In today’s list of credit card statistics, we’ll be sharing some of the most interesting findings from the credit market transforming the industry today.
Credit cards are one of the most popular financial products globally, offering millions of people access to cash at the swipe of a card. According to the Credit Card Global Market Report from Research and Markets, the value of the credit card industry is growing fast, set to reach a value of $107.69 billion in 2025.
In the right circumstances, credit cards can offer versatility and flexibility for consumers, which may be why the popularity of these cards grew during the pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at the current state of the credit card market.
Key Credit Card Statistics:
- There are more than 365 million open credit cards in the US
- The average American has 3.84 credit cards on average
- The majority of consumers struggle to find the right credit card
- Balances on credit cards have fell by 4.1% since the pandemic
- Around 60.85% of Americans pay their balance statement each month
- 42% of Americans have more debt since the pandemic
- The number of new credit cards opened in 2021 was 6 million, compared to only 4.54 million in 2020
Credit Card Consumer Statistics
1. By 2021 there were 365 million open credit cards in the US
The American Bankers Association credit card monitor for 2021 revealed around 365 million credit card accounts were active and open as of 2021. The number of new accounts fell at the end of 2020 to their lowest levels in 6 years, however, and total account levels were down by 19% between the start and end of the year, demonstrating less willingness to take risks from consumers.
2. The average American has 3.84 credit cards on average
A national review of credit report data shows Americans hold around 3.84 credit cards on average – a slight reduction from 4% in 2019. The average number of credit card accounts in New York and Massachusetts dropped significantly in 2020, by around 6%. Currently, New Jersey is the location where consumers have the most credit accounts.
Around 95% of American adults now have at least one account open in their name.
3. Older generations may have more credit cards
A study by Fool.com and the Ascent found Generation Z doesn’t hold as many credit cards as most other generations – but this group may not have as much access to credit as the rest. Although most consumers have three cards or fewer, 1 in 7 have more than five credit cards.
Baby boomers appear to be the most likely to hold multiple credit cards, and in terms of gender, women are generally more likely to hold numerous credit cards (2.8) than men (2.5). Women are also more likely to have a larger number of credit cards. Around 10.11% of women had six or more cards compared to men at only 5.78%.
4. People of color are less likely to have access to credit cards in America
87% of white consumers had a credit card as of 2021, compared to 76% of Hispanics, and 72% of Black Americans. However, Asian Americans go against this trend, with 92% of Asian Americans accessing a credit card.
Asian and White Americans are more likely than any other group to have multiple credit cards according to a survey by the Ascent. Both groups have an average of 2.1 credit cards compared to 1.7 for Black Americans and 1.8 for Latinos.
5. Most consumers struggle with finding the right credit card
Experian found many consumers struggle with finding the right credit card for their needs. The biggest obstacle is finding the time to research the correct options. 69% of consumers said they considered shopping for credit cards too time-consuming.
61% of respondents said they felt overwhelmed by the number of credit card options available to them. Another 57% claimed it’s too difficult for them to tell which card they should use.
When customers do go shopping for credit cards, 37% use search engines, while 21% trust online reviews, and 17% speak to friends and family members.
6. Credit card balances have decreased since the pandemic
According to the Q2 Industry insights report for 2021 from TransUnion, credit card balances fell an average of 4.1% YoY. Reduced spending allowed consumers to put more money towards paying off their credit balances.
The average balance on credit cards among millennials fell to $4,277 in 2021, slightly less than the average of $4,471 in 2020. Additionally, similar declines could be seen in the Baby Boomer and Gen X generation. Gen Z was the only generation to see a slight rise in credit debt.
Credit Card Statistics: Card Usage
7. Adults with an income of under $100,000 with credit cards are most likely to use them to carry balances from month to month.
Almost all people with an income over $50,000 per year have a credit card, according to the Federal Reserve. Adults with an income lower than $100,000, however, are more likely to use these cards to carry balances from month to month. Middle-income credit card holders were most likely to use credit cards to finance purchases they couldn’t afford to immediately pay back.
8. Most Americans pay their statement balance each month
According to the Ascent, 60.85% of consumers paid their full or statement balance on a monthly basis. This is a significant increase from in 2019, when 66% of consumers said they carried their balance from month to month. However, around 17.25% of Americans still say they only pay the minimum balance on their bill.
9. Cash back credit cards are the most popular type of credit card
Research from the Motley Fool and The Ascent revealed cash back credit cards are the most popular type of card, with 46% of Americans owning one of these assets. Around 31% also owned a retail credit cards, and 25% owned a low-interest credit card. Only 19% of consumers owned an airline or travel credit card.
10. 45% of Americans have used a balance transfer
Around 45% of American credit card users have accessed a balance transfer to consolidate other debts. This is a 7%increase from 2019, when only 38% of consumers used this method. This could indicate more consumers are dealing with debt issues.
The generation most likely to use a balance transfer was Generation X. However, the researchers noted the number of Generation Z transfer users was quite high considering the young age of the community.
