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Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics

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Credit-card-statistics-road-map This page contains consumer credit and debt statistics -- including statistics on credit card debt, credit card delinquencies, credit scores, credit card interest rates, debit cards, prepaid cards, bankruptcies and more -- compiled by the CreditCards.com staff. Statistics on this page will be updated regularly as we receive new or updated data.  Some data may appear multiple times on the page because the information applies to 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
Click the arrow near any category to unfold the information
 Most popular searches
  • Average credit card debt per U.S. adult, excluding zero-balance cards and store cards: $4,878.43
  • Average debt per credit card that usually carries a balance: $8,220.44
  • Average debt per credit card that doesn't usually carry a balance: $1,037.44
  • Average number of cards held by cardholders: 3.7 as of the end of 2009.1
  • Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 13.14 in Feb. 2014.9
  • Total number of credit card transactions in the U.S. in 2012: 26.2 billion.53
  • Total number of credit card accounts in the U.S. as of Q3 2013: 391.24 million, vs. 457.64 million in Q3 2003.54
  • Average value of a credit card transaction in the U.S. in 2012: $94.53
  • Total U.S. outstanding revolving debt: $870.4 billion as of April 2014.9
  • Total U.S. outstanding consumer debt: $3.18 trillion as of April 2014.9
  • Charge-off rate on credit card loans from top 100 banks: 3.87 percent as of Q1 2013. 2
  •  


 Bankruptcy
  • Total nonbusiness bankruptcy filings in 2012: 1.18 million, down from 1.36 million in 2011.26
  • Total business bankruptcy filings in 2012: 40,075, down from 47,806 in 2011.26
  •  


 Credit cards

Business credit cards

  • 37 percent of small-businesses say their businesses have relied on credit cards to meet capital needs in the 12 months prior to May 2012.18
  • 44 percent of small-business owners say the terms of their business credit cards got worse in the 12 months prior to May 2012.18
  • 50 percent of small-business owners surveyed in May 2012 said they pay off their business credit cards every month.18
  • 26 percent of small-business owners surveyed in May 2012 said they carry a balance of less than $10,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 15 percent of small-business owners surveyed in May 2012 said they carry a balance of $10,000 to $25,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 9 percent of small-business owners surveyed in May 2012 said they carry a balance of more than $25,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 5 percent of small-business owners surveyed in May 2012 said that in the past four years they had closed their credit cards and switched to debit cards exclusively.18
  • Small-business owners surveyed in May 2012 reported an average interest rate of 15.6 percent on their business credit cards.18
  • 80 percent of business cards reviewed between 2006 and 2011 included an “any time” change-in-terms clause with no right to opt out, which gives the bank issuers the right to change account terms at any time with little or no notice.22
  • 84 percent of business cards reviewed between 2006 and 2011 gave issuers the sole power to apply payments to low-rate balances first.22
  • 67 percent of business cards reviewed between 2006 and 2011 included penalty rates for late payments or overlimit transactions.22
  • 73 percent of business cards reviewed between 2006 and 2011 included a late fee, with a median amount of $39, while 67 percent included an overlimit fee, with a median amount of $39.22
  • In 2011, approximately 58.8 percent of small businesses used a business credit card while 43.5 percent used a personal credit card for business purposes.28
  • In 2011, 20.3 percent of small businesses that used business credit cards carried a balance.28
  • In 2011, 32.2 percent of small businesses that used personal credit cards for business carried a balance.28
  • In 2011, business use of personal credit cards decreased as firm size increased, whereas the use of business credit cards increased with firm size.28

  Card ownership

  • Average number of credit cards consumers had in 2012: 1.96.7
  • Average number of credit cards held by cardholders at the end of 2009: 3.7.1
  • The percentage of consumers who had at least one credit card was 72.2 percent at the end of 2009, compared with 77 percent who had at least one debit card and 32.3 percent with at least one prepaid card.1
  • In 2009, the average credit card adopter had 2.1 general purpose cards, 0.4 charge cards, and 1.2 branded credit cards.1
  • Of the 3.7 credit cards held by the average adopter, two cards earned rewards and 1.8 cards did not. (These numbers do not sum exactly to 3.7, due to rounding error.) 1
  • Percentage of consumers who had a contactless payment card or similar device in 2009: 24 percent. Of those, approximately 9.6 percent were attached to credit cards, 11.3 percent were attached to debit cards and 2.6 percent were attached to prepaid cards.1
  • Percentage of students who owned a credit card in 2012: 35 percent, down from 42 percent in 2010. Of the students with credit cards, more than 75 percent had them in their own name in 2012, a similar percentage as in 2011.11
  • Percentage of college freshmen with a credit card in 2012: 21 percent.11
  • Percentage of college sophomores with a credit card in 2012: 28 percent.11
  • Percentage of college juniors with a credit card in 2012: 38 percent.11
  • Percentage of college seniors with a credit card in 2012: 60 percent.11
  • Percentage of students from high-income families that owned a credit card in 2012: 53.11
  • Percentage of students from middle-income families that owned a credit card in 2012: 31.11
  • Percentage of students from low-income families that owned a credit card in 2012: 29.11
  • Families with four or more credit cards: 32.7 percent in 2010, down from 35 percent in 2007.15
  • Americans who were rejected for a new credit card in 2012: 7 percent, up from 4 percent in 2011.27
  • Americans over 18 years old with no credit card in 2012: 26 percent. Approximately 34 percent of survey respondents age 18 to 49 said they had no credit cards compared to 16 percent of those age 50 and over.33
  • Americans over 18 years old with one credit card in 2012: 20percent.33
  • Americans over 18 years old with two or three credit cards in 2012: 33 percent.33
  • Americans over 18 years old with four or more credit cards in 2012: 20 percent.33
  • Approximately 27 percent of survey respondents age 50 and over reported in 2012 that they had four or more credit cards, compared with 16 percent of those age 18 to 49. 33

