cardholders incurring fees due to late payments of 60 days or more increased from 4.8 percent to 8.0 percent. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
  • One-fourth of the students surveyed in US PIRG’s 2008 Campus Credit Card Trap report said that they have paid a late fee, and 15 percent have paid an “over the limit” fee. (Source: U.S. PIRG, “Campus Credit Card Trap”)
  • In the first 3 months of 2009, 27 percent of card offers carried an annual fee, up from 18 percent in 2008, according to the financial research firm Tower Group. (Source: ConsumerReports.org Money Blog, August 2009)
  • Thirty-one of the 39 credit cards did not charge an annual fee. That marked a larger number of credit cards with no annual fee than in 2008, when 35 of 41cards had no annual fee. The cost of those fees ranged from $18 to $150. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2009)
  • The average late fee was found to have risen to $28.19, way up from $25.90 in 2008. Consumer Action reported that late fees reached up to $39 per incident. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2009)
  • 92 percent of cards included a fee for exceeding the credit limit, including 100 percent of all student cards. The amount of the overlimit fee is $39 on most accounts. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • 64 percent of respondents said having “no annual fee” was an important reason why they chose the credit card they did the last time they got a new card. (Source: Aite Group survey, January 2008)
  • 95 percent of surveyed issuers have over-limit fees. The average over-limit fee, among institutions with over-limit fees, is $29.13. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2008.)

Debit cards


History

  • The first widely accepted plastic charge card was issued in 1958 by American Express.
  • The first general-use credit card that allowed balances to be paid over time was the BankAmericard (which in 1977 changed its name to Visa), issued in 1959. (Sources: PBS Frontline; American Express, Visa USA)
  • How did MasterCard begin? In 1966, a number of banks formed the Interbank Card Association. In 1969, the Interbank Card Association bought the rights to use “Master Charge” from the California Bank Association. It was renamed MasterCard in 1979. (Source: MasterCard.com)

Identity theft, fraud

  • The number of U.S. identity fraud victims rose 12 percent to 11.1 million adults last year, the highest level since the survey began in 2003. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, “Identity Fraud Survey Report,” February 2010)
  • The average fraud resolution time dropped 30 percent to 21 hours. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, “Identity Fraud Survey Report,” February 2010)
  • Nearly half of fraud victims now file police reports, resulting in double the reported arrests, triple the prosecutions and double the percentage of convictions in 2009. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, “Identity Fraud Survey Report,” February 2010)
  • The number of U.S. identity fraud victims increased 22 percent in 2008 to 9.9 million adults. However, the total annual fraud amount jumped just 7 percent to $48 billion. The report said this is because “consumers and businesses are detecting and resolving fraud more quickly.” (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2009 study.)
  • Women were 26 percent more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men in 2008. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2009 study.)
  • 71 percent of fraud incidents “began occurring in less than one week from when the data was first stolen, up from 33 percent in 2005.” (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2009 study.)
  • “Lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks and credit and debit cards” made up 43 percent of all ID theft incidents in which the “method of access” was known. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2009 study.)
  • Credit and debit card fraud is the No. 1 fear of Americans in the midst of the global financial crisis. Concern about fraud supersedes that of terrorism, computer and health viruses and personal safety. (Source: Unisys Security Index: United States, March 2009)
  • Arizona leads the nation in identity theft complaints per 100,000 people. In 2008, the state had 149 complaints about ID theft per 100,000 people. California (139.1), Florida (133.3), Texas (130.3) and Nevada (126.0) rounded out the top five. (Source: Federal Trade Commission, February 2009 survey)
  • South Dakota has the fewest identity theft complaints per 100,000 people in the nation. In 2008, the state had 33.8 complaints about ID theft per 100,000 people. North Dakota (35.7), Iowa (44.9), Montana (46.5) and Wyoming (46.9) rounded out the bottom five. (Source: Federal Trade Commission, February 2009 survey)
  • Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, is the metropolitan area with the largest number of ID theft complaints per 100,000 people. In 2008, the area had 366.8 complaints per 100,000 people. Napa, Calif., was second with 351.3. (Source: Federal Trade Commission, February 2009 survey)
* – Calculated by dividing the total revolving debt in the U.S. ($793.1 billion as of May 2011 data, as listed in the Federal Reserve’s July 2011 report on consumer credit) by the estimated number of households carrying credit card debt (50.2 million)