Credit Card Statistics: Credit Card Debt
11. 42% of Americans have gathered more credit card debt since the pandemic
Bankrate’s recent survey found around 42% of adults with credit card debt have increased their debt balance since the pandemic began in 2020. Among the people whose debt increased, 47% said their spending issues were directly caused by the pandemic.
The survey also found 54% of adults carry credit balance from month to month, and 50% of consumers had been in debt for at least a year.
12. Generation X carries the highest credit cards balance
In the US, it’s currently generation X which has the highest credit card balance, at around $7,236 per person. This is more than $1,000 more on average than baby boomers, who had an average balance of around $6,230. The lowest credit card debit score belonged to Generation Z, unsurprisingly, who also have a lower average credit limit due to their age.
13. The average person owes $5,525 in credit card debt
On average, people with credit card debt ow approximately $5,525. By making minimum payments only, these people will generally pay more than $6,000 in interest and be in debt for more than 16 years. This is why it’s so important to seek out the right credit card solutions.
Notably, the Ascent also found Americans in higher income brackets generally carry higher credit balances on average. However, it’s the upper-middle, and middle class who are most likely to have credit card debt overall. Among Americans in the 60th to 78th income percentiles, around 56.8% have credit card debt.
14. Alaska is the State with the highest credit card debt
Alaska is the US state with the highest credit card debt, at an average of $7.089 per person. Alaska’s credit debt level was 28% more than the national average as of 2021. The second highest credit debt average belonged to Washington DC. The state with the lowest average credit card debt is Wisconsin, at $4,587 per person.
Credit Card Statistics: The Credit Card Market
15. Americans love credit cards
Experian reports more almost 460 million credit cards are in circulation, as per insights from the NY Federal Reserve. Notably, while many people feel their relationship with credit cards is less than ideal, 64% still believe the perfect credit card is out there.
Experian also found around 1 in 3 people are planning on applying for a new credit card within the next 6 months. When asked about the biggest benefits of credit cards, 42% of consumers cited having a cushion for emergencies, while 38% said they appreciated not having to carry around cash, and 36% mentioned rewards.
16. Credit card interest rates are dropping in the US
Currently, the average interest rate for a credit card is around 16.13%. This is a significant decrease from in 2020, when the national average card APR ended February at 17.35%. The Federal Reserve could be working on making credit cards more accessible as a result of the pandemic prompting financial problems for many consumers.
Notably, the drops in credit card rates aren’t universal. In the UK, the average interest rate for a credit card exploded to 21.49% in December 2021.
17. The pandemic significantly influenced credit card usage
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nerdwallet credit card research for 2021 found that many people experienced problems with their credit cards during the pandemic. Around one in five card holders reported the limit on one or more of their credit cards decreased since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to 51% of consumers who had their limit cut, they’re now using the affected card less often, and using a different card they already had more frequently. More than a third of Americans whose limits were slashed in the pandemics aid they plan to use credit cards less in the future, and save more cash savings going forward in case their limits are reduced again.
18. High interest rates are the biggest concern for people getting credit cards
When asked about the potential drawbacks of using credit cards, 51% of Experian survey respondents said high interest rates were their most significant concern. Another 36% said they were worried about deepening their debt issues as a result of using credit.
33% of consumers said they were concerned about taking out credit cards because of the risk of identity theft or high-cost annual fees associated with the financial products. This may be why Experian also found the biggest things most consumers are looking for when shopping for credit cards is:
- No annual fees (54%)
- Rewards (45%)
- Low interest rates (40%)
- Low APR (28%)
19. Chase is the company issuing the most credit cards
Shift studies from August 2021 found Chase, the Bank of America, and Capital One are some of the leading credit card issuers in the US. Chase is the most popular issuing bank by far, with more than 93 million cards in circulation.
Notably, Shift also notes the four biggest credit card companies overall are Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. Of all four companies, Visa and Mastercard make up the biggest percentage of credit cards in circulation nationally.
20. When not able to access a credit card, most Americans look into personal credit or loans
When credit cards aren’t available, US citizens tend to explore a range of options for different forms of funding. 34% of consumers say they look into personal lines of credit, while 32% consider a personal loan from a credit union or bank.
30% of consumers would consider using a 401(k) loan instead of a credit card, while 26% would use a personal loan from a P2P site. Payday loans and title loans were the go-to option for 25% of customers, while 23% said they would look at point of sale loans, loans from a friend or loved one, or home equity credit.
21. Demand for credit cards is rising
According to Equifax, 6 million US citizens opened credit cards in March 2021, compared to only 4.54 million in March 2020. Additionally, spending has risen at the same time, with US retail sales growing by 11% year over year between 2020 and 2021.
Experts believe citizens may be spending more thanks to increased positivity about the economy going forward, and reduced restrictions since the pandemic in 2020. Consumers are getting more comfortable applying for credit cards again as the economy starts to gradually recover.
Credit Card Statistics in 2022
As these credit card statistics show, demand for credit continues to grow year after year. Though many consumers feel anxious about the concept of acquiring a credit card, this financial vehicle is still one of the most popular tools in the modern world.