  Credit and charge card circulation

  • American Express: 52.5 million cards in the United States and 51.8 million in the rest of the world as of June 30, 2013.50
  • MasterCard credit and charge: 180 million cards in the United States and 551 million cards in the rest of the world as of June 30, 2013.48
  • Visa credit: 278 million cards in the United States and 522 million cards in the rest of the world as of March 31, 2013.51

  Credit availability

  • Average number of open credit cards consumers had in 2012: 1.96.7
  • Average percentage of credit Americans had available in 2012: 70.51 percent.7
  • 39 percent of low- and middle-income households faced tighter credit, such as having cards canceled, credit limits reduced or credit card applications denied, between March 2009 and March 2012.19
  • Demand for consumer credit grew 21.4 percent in Q2 2012 from the same period a year earlier.30

  Credit card debt

  • Average credit card debt per U.S. adult, excluding zero-balance cards and store cards: $4,878.43
  • Average debt per credit card that usually carries a balance: $8,220.44
  • Average debt per credit card that doesn't usually carry a balance: $1,037.44
  • Americans who carried credit card debt from month to month as of March 2012: 39 percent.27
  • One-third of student credit cards had a zero balance in the 2011-2012 school year. Another 41 percent of families reported student card balances of less than $500. Only 3 percent carried a balance greater than $4,000. 11
  • The average outstanding credit card balance of college students reported in 2011-2012 was $755. 11
  • High-income students had lower credit card balances on average in 2011-2012 -- $521 compared with $755 in the general student population.11
  • Of the 68 percent of families with credit cards in 2010, only 55.1 percent had a balance, down from 2007 when 72.9 percent had cards and 61 percent had an outstanding balance.15
  • 26 percent of small-business owners carry a balance of less than $10,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 15 percent of small-business owners carry a balance of $10,000 to $25,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 9 percent of small-business owners carry a balance of more than $25,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • In 2012, the average credit card debt among low- and middle-income households carrying credit card debt totaled $7,145, down from $9,887 in 2008.19
  • Nearly half of low- and middle-income households carried debt from out of pocket medical expenses on their credit cards in 2012. The average amount of medical credit card debt was $1,678.19
  • A survey conducted in February and March 2012 found that approximately 86 percent of low- and middle-income households who incurred expenses resulting from unemployment in the previous year took on credit card debt as a result.19
  • 60 percent of low- and middle-income households in debt who had college expenses for a child between February 2009 and February 2012 said that those expenses contributed to the credit card debt.19
  • 71 percent of low- and middle-income households in debt who had college expenses for themselves or their spouse between February 2009 and February 2012 reported that those expenses contributed to credit card debt.19
  • 20 percent of low- and middle-income Americans with no credit card debt but who had debt in the past cited college expenses as a factor that contributed to that past debt.19
  • When facing financial problems related to debt, 27 percent of U.S. adults say they would first turn to their friends and family for help, and 13 percent say they would reach out to the lender or credit card company.27
  • Nearly two in five Americans (39 percent) carry credit card debt from month to month, as of March 2012.27
  • The states with the highest amount of average credit card debt in 2012 were Alaska ($7,045), Colorado ($5,728), North Carolina ($5,619) and Connecticut ($5,532).32
  • The states with the lowest amount of average credit card debt in 2012 were Iowa ($3,874), North Dakota ($4,006), Wisconsin ($4,252) and South Dakota ($4,257).32
  • Women are more likely than men to carry a credit card balance, make the minimum payment on their credit cards and be charged a late fee.24
  • Males who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 55 percent.24
  • Females who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 60 percent.24
  • 85 percent of respondents in a March 2013 poll said they were unlikely or somewhat unlikely to talk with a stranger about credit card debt -- a subject more taboo than religion, politics, salary and love life details.46 