Interest rates/APRs

  • 36 percent of respondents said they didn’t know the interest rate on the card they use most often. (Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, “Financial Capability in the United States,” December 2009)
  • The national average default rate as January 2010 stood at 27.88 percent and the mean default rate is 28.99 percent. (Source: CreditCards.com survey, January 2010)
  • Slightly more than half of Americans — 51 percent — said that in the past 12 months, they carried over a balance and was charged interest on a credit card. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • 93 percent of cards allowed the issuer to raise any interest rate at any time by changing the account agreement. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • Only eight percent of cards with penalty rate conditions offered to restore the original rate terms when payments are made on-time, usually after 12 months. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • 72 percent of cards included offers of low promotional rates which  issuers could revoke after a single late payment. (Source: Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, March 2009)
  • Among 39 credit cards Consumer Action looked at from 22 financial institutions, the average interest rate for purchases was 12.83 percent. That’s a drop of more half a point from the 2008 survey results. Interest rates on purchases ranged from 4.25 percent to 22.99 percent, with the fixed rate credit cards averaging an interest rate of 10.03 percent and the variable rate credit cards averaging 13.20 percent. (Source: Consumer Action credit card survey, July 2009)
  • Average APR on new credit card offer: 14.10 percent (Source: CreditCards.com Weekly Rate Report, May 2010.)
  • Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 14.67 percent, as of February, 2010 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, May 2010)

Issuers/networks

Circulation

Total cards in circulation in U.S.
(Through year-end 2011, unless otherwise noted)

  • American Express credit: 50.6 million — up from 48.9 million at yearend 2010 (Source: AmericanExpress.com)
  • MasterCard credit: 176 million — up from 143 million at yearend 2010 (Source: MasterCard) 
  • MasterCard debit: 129 million — up from 119 million at yearend 2010 (Source: MasterCard)
  • Visa credit: 261 million as of Sept. 30, 2011 — down from 269 million, as of Sept. 30, 2010 (Source: Visa)
  • Visa debit: 392 million as of Sept. 30, 2011 — down from 399 million, as of Sept. 30, 2010 (Source: Visa)
  • Discover cards: Unavailable

 


Online use

  • Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said they have logged into their credit card account via the Internet. (Source: ComScore, December 2009)

 


Payment trends

  • About 6 percent of consumers have used a prepaid card in the past months. About 9 percent have used one in the past year. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 69 percent of consumers have used a credit card in the last month. About 73 percent have used one in the past year. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 56 percent of consumers carried an unpaid balance in the past 12 months. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 45 percent of consumers said their unpaid credit card balance had gotten “lower” or “much lower” in the past 12 months. Only 26 percent said it had gotten “higher” or “much higher.” (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • “More consumers now have debit cards than credit cards, and consumers use debit cards more often than cash, credit cards, or checks individually.” (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Nearly one in three Americans — 29 percent — said that in some of the past 12 months, they paid only the minimum payment on their credit cards. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • More than half of Americans — 54 percent — said that in the past 12 months, they always paid their credit cards in full. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • 41 percent of cardholders from the ages of 18 to 29 made only the minimum required payment on a credit card in some of the past 12 months. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • Three in four cardholders age 60 or older always paid their credit card in full in the past 12 months. (Source: “Financial Capability in the United States,” FINRA Investor Education Foundation, December 2009)
  • 26 percent of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not paying all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number is at 51 percent.  (Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 2009 Financial Literacy Survey, April 2009)
  • The average credit card-indebted family in 2004 allocated 21 percent of its income to servicing monthly debt compared to the 13 percent dedicated to debt payments among all households. (Source: Demos.org, “Borrowing To Make Ends Meet,” November 2007)
    58 percent of Hispanics have not used a credit card in the past 30 days. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • 31 percent of Hispanics typically pay cash for their purchases. (Source: Experian Consumer Research study, November 2008)
  • When finances are tight, 59 percent of people would pay their credit card bills last. A majority — 52 percent — would pay the mortgage first and 38 percent say they would pay for utilities before paying other obligations. (Source: CreditCards.com survey, December 2008)
  • 41 percent of college students have a credit card. Of the students with cards, about 65 percent pay their bills in full every month, which is higher than the general adult population. (Source: Student Monitor annual financial services study, 2008)
  • 27 percent of U.S. families had no credit cards in 2007. (Source: Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances, February 2009)
  • One in six families with credit cards pays only the minimum due every month. (Source: Experian national score index study, February 2007)
  • Of every $100 spent by consumers, nearly $40 is in a form other than cash or check. (Source: Visa USA internal statistics, 4th quarter 2006)
  • 28 percent of those surveyed say their ability to pay off their credit card balance has become more difficult. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, “Credit Card Issuer Profitability in a Difficult Economy,” July 2008)

