How to spot the future

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Thirty years ago, when John Naisbitt was writing Megatrends, his prescient vision of America’s future, he used a simple yet powerful tool to spot new ideas that were bubbling in the zeitgeist: the newspaper. He didn’t just read it, though. He took out a ruler and measured it. The more column inches a particular topic earned over time, the more likely it represented an emerging trend. “The collective news hole,” Naisbitt wrote, “becomes a mechanical representation of society sorting out its priorities”—and he used that mechanism to predict the information society, globalism, decentralization, and the rise of networks.

As clever as Naisbitt’s method was, it would never work today. There’s an infinite amount of ink and pixels spilled on most any topic. These days, spotting the future requires a different set of tools. That’s why at Wired, where we constantly endeavor to pinpoint the inventions and trends that will define the future, we have developed our own set of rules. They allow us to size up ideas and separate the truly world-changing from the merely interesting. After 20 years of watching how technology creates a bold and better tomorrow, we have seen some common themes emerge, patterns that have fostered the most profound innovations of our age.

This may sound like a paradox. Surely technology always promises something radically new, wholly unexpected, and unlike anything anybody has seen before. But in fact even when a product or service breaks new ground, it’s usually following a familiar trajectory. After all, the factors governing thermodynamics, economics, and human interaction don’t change that much. And they provide an intellectual platform that has allowed technology to succeed on a massive scale, to organize, to accelerate, to connect.

So how do we spot the future—and how might you? The seven rules that follow are not a bad place to start. They are the principles that underlie many of our contemporary innovations. Odds are that any story in our pages, any idea we deem potentially transformative, any trend we think has legs, draws on one or more of these core principles. They have played a major part in creating the world we see today. And they’ll be the forces behind the world we’ll be living in tomorrow.

1. Look for cross-pollinators.

It’s no secret that the best ideas—the ones with the most impact and longevity—are transferable; an innovation in one industry can be exported to transform another. But even more resonant are those ideas that are cross-disciplinary not just in their application but in their origin.

This notion goes way back. When the mathematician John von Neumann applied mathematics to human strategy, he created game theory—and when he crossed physics and engineering, he helped hatch both the Manhattan Project and computer science. His contemporary Buckminster Fuller drew freely from engineering, economics, and biology to tackle problems in transportation, architecture, and urban design.

Sometimes the cross-pollination is potent enough to create entirely new disciplines. This is what happened when Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky started to fuse psychology and economics in the 1970s. They were trying to understand why people didn’t behave rationally, despite the assumption by economists that they would do so. It was a question that economists had failed to answer for decades, but by cross-breeding economics with their own training as psychologists, Kahneman and Tversky were able to shed light on what motivates people. The field they created—behavioral economics—is still growing today, informing everything from US economic policy to the produce displays at Whole Foods.

More recently, the commonalities between biology and digital technology—code is code, after all—have inspired a new generation to reach across specialties and create a range of new cross-bred disciplines: bioinformatics, computational genomics, synthetic biology, systems biology. All these fields view biology as a technology that can be manipulated and industrialized. As Rob Carlson, founder of Biodesic and a pioneer in this arena, puts it, “The technology we use to manipulate biological systems is now experiencing the same rapid improvement that has produced today’s computers, cars, and airplanes.” These similarities and common toolsets can accelerate the pace of innovation.

The same goes for old industries, as well. The vitality we see in today’s car industry resulted from the recognition that auto manufacturing isn’t a singular industry siloed in Detroit. In the past decade, car companies have gone from occasionally dispatching ambassadors to Silicon Valley to opening lab space there—and eagerly incorporating ideas from information technology and robotics into their products. When Ford CEO Alan Mulally talks about cars as the “all-time mobile application,” he’s not speaking figuratively—he’s trying to reframe the identity of his company and the industry. That’s testimony to a wave of cross-pollination that will blur the line between personal electronics and automobiles.

The point here is that by drawing on threads from several areas, interdisciplinary pioneers can weave together a stronger, more robust notion that exceeds the bounds of any one field. (One caveat: Real cross-pollination is literal, not metaphorical. Be wary of flimflam futurists who spin analogies and draw equivalences without actually identifying common structures and complementary systems).

Photo: Brock DavisCross-pollination can be potent enough to generate entirely new disciplines.
Photo: Brock Davis

2. Surf the exponentials.

Some trends are so constant, they verge on cliché. Just mentioning Moore’s law can cause eyes to roll, but that overfamiliarity doesn’t make Gordon Moore’s 1965 insight—that chips will steadily, exponentially get smaller, cheaper, faster—any less remarkable. Not only has it been the engine of the information age, it has also given us good reason to believe in our capacity to invent our future, not just submit to it. After all, Moore’s law doesn’t know which silicon innovation will take us to the next level. It just says that if the previous 50 years are any indication, something will come along. And so far, it always has.