  Credit card purchase and transaction volume

  • American Express U.S. credit purchase volume: $424.3 billion for 2011.3
  • Discover credit purchase volume: $106 billion for 2012.49
  • MasterCard U.S. credit purchase volume: $534 billion for 2012.5
  • Visa U.S. credit purchase volume: $981 billion for 2012.4
  • Percentage of credit card volume generated by co-branded Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards in 2012: 35 percent.52
  • Total number of credit card transactions in the United States: 26.2 billion in 2012, vs. 19 billion in 2003.53
  • Total number of general purpose credit card transactions in the U.S.: 23.8 billion in 2012, vs. 15.2 billion in 2003.53
  • Total number of private label credit card transactions in the U.S.: 2.4 billion in 2012 vs. 3.8 billion in 2003.53
  • The number of general purpose credit card transactions, which were relatively flat from 2006 to 2009, increased a total of 4.2 billion, or 6.8 percent annually from 2009 to 2012.53
  • The number of private label credit card transactions increased at a 17.1 percent annual rate from 2009 to 2012.53
  • Total value of credit card transactions in the U.S. in 2012: $2.48 trillion ($2.21 trillion for general purpose cards and $270 billion for private label cards).53
  • Credit cards contributed 3 percent of the value of all noncash payments in 2012, debit cards contributed 2 percent, checks 33 percent and ACH 61 percent.53
  • Credit card transactions accounted for 21 percent of the total number of noncash transactions in 2012, debit cards accounted for 38 percent, prepaid cards 7 percent, checks 15 percent and ACH 18 percent.53
  • Average value of a credit card transaction in 2012: $94. Average value of a debit card transaction: $39. Average value of a check paid: $1,420.53
  • Average value of a credit card transaction by a business in 2012: $196.53
  • Average value of a credit card transaction by a consumer in 2012: $76.53
  • By 2012, about two-thirds of consumer and business payments were made with payment cards, and the share of card payments by number has been growing. Cards increased their share from 43 percent of all noncash payments in 2003 to 67 percent in 2012.53

  Credit card usage

  • Nearly half of low- and middle-income households carried debt from out of pocket medical expenses on their credit cards in 2012. The average amount of medical credit card debt was $1,678.19
  • Proportion of parents who used credit cards to pay for their kids’ college bills as of 2012: Approximately 4 percent, borrowing on average $4,911.11
  • Proportion of college students borrowing from credit cards to pay for college as of 2012: 3 percent. Average amount in college costs financed on those credit cards as of 2012: $2,169.11
  • Low- and middle-income households that used credit cards to pay for basic living expenses such as rent or mortgage, groceries or utilities, in the 12 months prior to March 2012 because they did not have enough money in their checking or savings accounts: 40 percent.19
  • Credit card holders with two to three credit cards who actually use two to three each month, as of 2012: 49 percent. Credit card holders with four or more credit cards who only use two to three each month, as of 2012: 68 percent.33
  • Credit card users surveyed in 2012 who used their cards to buy:
      Clothing: 67 percent
      Gas: 64 percent
      Food: 64 percent
      Travel: 62 percent.33
  • Among credit card holders surveyed in 2012, those age 50 and up were more likely than those age 18 to 49 to use their credit card for travel (68 percent versus 55 percent ), clothing (72 percent versus 62 percent), home maintenance (39 percent versus 28 percent) and car maintenance (54 percent versus 40 percent).33
  • 63 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay for groceries, compared with 19 percent who said credit cards and 13 percent who said cash.37
  • 50 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay for gasoline, compared to 25 percent who said credit cards and 13 percent who said cash.37
  • 50 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay at discount stores, compared with 17 percent who said credit cards and 23 percent who said cash.37
  • 47 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay at department stores, compared with 25 percent who said credit cards and 8 percent who said cash.37
  • 46 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often when online shopping, compared with 40 percent who said credit cards and 2 percent who said cash.37
  • 46 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often when dining in restaurants, compared with 26 percent who said credit cards and 21 percent who said cash.37
  • 38 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often when shopping at convenience stores, compared with 11 percent who said credit cards and 38 percent who said cash.37
  • 36 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often when dining at fast food restaurants, compared with 11 percent who said credit cards and 46 percent who said cash.37

  Customer satisfaction

J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Credit Card Satisfaction Study Rankings6
  1. American Express
  2. Discover Card
  3. Chase
  4. Barclaycard
  5. U.S. Bank
  6. Citi Cards
  7. Wells Fargo
  8. Capital One
  9. Bank of America
  10. GE Capital Retail Bank
  11. HSBC

  Delinquency

  • Charge-off rate on credit card loans from top 100 banks: 3.87 percent as of Q1 2013. 2
  • U.S. credit card 60-day delinquency rate in August 2012: 1.76 percent.17
  • Bank card delinquencies: 2.93 percent during Q2, 2012, well below the 15-year average of 3.91 percent.36
  • Proportion of adults who do not pay all of their bills on time: 33 percent in 2012, up from 28 percent in 2011.27
  • National credit card delinquency rate (the ratio of borrowers 90 or more days past due): 0.63 percent in Q2 2012, down from 0.73 percent the previous quarter. 32
  • States with the highest credit card delinquency rates in 2012: Mississippi, Nevada, Alabama, Georgia and West Virginia.32
  • States with the lowest credit card delinquency rates in 2012: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Nebraska.32

  Fees

  • 28 percent of credit card holders surveyed in December 2010 said no annual fee was the most important credit card feature.12
  • 28 percent of low- and middle-income households reported paying late fees on their credit cards in 2012 down from half of households reporting that they paid late fees in 2008.19
  • 11 percent of bank credit cards carried overlimit penalty fees in 2011, down from 23 percent in 2010 and more than 80 percent in 2009.21
  • In 2011, the percentage of credit cards with annual fees was 21 percent for bank credit cards and 14 percent for credit union credit cards.21
  • Women are more likely than men to carry a credit card balance, make the minimum payment on their credit cards and be charged a late fee.24