Prepaid cards

Circulation

  • The total amount loaded for prepaid cards in 2008 (including both open-loop cards — which are general purpose cards that carry the American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa logo and can be used wherever those cards are accepted — and closed-loop cards — which can only be used in specific places) was $247.7 billion, a $27.8 billion increase over the $220.27 billion load in 2007. That’s an increase of 12.4 percent.
    (Source: Mercator Advisory Group, “6th Annual Network Branded Prepaid Market Assessment,” September 2009)
  • Open-loop gift cards (general purpose cards that carry the American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa logo and can be used wherever those cards are accepted) continue to grow in popularity. $60.42 billion was loaded on to open-loop prepaid cards in 2008, a 54.3 percent increase from 2007.
    (Source: Mercator Advisory Group, “6th Annual Network Branded Prepaid Market Assessment,” September 2009)

Fees

Purchase/transaction volume

Other statistics:

  • Eighty percent of consumers currently own a debit card, compared to 78 percent who own a credit card and 17 who own a prepaid card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • About 6 percent of consumers have used a prepaid card in the past months. About 9 percent have used one in the past year. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Eighty percent of consumers currently own a debit card, compared to 78 percent who own a credit card and 17 who own a prepaid card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)

Rewards

  • More than one third of consumers choose which card to use in order to maximize card rewards. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents said they would consider switching their primary credit card if a better feature were offered. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)
  • Among customers who said they would consider switching cards based on better rewards, more than two thirds (68 percent) said that cash back would be most influential in getting them to switch. (Source: ComScore, September 2008)

Circulation

  • About 60 percent of consumers have a rewards credit card. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
  • Visa says rewards cards now make up more than half of all credit cards and about 80 percent of money spent on a credit card. (Source: Aite Group, January 2008)
  • Consumers say rewards are the second-most important reason for choosing to apply for a specific card, behind no annual fees and ahead of low interest rates.  (Source: Aite Group survey, January 2008)

Total purchases/transactions

Issuer purchase volume
(Through year-end 2010)

  • American Express: $131.1 billion (Source: American Express)
  • Discover cards: $92.5 billion (Source: Discover)
  • MasterCard credit: $479 billion (Source: MasterCard) 
  • MasterCard debit: $333 billion (Source: MasterCard)
  • Visa credit: $809 billion (Source: Visa)
  • Visa debit: $1.05 trillion (Source: Visa)

Issuer transaction volume
(Through year-end 2010)

  • American Express: Doesn’t disclose publicly
  • Discover cards: Unavailable
  • MasterCard credit: 5.85 billion (Source: MasterCard) 
  • MasterCard debit: 8.46 billion (Source: MasterCard)
  • Visa credit: 9.4 billion (Source: Visa)
  • Visa debit: 28.6 billion (Source: Visa)

Other

  • Today, credit cards are responsible for more than $2.5 trillion in transactions a year and are accepted at more than 24 million locations in more than 200 countries and territories. (Source: American Bankers Association, March 2009)
  • Between 1989 and 2006, the nation’s total credit card charges increased from about $69 billion a year to more than $1.8 trillion. (Source: Demos.org, April 2008)
  • It is estimated that there are 10,000 payment card transactions made every second around the world. (Source: American Bankers Association, March 2009)
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