Moore’s law has been joined by—and has itself propelled—exponential progress in other technologies: in networks, sensors, and data storage (the first iPod, in 2001, offered 5 gigabytes for $399, while today’s “classic” model offers 160 gigs for $249, a 51-fold improvement). Each of these cyclically improving technologies creates the opportunity to “surf exponentials,” in the words of synthetic biologist Drew Endy—to catch the wave of smaller, cheaper, and faster and to channel that steady improvement into business plans and research agendas.

This was the great insight that inspired YouTube, when cofounder Jawed Karim realized (while reading Wired, it so happens) that broadband was becoming so cheap and ubiquitous that it was on the verge of disrupting how people watched videos. And it’s what Dropbox did with digital storage. As the cost of disc space was dropping at an exponential rate, Dropbox provided a service capitalizing on that phenomenon, offering to store people’s data in the cloud, gratis. In 2007 the two free gigabytes the company offered were really worth something. These days 2 gigs is a pittance, but it remains enough of a lure that people are still signing up in droves—some fraction of whom then upgrade to the paid service and more storage.

And it’s what allowed Fitbit to outdo Nike+. As accelerometers dropped in cost and size, Fitbit could use them to measure not just jogging, but any activity where movement matters, from walking to sleep. For all its marketing muscle, Nike didn’t recognize that accelerometers were the dynamo of a personal health revolution. The new FuelBand shows that the company has now caught on, but Fitbit recognized the bigger trend first.

Exponentials, it turns out, are everywhere. Just choose one, look where it leads, and take a ride.

3. Favor the liberators.

Liberation comes in two flavors. First are those who recognize an artificial scarcity and move to eliminate it by creating access to goods. See the MP3 revolutionaries who untethered music from the CD, or the BitTorrent anti-tyrannists who created real video-on-demand.

Sometimes, of course, the revolution takes longer than expected. Back in 1993, George Gilder pointed out in these pages that the cost of bandwidth was plummeting so fast as to be imminently free. Gilder’s vision has been proven correct, paving the way for Netflix and Hulu. And yet telcos are today—still!—trying to throttle bandwidth. But this is just biding time on the scaffold. In the words of investor Fred Wilson, “scarcity is a shitty business model.”

The second flavor of liberation takes a more subtle approach to turning scarcity into plenty. These liberators use the advent of powerful software to put fallow infrastructure to work. Think of how Netflix piggybacked on a national distribution infrastructure by having the US Postal Service carry its red envelopes. Or how the founders of Airbnb recognized our homes as a massive stock of underutilized beds, ready to be put into the lodging market. Or how Uber turns idling drivers into on-call icons on a Google map, blipping their way to you in mere minutes. Reid Hoffman, the philosopher-investor, describes these companies as bringing liquidity to locked-up assets. He means this in the financial sense of “liquidity,” the ability to turn capital into currency, but it also works in a more evocative sense. These companies turn static into flow, bringing motion where there was obstruction.

What’s it like to live in the future? Ask an Uber driver—these guys are electrons pulsing through a real-life network, and they’re delighted by it. So should we all be.

Photo: Brock DavisThe best companies are liberators. They bring motion where there was obstruction.
Photo: Brock Davis

4. Give points for audacity.

When “big hairy audacious goal” entered the lexicon in 1994 (courtesy of Built to Last, the management tome by James Collins and Jerry Porras), it applied to ambitious executives eager to set high targets for annual revenue growth and increased market share. Yawn. But the term—shortened to BHAG—also coincided with the birth of the web, when innovators began to posit a whole new sort of audacity: to make every book, in every language, available in less than a minute; to organize all the world’s information; or to make financial transactions frictionless and transparent.

Audacity is easily written off as naïveté, as overshooting your resources or talents. And that’s a danger. Plenty of would-be Napoleons have called for revolutions that never found an army. But you can’t make the future without imagining what it might look like.

Too much of the technology world is trying to build clever solutions to picayune problems. Better parking apps or restaurant finders might appeal to venture capitalists looking for a niche, but they are not ideas that seed revolutions. Instead, take a lesson from Tesla Motors, which had the pluck to spend $42 million of its precious capital to buy a factory roughly the size of the Pentagon, stock it with state-of-the-art robots, and begin making wholly viable electric cars. Or look to Square, which has pronounced the cash register a counter-cluttering vestige of the 19th century and created an alternative that will not only make buying things easier but will deliver retailers from their sclerotic relationship with credit card companies.