  Interest rates/APRs

  • Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 13.14 in Feb. 2014.9
  • 40 percent of credit card holders surveyed in December 2010 said that low APR/Interest rate was the most important credit card feature.12
  • 17 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 reported an interest rate increase on their credit cards within the previous year.14
  • Small-business owners reported an average interest rate of 15.6 percent on their business credit cards in May 2012.18
  • 24 percent fewer low- and middle-income households reported that their interest rates increased as a result of a late payment in 2012 than in 2008.19
  • Median advertised interest rates for purchases on bank credit cards in 2011 were 12.99 to 20.99 percent depending on a consumer’s credit history. Median credit union rates for purchases in 2011 were between 9.99 percent and 17 percent.21
  • Females paid half a percentage point more in credit card interest rates than men in 2012.24

  Payment

  • Women are more likely than men to carry a credit card balance, make the minimum payment on their credit cards and be charged a late fee.24
  • Males who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 55 percent.24
  • Females who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 60 percent.24
  • Among men and women with low levels of financial literacy, women are likely to engage in significantly more costly behaviors than men.24
  • Among men and women with high levels of financial literacy there are no differences in behavior between the sexes.24
  • In December 2010, 74 percent of cardholders with a mobile phone reported going online to the financial institution’s website to make transactions. 59 percent of cardholders with a mobile phone said they used the Internet as their primary way to make transactions.12
  • In December 2010, 13 percent of cardholders with a mobile phone used a mobile application to make transactions.12
  • One-third of student credit cards had a zero balance in the 2011-2012 school year. Another 41 percent of families reported student card balances of less than $500. Only 3 percent carried a balance greater than $4,000.11
  • Cardholders 18 and older surveyed in February 2012 who said they paid the full balance on their credit cards each month: 58 percent.33
  • Cardholders 18 and older surveyed in February 2012 who said they paid less than the full amount but more than the required minimum balance: 32 percent.33
  • Cardholders 18 and older surveyed in February 2012 who said they paid only the minimum amount: 8 percent.33
  • Cardholders 18 and older surveyed in February 2012 who paid the minimum balance each month and believed they would be able to pay off their current balance by making minimum payments: 60 percent.33
  • Among respondents surveyed in 2012, 65 percent age 50 and over paid their full credit card balances each month compared with 52 percent of those 18 to 49.33
  • Americans surveyed in the first half of 2012 who were seriously concerned about being able to meet essential financial obligations such as their mortgage, loans, credit card or bill payments: 36 percent, down significantly from 49 percent a year earlier.33
  • Consumers paid an estimated $72 billion more than they spent on their credit cards between Q1 2009 and Q1 2010.29

  Rewards

  • Of the 3.7 credit cards held by the average credit card holder in 2009, two cards earned rewards and 1.8 cards did not. (These numbers do not sum exactly to 3.7, due to rounding error.)1
  • 13 percent of credit card holders surveyed in December 2010 said rewards or points were the most important credit card feature.12
  • 57 percent of cardholders surveyed in December 2010 said cash back was the most important type of credit card reward; 13 percent said merchant rewards and another 13 percent said flexible points.12
  • 57 percent of rewards card holders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the quality of their card issuer’s service as above average or excellent.23
  • 54 percent of rewards card holders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the quality of the card issuer’s website as above average or excellent.23
  • 49 percent of rewards cardholders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the variety of rewards that could be earned as above average or excellent.23
  • 45 percent of rewards card holders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the dollar value of points earned as above average or excellent.23
  • 45 percent of rewards card holders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the speed with which rewards could be earned as above average or excellent.23
  • 30 percent of rewards card holders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the ability to access rewards information using a mobile device as above average or excellent.23
  • 27 percent of rewards card holders surveyed in Q2 2012 rated the ability to redeem points using a mobile device as above average or excellent.23
  • Percentage of consumers using co-branded or affinity cards in 2013: 43 percent, down from 55 percent in 2009.52

 Credit risk
  • Between 2011 and 2012, 15 states experienced a decrease in credit risk. Of the five most populous states, three saw year-over-year decreases in credit risk, including Illinois, California and Texas. The other two -- New York and Florida -- saw year-over-year credit risk increases.31
  • Between Q1 and Q2 of 2012, all 50 states saw a decrease in credit risk; only the District of Columbia experienced an increase.31
  • States with the lowest credit risk in 2012 were concentrated in the Upper Midwest and New England regions. The states with the lowest credit risk in 2012 were North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.31
  • Nevada, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia had the highest credit risk in Q2 of 2012.31

 Credit scores
  • The national average FICO score was 646 and the national median FICO score was 723 as of July 2013.16
  • The national average Experian VantageScore was 750 in 2012, up from 749 in 2011.7
  • The city with the highest average Experian VantageScore score in 2012 was Minneapolis, Minn., with a 787 average score.7
  • The city with the lowest average credit score in 2012 was Harlingen, Texas, with a 688 average score.7
  • Eight of the 10 cities with the highest average VantageScores in 2012 were in the Midwest.7
  • Eight of the 10 cities with the lowest average VantageScores in 2012 were in the South.7
  • The average Experian VantageScore among people 66 and over in 2012 was 829.8
  • The average Experian VantageScore among Baby Boomers (ages 47-65) in 2012 was 782.8
  • The average Experian VantageScore among Generation X (ages 30-46) in 2012 was 718.8
  • The average Experian VantageScore among Generation Y (ages 19-29) in 2012 was 672.8
  • 85 percent of college students in spring 2012 didn't know their credit score.14
  • 9 percent of college students in spring 2012 reported that their credit score was between 700 and 850, categorized as ‘very good.’14
  • Nearly seven in 10 college students in spring 2012 said a good credit score is ‘very important’ while 20 percent said it is ‘somewhat important.’14
  • 18 percent of low- and middle-income households surveyed in 2012 identified late payments toward student loans as contributing to their low credit score.19
  • Proportion of adults surveyed in March 2012 who had ordered or received their credit score in the previous 12 months: 44 percent, up from 37 percent in 2011.27
  • Proportion of adults surveyed in March 2012 who had not reviewed their credit score in the previous 12 months: 55 percent.27
  • Proportion of adults surveyed in March 2012 who had not reviewed their credit report in the previous 12 months: 62 percent.27
  • 57 percent of women and 47 percent of men agree with the statement, "If you were about to get seriously involved with someone, you would want to know your partner's credit score."47

