Research and Statistics

3 in 10 cardholders pay their balances in full each month, banks say


Three in 10 cardholders pay their balances in full each month, according to new data from the American Bankers’ Association. It’s the highest level since the group began tracking that data since 2008.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.


The share of cardholders who pay their balances in full each month has reached a new high, according to data from the American Bankers Association (ABA).

ABA said in its latest Credit Card Market Monitor the share of transactors – card users who pay their balances in full each month – ticked up by 1 percentage point to 30.4 percent in the second quarter of 2018. The share of consumers who revolve balances each month fell by 1 percent to 43.8 percent.

ABA said the percentage of transactors relative to revolvers and dormant accounts is the highest since it began tracking that data back in 2008.

Paying card balances off in full is perhaps more critical to consumers than ever before, given that average card APRs recently surpassed 17 percent. That means even new cardholders with high credit ratings could be subject to high interest rates that were once reserved for riskier borrowers. And card APRs are set to rise even more in the near future as the Federal Reserve continues to normalize interest rates.

Card balances rose but remain relatively low versus income

Card debt outstanding as a share of disposable income ticked up slightly to 5.36 percent in the second quarter, but it remains more than 2 percentage points below recession-era levels.

“Consumers continue to keep credit card balances low relative to income, and are managing their credit cards prudently,” Jess Sharp, executive director of ABA’s Card Policy Council, said in a news release.

ABA said super-prime accounts rose by 9.2 percent year-over-year, and accounts for prime customers grew by 6.6 percent – both record highs. Subprime accounts grew only by 3 percent.

See related: Credit card billing cycles: How long can they be? 

“Consumers continue to keep credit card balances low relative to income, and are managing their credit cards prudently.”

Card issuers show restraint extending credit to potentially risky consumers

While accounts are on the rise, card issuers are showing a bit of restraint with regard to the amount of credit they extend customers in various risk tiers. Average credit lines dropped for both new prime (0.4 percent) and subprime (1.3 percent) borrowers for the first time in a year, while super-prime cardholders’ credit limits rose 0.2 percent.

“A strong economy, along with high confidence levels bolstered by more jobs and higher wages, continues to support healthy consumer spending,” Sharp said. “The industry continues its diligent approach to credit underwriting, which is reflected most recently in declines in average credit lines for prime and subprime borrowers.”

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Poll: Most online shoppers can’t resist the lure of unplanned buys

Nearly half of American consumers have made an unplanned internet purchase in the past three months, and one in seven have done so in the past week, according to a new poll.

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: September 16th, 2020
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.