These times especially call for more than mere incrementalism. Let’s demand that our leaders get in over their heads, that they remain a little bit naive about what they’re getting into. As venture capitalist Peter Thiel told wired two years ago, “Am I right and early, or am I just wrong? You always have to wonder.” This kind of willingness to take a chance and be early is what keeps the world moving.

5. Bank on openness.

In 1997 Wired’s founding executive editor, Kevin Kelly, wrote a story called “New Rules for the New Economy” (it was in many ways the inspiration for this very piece). His focus was on networks, the “thickening web” that was forging connections of catalytic power. Many of his radical rules have become commonalities today, but two of them are just coming into their own: Connected individuals with shared interests and goals, he argued, create “virtuous circles” that can produce remarkable returns for any company that serves their needs. And organizations that “let go at the top”—forsaking proprietary claims and avoiding hierarchy—will be agile, flexible, and poised to leap from opportunity to opportunity, sacrificing short-term payoffs for long-term prosperity. Since Kelly wrote his piece, these forces have flourished. Back then open source software was a programming kibbutz, good for creating a hippy-dippy operating system but nothing that could rival the work of Oracle or Microsoft. Today open source is the default choice for corporations from IBM to Google. Even Microsoft is on board, evangelizing Hadoop and Python and opening the Xbox Kinect controller so it can be a platform for artists and roboticists. Supported by coder clubhouses like SourceForge and GitHub, collaborative circles can emerge with stunning spontaneity, responding elastically to any programming need.

More tellingly, in many organizations openness itself has become a philosophical necessity, the catalyst that turns one employee’s lark into a billion-dollar business. Companies from Lego to Twitter have created a product and then called on its users to chart its course, allowing virtuous circles to multiply and flourish. Time after time, the open option has prevailed, as Zipcar has gained on Hertz and users have upvoted Reddit over Digg.

The best example may be nearly invisible, even to a dedicated user of the Internet: blogging platforms. Less than a decade ago there were a multitude of services competing for the emerging legion of bloggers: Movable Type, TypePad, Blogger, WordPress. Today, only the last two remain relevant, and of these, the small, scrappy WordPress is the champ. WordPress prevailed for several reasons. For one, it was free and fantastically easy to install, allowing an aspiring blogger (or blogging company) to get off the ground in hours. Users who wanted a more robust design or additional features could turn to a community of fellow users who had created tools to meet their own needs. And that community didn’t just useWordPress—many made money on it by selling their designs and plug-ins. Their investment of time and resources emboldened others, and soon the WordPress community was stronger than any top-down business model forged inside the walls of their competition.

Sure, there are Apples and Facebooks that thrive under the old rules of walled gardens and monocultures. But even they try to tap into openness (albeit on their own terms) by luring developers to the App Store and the Open Graph. And for all the closed-world success of these companies, the world at large is moving the other way: toward transparency, collaboration, and bottom-up innovation. True openness requires trust, and that’s not available as a plug-in. When transparency is just a marketing slogan, people can see right through it.

Photo: Brock DavisSet audacious goals—and don’t worry about getting in over your head.
Photo: Brock Davis

6. Demand deep design.

Too often in technology, design is applied like a veneer after the hard work is done. That approach ignores how essential design is in our lives. Our lives are beset by clutter, not just of physical goods but of ideas and options and instructions—and design, at its best, lets us prioritize. Think of a supremely honed technology: the book. It elegantly organizes information, delivering it in a compact form, easily scanned asynchronously or in one sitting. The ebook is a worthy attempt to reverse-engineer these qualities—a process that has taken decades and chewed up millions in capital. But still, despite the ingenuity and functionality of the Kindle and the Nook, they don’t entirely capture the charms of the original technology. Good design is hard.

Indeed, good design is much, much harder than it looks. When Target redesigned its prescription pill bottle in 2005, the improvement was instantly recognizable—an easy-to-read label that plainly explains what the pill is and when to take it. It was a why-didn’t-I-think-of-it innovation that begged to be replicated elsewhere. But judging by the profusion of products and labels that continue to baffle consumers, it has been largely ignored. Same with Apple: The company’s design imperative is forever cited as intrinsic to its success, but Apple still stands curiously alone as a company where engineers integrate design into the bones of its products.