 Debit cards

  Debit card circulation

  • MasterCard debit: 144 million cards in the United States and 336 million cards in the rest of the world as of June 30, 2013.48
  • Visa debit: 428 million cards in the United States and 906 million cards in the rest of the world as of March 31, 2013.51

  Debit card fees

  • When asked in 2011 what they would do if their financial institution added a small fee such as 5 to 10 cents to each debit card transaction, 36 percent of debit card holders said they would stop using their card; 29 percent said they would use their debit card less; 20 percent said they would close their checking account; and 15 percent said they would use the card as usual.37
  • When asked in 2011 what they would do if their financial institution charged a flat monthly fee to their checking account that allowed unlimited use of their debit card, 27 percent of debit card holders said they would stop using their card; 26 percent said they would use their debit card as usual; 25 percent said they would close their checking account; and 22 percent said they would use their debit card less.37
  • When asked in 2011 what payment types consumers might move to if fees for debit use became a factor, 53 percent said they would use cash more; 26 percent said they would use checks more; 24 percent said they would use credit or charge cards more; 21 percent said they would open a PayPal account; and 8 percent said they would use retailer private label more.37
  • 3 percent of consumers in 2011 would continue using their current debit card if a fee were imposed; 62 percent would switch to a bank that didn’t charge debit card fees; 22 percent would begin paying with cash; 8 percent would start paying by check; and 5 percent would begin charging their purchases with a credit card.39

  Debit card purchase and transaction volume

  • MasterCard debit purchase volume: $448 billion in the United States for the full year of 2012.5
  • Visa debit purchase volume: $1.10 trillion in the United States for the full year of 2012.4
  • MasterCard debit transaction volume: 11.3 billion transactions in the United States for the full year of 2012.5
  • Visa debit transaction volume: 29.5 billion transactions in the United States for the full year of 2012.4
  • Total number of debit card transactions in the U.S.: 47 billion in 2012, vs. 15.6 billion in 2003.53
  • Credit cards contributed 3 percent of the value of all noncash payments in 2012, debit cards contributed 2 percent, checks 33 percent and ACH 61 percent.53
  • Credit card transactions accounted for 21 percent of the total number of noncash transactions in 2012, debit cards accounted for 38 percent, prepaid cards 7 percent, checks 15 percent and ACH 18 percent.53
  • The average value of a debit card transaction in 2012 was $39. The average value of a credit card transaction was $94 and the average value of a check paid was $1,420.53

  Debit card rewards

  • Of the 77 percent of consumers who had a debit card in 2009, 28.5 percent of them had a debit card that earned rewards.1

  Debit card usage

  • The average debit card holder spent $8,326 on the debit card in 2011, up from $7,781 in 2010.38
  • Active debit card users performed an average of 18.3 purchases a month with their debit cards in 2011 compared with 16.3 a month in 2010.38
  • The average price on a debit transaction in 2011 was $38. The median price on a debit transaction in 2011 was $19. More than 30 percent of debit transactions in 2011 were less than $10.38
  • 63 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay for groceries, compared with 19 percent who said credit cards and 13 percent who said cash.37
  • 50 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay for gasoline, compared to 25 percent who said credit cards and 13 percent who said cash.37
  • 50 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay at discount stores, compared with 17 percent who said credit cards and 23 percent who said cash.37
  • 47 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often to pay at department stores, compared with 25 percent who said credit cards and 8 percent who said cash.37
  • 46 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often when online shopping, compared with 40 percent who said credit cards and 2 percent who said cash.37
  • 46 percent of debit card holders fsurveyed in 2011said they used their debit cards most often when dining in restaurants, compared with 26 percent who said credit cards and 21 percent who said cash.37
  • 38 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011said they used their debit cards most often when shopping at convenience stores, compared with 11 percent who said credit cards and 38 percent who said cash.37
  • 36 percent of debit card holders surveyed in 2011 said they used their debit cards most often when dining at fast food restaurants, compared with 11 percent who said credit cards and 46 percent who said cash.37
  • Debit card payments accounted for 43 percent of 110 billion transactions in 2011, up from 19.4 percent in 2003.40
  • Half of all noncash payments for fuel in 2012 were made with debit cards.41
  • Among households with income of less than $50,000, debit cards accounted for twice as many gas station transactions as credit cards in 2012.41

 Debt

  Credit card debt

  • Americans who carried credit card debt from month to month as of March 2012: 39 percent.27
  • One-third of student credit cards had a zero balance in the 2011-2012 school year. Another 41 percent of families reported student card balances of less than $500. Only 3 percent carried a balance greater than $4,000.11
  • The average outstanding credit card balance of college students reported in 2011-2012 was $755.11
  • High-income students had lower credit card balances on average in 2011-2012 -- $521 compared with $755 in the general student population.11
  • Of the 68 percent of families with credit cards in 2010, only 55.1 percent had a balance, down from 2007 when 72.9 percent had cards and 61 percent had an outstanding balance.15
  • 26 percent of small-business owners carry a balance of less than $10,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 15 percent of small-business owners carry a balance of $10,000 to $25,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • 9 percent of small-business owners carry a balance of more than $25,000 on their business credit cards.18
  • In 2012, the average credit card debt among low- and middle-income households carrying credit card debt totaled $7,145, down from $9,887 in 2008.19
  • Nearly half of low- and middle-income households carried debt from out of pocket medical expenses on their credit cards in 2012. The average amount of medical credit card debt was $1,678.19
  • A survey conducted in February and March 2012 found that approximately 86 percent of low- and middle-income households who incurred expenses resulting from unemployment in the previous year took on credit card debt as a result.19
  • 60 percent of low- and middle-income households in debt who had college expenses for a child between February 2009 and February 2012 said that those expenses contributed to the credit card debt.19
  • 71 percent of low- and middle-income households in debt who had college expenses for themselves or their spouse between February 2009 and February 2012 reported that those expenses contributed to credit card debt.19
  • 20 percent of low- and middle-income Americans with no credit card debt but who had debt in the past cited college expenses as a factor that contributed to that past debt.19
  • When facing financial problems related to debt, 27 percent of U.S. adults say they would first turn to their friends and family for help, and 13 percent say they would reach out to the lender or credit card company.27
  • Nearly two in five Americans (39 percent) carry credit card debt from month to month, as of March 2012.27
  • The states with the highest amount of average credit card debt in 2012 were Alaska ($7,045), Colorado ($5,728), North Carolina ($5,619) and Connecticut ($5,532).32
  • The states with the lowest amount of average credit card debt in 2012 were Iowa ($3,874), North Dakota ($4,006), Wisconsin ($4,252) and South Dakota ($4,257).32
  • Women are more likely than men to carry a credit card balance, make the minimum payment on their credit cards and be charged a late fee.24
  • Males who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 55 percent.24
  • Females who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 60 percent.24

  Total consumer debt

  • Total U.S. outstanding consumer debt: $3.18 trillion as of April 2014.9
  • Average age Americans at which expect to be debt-free: 53.45
  • The average total debt among Baby Boomers in 2012 was $101,951.8
  • The average total debt among those 66 and over in 2012 was $38,043.8
  • The average total debt among Generation X in 2012 was $111,121.8
  • The average total debt among Generation Y in 2012 was $34,765.8
  • Generation X in 2012 had 42 percent more overall debt than other generations.8
  • Among middle- and low-income Americans surveyed in 2012 who described their credit as being “poor,” 55 percent said unpaid medical bills or medical debts contributed.19
  • In 2010, 13.8 percent of families had a ratio of debt payments to family income of greater than 40 percent.15
  • When facing financial problems related to debt, 27 percent of U.S. adults said in 2012 that they would first turn to their friends and family for help, and 13 percent said they would reach out to the lender or credit card company.27
  • Nearly 53 percent of Americans believe "a partner with debt is a turnoff." 57 percent of women and 48 percent of men agree with the statement.47
  •  

 Demographics

  African-American

  • While 62 percent of middle- and low-income households in debt in 2012 described their credit as “excellent” or “good” only 44 percent of African-Americans and 55 percent of Latinos described their credit in those positive terms.19

  Elderly

  • The average total debt among those 66 and over is $38,043.8
  • The average Experian VantageScore among people 66 and over is 829.8
  • Among respondents age 50 and over surveyed in February 2012, approximately 27 percent reported that they had four or more credit cards, compared with 16 percent of those age 18 to 49.33
  • Among respondents age 18 to 49 and over surveyed in February 2012, approximately 34 percent said they had no credit cards compared to 16 percent of those age 50 and over.33
  • 65 percent of survey respondents age 50 and over surveyed in February 2012 paid their full credit card balances each month compared with 52 percent of those 18 to 49.33
  • Among credit card holders surveyed in February 2012, those age 50 and up were more likely than those age 18 to 49 to use their credit card:
    • for travel (68 percent versus 55 percent ),
    • clothing (72 percent versus 62 percent),
    • home maintenance (39 percent versus 28 percent)
    • and car maintenance (54 percent versus 40 percent).33

  Gender

  • Women are more likely than men to carry a credit card balance, make the minimum payment on their credit cards and be charged a late fee.24
  • Males who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 55 percent.24
  • Females who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 60 percent.24
  • Among men and women with low levels of financial literacy, women are likely to engage in significantly more costly behaviors than men.24
  • Among men and women with high levels of financial literacy there are no differences in behavior between the sexes.24
  • Females paid half a percentage point more in credit card interest rates than men in 2012, regardless of financial literacy level.24

  Latino

  • While 62 percent of middle- and low-income households in debt in 2012 described their credit as “excellent” or “good” only 44 percent of African-Americans and 55 percent of Latinos described their credit in those positive terms.19