Thankfully, we are on the verge of a golden age of design, where the necessary tools and skills—once such limited resources—are becoming automated and available to all of us. This timing is critical. “Too much information” has become the chorus of complaint from all quarters, and the cure is not more design but deeper design, design that filters complexity into accessible units of comprehension and utility. Forget Apple’s overpraised hardware aesthetic; its greatest contribution to industrial design was to recognize that nobody reads user’s manuals. So it pretty much eliminated them. You can build as many stunning features into a product as you like; without a design that makes them easy to use, they may as well be Easter eggs.

No company has managed this better than Facebook, which outstripped MySpace because it offered constraint over chaos and rigor over randomness. Facebook has tweaked its interface half a dozen times over the years, but it has never lost the essential functionality that users expect. Indeed, its redesigns have been consistently purposeful. Each time, the company’s goal has been to nudge users to share a little more information, to connect a little more deeply. And so every change has offered tools for users to better manage their information, making it easier to share, organize, and access the detritus of our lives. Privacy concerns aside, Facebook has helped people bring design into their lives as never before, letting us curate our friends, categorize our family photos, and bring (at least the appearance of) continuity to our personal histories. Services like Pinterest only make this more explicit. They promise to let us organize our interests and inspirations into a clear, elegant form. They turn us into designers and our daily experience into a lifelong project of curation. This is deep design commoditized—the expertise of IDEO without the pricey consulting contract. And done right, it is irresistible.

7. Spend time with time wasters.

The classic business plan imposes efficiency on an inefficient market. Where there is waste, there is opportunity. Dispatch the engineers, route around the problem, and boom—opportunity seized.

That’s a great way to make money, but it’s not necessarily a way to find the future. A better signal, perhaps, is to look at where people—individuals—are being consciously, deliberately, enthusiastically inefficient. In other words, where are they spending their precious time doing something that they don’t have to do? Where are they fiddling with tools, coining new lingo, swapping new techniques? That’s where culture is created. The classic example, of course, is the Homebrew Computer Club—the group of Silicon Valley hobbyists who traded circuits and advice in the 1970s, long before the actual utility of personal computers was evident. Out of this hacker collective grew the first portable PC and, most famously, Apple itself.

This same phenomenon—people playing—has spurred various industries, from videogames (thank you, game modders) to the social web (thank you, oversharers). Today, inspired dissipation is everywhere. The maker movement is merging bits with atoms, combining new tools (3-D printing) with old ones (soldering irons). The DIY bio crowd is using off-the-shelf techniques and bargain-basement lab equipment, along with a dose of PhD know-how, to put biology into garage lab experiments. And the Quantified Self movement is no longer just Bay Area self-tracking geeks. It has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, as millions of people turn their daily lives into measurable experiments.

The phenomenon of hackathons, meanwhile, converts free time into a development platform. Hackathons harness the natural enthusiasm of code junkies, aim it at a target, and create a partylike competition atmosphere to make innovation fun. (And increasingly hackathons are drawing folks other than coders.) No doubt there will be more such eruptions of excitement, as the tools become easier, cheaper, and more available.

These rules don’t create the future, and they don’t guarantee success for those who use them. But they do give us a glimpse around the corner, a way to recognize that in this idea or that person, there might be something big.

Thomas Goetz (thomas@wired.comis the executive editor of Wired.

Categories: Uncategorized

More stat’s on Credit Cards than you ever wanted

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

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)
Categories: Uncategorized

Apple please help!

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

We clearly need Apple to help out and redesign this one.  But I like the idea.

Categories: Uncategorized

CoreLogic’s shadow inventory

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

 

 

Other key data points CoreLogic:

• As of January 2012, shadow inventory remained at 1.6 million units, or 6-months’ supply and represented half of the 3 million properties currently seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or REO.
• Of these 1.6 million properties, 800,000 units are seriously delinquent (3.1-months’ supply), 410,000 are in some stage of foreclosure (1.6-months’ supply) and 400,000 are already in REO (1.6-months’ supply).
• Florida, California and Illinois account for more than a third of the shadow inventory.
• The top six states, which would also include New York, Texas and New Jersey, account for half of the shadow inventory.
• The shadow inventory is approximately four times higher than its low point (380,000 properties) at the peak of the housing bubble in mid-2006.
• Despite 3 million distressed sales since January 2009, the period when home prices were declining at their fastest rate, the shadow inventory in January 2012 is at the same level as January 2009.
• The shadow inventory is approximately half of the size of all visible inventory listings. For every two homes available for sale, there is one home in the “shadows.”
• The segment of borrowers that were 60+ days delinquent in the past but were “cured” and are now current on their payments is increasing. This figure was 7.2 percent in January 2012 up from 5.7percent a year ago.
• The total percent of borrowers who were ever 60+ days delinquent (irrespective of delinquency status today) increased to 15.5 percent in January 2012, up from 14.3 percent a year ago.
• The highest concentration of shadow inventory is for loans with loan balances between $100,000 and $125,000 (Figure 5).
• More importantly while the overall supply of homes in the shadow inventory is declining versus a year ago, the declines are being driven by higher balance loans. For loans with balances of $75,000 or less, however, the shadow is still growing and is up 3 percent from a year ago.