  Students

  • 35 percent of students owned a credit card in 2012, down from 42 percent in 2010.11
  • Over three-quarters of students with credit cards had them in their own name in 2012, a similar percentage as 2011.11
  • 27 percent of all college students surveyed in spring 2012 had a credit card in their own name.14
  • College students with a credit card in their own name in spring 2012 were more than twice as likely to have a Visa than a MasterCard.14
  • 43 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 said they would prefer to have a credit card in their own name requiring proof of income rather than having a secured card or being an authorized user of a parent’s card.14
  • When asked what they would do if they received their first credit card tomorrow, 62 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 said they would shift 1 percent or more of their spending from other payment methods to the credit card.14
  • 62 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 applied for their first credit card before starting college.14
  • Percentage of college freshmen with a credit card in 2012: 21 percent.11
  • Percentage of college sophomores with a credit card in 2012: 28 percent.11
  • Percentage of college juniors with a credit card in 2012: 38 percent.11
  • Percentage of college seniors with a credit card in 2012: 60 percent.11
  • Percentage of students from high-income families that owned a credit card in 2012: 53.11
  • Percentage of students from low-income families that owned a credit card in 2012: 29.11
  • Percentage of students from middle-income families that owned a credit card in 2012: 31.11
  • College students did 15 percent of their monthly spending on a credit card in spring 2012.14
  • One-third of student credit cards in 2012 had a zero balance. Another 41 percent of families reported student card balances of less than $500. Only 3 percent carried a balance greater than $4,000.11
  • The average outstanding credit card balance of college students reported in 2012 was $755.11
  • High-income students had lower credit card balances on average -- $521 compared with $755 in the general student population.11
  • The percentage of college students borrowing from credit cards in 2012 to pay for college was 3 percent. The average amount in college costs financed on those credit cards was $2,169.11
  • 13 percent of college students from middle- or low-income families in 2012 whose current credit card balance included some college expenses reported leaving school because of credit card debt.19
  • 68 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 had concerns about identity theft when it comes to having a credit card.14
  • More than twice as many college students (80 percent) carried debit cards than carry credit cards in 2012.11
  • Approximately 32 percent of students owned both a debit and credit card in 2012.11
  • 85 percent of college students didn't know what their credit score was in spring 2012.14
  • 9 percent of college students reported in spring 2012 that their credit score was between 700 and 850, categorized as ‘very good.’14
  • 60 percent of college students said in spring 2012 that the most important reason to have a credit card was to start building a credit history.14
  • 54 percent of college students said in spring 2012 that the most important reason to have a credit card was to have additional purchasing power for the unexpected.14
  • 17 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 reported an interest rate increase on their credit cards within the previous year.14
  • Proportion of parents who use credit cards to pay for their kids’ college bills as of 2012: Approximately 4 percent, borrowing on average $4,911.11
  • 18 percent of middle- or low-income households surveyed in 2012 identified late payments toward student loans as contributing to their low credit score.19
  • 60 percent of middle- or low-income households in debt who had college expenses for a child between February 2009 and February 2012 said that those expenses contributed to the credit card debt.19
  • 71 percent of middle- or low-income households in debt who had college expenses for themselves or their spouse between February 2009 and February 2012 reported that those expenses contributed to credit card debt.19
  • 20 percent of middle- or low-income Americans with no credit card debt but who had debt in the past cited college expenses as a factor that contributed to that past debt.19
  • A May 2012 study found that 32 of the 50 largest public four-year universities, 26 of the largest 50 community colleges, and six of the 20 largest private not-for-profit schools had debit or prepaid card contracts with a bank or a financial firm.20

  Teens and young adults

  • The average total debt among Generation Y in 2012 was $34,765.8
  • The average Experian VantageScore among Generation Y in 2012 was 672.8

 History
  • The first national general-use credit card that allowed balances to be paid over time was the BankAmericard, issued in 1958, (which in 1977 changed its name to Visa).25
  • MasterCard began in 1966, when 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 1979.42

 Identity theft, fraud
  • Unauthorized general-purpose credit card transactions made up 0.037 percent of all card-present credit card transactions in 2012 (accounting for 0.092 percent of the value of those transactions), and 0.118 percent of all card-not-present transactions (representing 0.114 percent of the value of those transactions).55
  • Unauthorized general-purpose signature debit card transactions made up 0.028 percent of all card-present general-purpose signature debit card transactions in 2012 (accounting for 0.113 percent of the value of those transactions), and 0.095 percent of all card-not-present general-purpose signature debit card transactions (representing 0.114 percent of the value of those transactions).55
  • Unauthorized general-purpose PIN debit and ATM card transactions made up 0.008 percent of all such transactions in 2012 (accounting for 0.028 percent of the value of those transactions).55
  • 68 percent of college students surveyed in spring 2012 had concerns about identity theft when it comes to having a credit card.14
  • The Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), a database of consumer complaints received by law enforcement, received more than 1.8 million complaints in 2011: 55 percent were fraud complaints; 15 percent were identity theft complaints; and 30 percent other types of complaints.34
  • Identity theft was the number one complaint category in the CSN for 2011, comprising 15 percent of the overall complaints.34
  • A total of 990,242 CSN 2011 complaints were related to fraud.34
  • Consumers reported paying more than $1.5 billion as a result of fraud in 2011; the median amount consumers paid fraudulently was $537.34
  • Of the fraud-related complaints in 2011 where the method of initial contact was reported, 43 percent said email, 13 percent said an Internet site and 7 percent said mail as the initial point of contact.34
  • In 2011Colorado had the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other complaints followed by Delaware and Maryland.34
  • 14 percent of identity theft in 2011 involved credit card fraud. 27 percent involved government documents/benefits fraud; 13 percent involved phone or utilities fraud and 9 percent involved bank fraud.34
  • In 2011 Florida had the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California.34
  • The top three threats most worrisome in the United States in 2012 were identity theft, bankcard fraud and national security as it relates to terrorism.35
  • 56 percent of Americans in 2012 were seriously concerned about someone obtaining and using their credit or debit card information.35
  • 39 percent of Americans in 2012 were seriously concerned about the security of shopping or banking online.35