Categories: Uncategorized

Who’s Reading What and Where

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Categories: Uncategorized

Presidential Approval Rating over term Cycles

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Check out Congressional approval vs. Presidential.  Congressional is at all time lows vs. Presidential is declining but still at 45%.  Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, George Bush Sr. and Jr. all have been at 45%.

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Prioritize Your PPC Analysis for Awesome Results

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

, March 20, 2012

Where do you start the analysis process when you detect an issue with your PPC account? How do you determine the root cause of a performance downturn? Answering these questions incorrectly could you lead down a rabbit hole of aimless stats that provide no real solutions.

Once you have established a hypothesis on what has happened to performance, then you need to dig into the stats. Diving straight into the minutia (such as keyword level data) can cause confusion, slow down your ability identify the issue, and cause you to miss other (more important) issues within the account.

Analysis prioritization is critical when diagnosing an ailing account. Knowing where to look within an account for optimization opportunities is just as important as knowing what to do when these opportunities are discovered.

Start at the Top

Initiate your analysis at the highest level of your account. Normally this means at the campaign level. For example, if your CPA is over goal, then you need to concentrate on the campaign that is hindering your performance most.

You should focus on the campaign with the most volume that is providing the weakest returns. Optimizing a campaign with a high CPA that only generates 3 percent of your volume isn’t going to influence your account, but focusing the campaign that produces 24 percent of your volume makes more sense.

Work your way down from the campaign level, into ad groups, ad texts, keywords (for search network campaigns) and placements (for display network campaigns).

campaign-network-ad-group-ad-text-keyword-site-inverted-pyramid

Review the Trending

Don’t base your analysis on a handful of clicks or conversions. Any campaign/ad group/keyword can have a bad day or even a bad week. There can be external factors that influence performance such as seasonal cycles or shifts in the competitive landscape. Determine if the lagging performance looks temporary or if it’s indicative of a bigger problem.

Run a trending report to determine if this campaign/ad group/keyword has a declining performance. To get a snapshot you should look at stats at least two weeks before performance started to suffer.

Extend your analysis out by a month or two to get a more complete view of the trending. You may find that the performance of this particular campaign/ad group has actually been declining gradually.

Determine the Root Cause

As you conduct the trending analysis, you should also be looking for evidence indicating what has caused the issue.

For example, I was analyzing a Display Network campaign within Google AdWords recently. Our overall CPA had increased and I was trying to determine the root cause. During my reporting timeframe (two months) our impressions/clicks had remained steady, CTR hadn’t changed much and our conversion rate had fluctuated only marginally. The root cause was our CPC. It had been rising incrementally over the previous three weeks and this was causing our CPA to suffer. When I started my analysis, I was certain that my conversion rate had decreased – and I was incorrect.

Upon further investigation there were a couple of websites within our GDN distribution that had elevated CPCs. We removed those websites from our general, keyword-targeted distribution and targeted them individually with specific (lowered) bids.

Focus on the Most Impactful Changes

After conducting the trend analysis and determining what the issue’s root cause should be, you need to create a plan-of-action. Focus on the changes that will directly influence the root cause.

For example, if low CTR appears to be the underlying issue but your average position is higher than three, increasing bids isn’t going get you anywhere. To address this issue you may need to look at testing new ads, keyword segmentation, and negative keywords.

Monitor Campaign Changes

Don’t make changes within a campaign and think your work is done. Actually, it’s just beginning. You need to monitor the campaign in order make sure that the proper changes were implemented and performance is trending in the right direction.

If performance doesn’t improve, you may have made drawn the wrong conclusions; made the wrong changes; or the alterations may not have been strong enough.

Optimization efforts shouldn’t be made on the fly. A plan to analyze performance, understand stats within context, and make changes that will impact specific issues should be part of your ongoing campaign management.

To read more go to http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2161612/How-to-Prioritize-Your-PPC-Analysis-for-Awesome-Results

 

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