 Online, mobile use
  • In 2010, 74 percent of cardholders with a mobile phone went online to their financial institution’s site to complete transactions.12
  • In 2010, 59 percent of cardholders with a mobile phone used the Internet as their primary way to complete transactions.12
  • In 2010 13 percent of cardholders with a mobile phone used a mobile application to complete transactions.12
  • Nearly two-thirds of online financial customers used bill pay across bank, credit card and third-party Web sites in 2011.13
  • 54 percent of rewards cardholders in 2012 rated the quality of the card issuer’s website as above average or excellent.23

 Sources
  1. “The 2009 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; published in 2011
  2. Federal Reserve Economic Data
  3. American Express interview
  4. Visa Operational Performance Data for 2012 (reported Feb 6, 2013)
  5. MasterCard 2012 results, Operational Performance (reported Jan. 31, 2013)
  6. J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study
  7. Experian’s State of Credit 2012 report
  8. Experian’s Generational Credit Trends (spring, 2012)
  9. Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit released June. 6, 2014
  10. The United States Census Bureau: The 2012 Statistical Abstract
  11. Sallie Mae’s 2012 How America Pays for College
  12. ComScore’s 2010 Online Credit Card Report
  13. ComScore’s 2011 State of Online and Mobile Banking Report
  14. Student Monitor Financial Services spring 2012
  15. Federal Reserve Bulletin, June 2012; Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2007 to 2010: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances
  16. Credit Reports 101
  17. Fitch Ratings
  18. National Small Business Association Small Business Access to Capital Survey, 2012
  19. Demos: The 2012 National Survey on Credit Card Debt of Low- and Middle-Income Households
  20. U.S. PIRG Education Fund: The Campus Debit Card Trap: Are Bank Partnerships Fair to Students? (May, 2012)
  21. The PEW Health Group: A New Equilibrium: After Passage of Landmark Credit Card Reform, Interest Rates and Fees Have Stabilized. (May, 2011)
  22. PEW Safe Credit Cards Project: U.S. Households at Risk from Business Credit Cards (May, 2011)
  23. Aite Group: Credit Card Rewards Programs: What Do Cardholders Think?
  24. FINRA Investor Education Foundation: In Our Best Interest: Women, Financial Literacy and Credit Card Behavior (April, 2012)
  25. Britannica.com
  26. American Bankruptcy Institute: Annual Business and Non-Business Filings by Year (1980 - 2012)
  27. The 2012 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, prepared for The National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association
  28. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: Report to the Congress on the Availability of Credit to Small Businesses, September 2012
  29. TransUnion press release, July 27, 2011
  30. TransUnion's Total Inquiry Index, September 2012
  31. TransUnion’s Credit Risk Index, September 2012
  32. TransUnion Q2 2012 credit card delinquency rates
  33. AARP Bulletin Survey on Budgeting and Credit Card Use (April 2012)
  34. Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January - December 2011 (Released February 2012)
  35. Unisys Security Index U.S. May 2012
  36. American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin (October, 2012)
  37. 2011 Consumer Debit Research: Final Report of Survey and Focus Group Results, October, 2011
  38. PULSE 2012 Debit Issuer Study
  39. October 2011 National Foundation for Credit Counseling Study
  40. Moebs Services study
  41. Electronic Payments Coalition
  42. MasterCard corporate history
  43. TransUnion analysis of May 2013 credit files. See Average credit card debt? Take your pick
  44. Experian analysis of March 2013 credit files. See Average credit card debt? Take your pick
  45. Average American expects to be debt free by age 53 -- CreditCards.com poll conducted by GfK Roper May 31 through June 2, 2013
  46. Poll: Card debt the No. 1 taboo subject -- CreditCards.com poll conducted by GfK Roper March 2013
  47. Love me, love my debt? No way, poll says -- CreditCards.com poll conducted by GfK Roper January 2013
  48. MasterCard Q2 2013 Financial Results, Operational Performance (reported July 31, 2013)
  49. Discover Historical Calendar Year Supplement for 2012 (reported March 5, 2013)
  50. American Express Q2 2013 Financial Results, Earnings Supplement (reported July 17, 2013)
  51. Visa Operational Performance Data (reported July 24, 2013)
  52. Market researcher Packaged Facts
  53. 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study
  54. New York Federal Reserve, Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, November, 2013
  55. 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study (released December, 2013)

Tamara E. Holmes and Juan Rodriguez contributed to this report.

Updated: June 11, 2014


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