Credit Smart

Percentage of credit cards with balances rises


‘Revolvers’ increase to a 4-year high

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.


After five years of edging downward, the share of active credit cardholders who are carrying a balance has inched up.

Cardholders who perpetually hold a balance are called “revolvers,” and they account for about 6 in 10 of all consumers with an active credit card. The latest reading from the American Bankers Association shows that for the third quarter of 2016, revolvers comprised 59.7 percent of active cardholders, up from 58.6 percent a year earlier.

On the flip side of the coin are the “transactors,” who pay their balance in full each month. Their ranks grew to 41.4 percent last year, but dropped off in the third quarter to just over 40 percent. The calculations excludes dormant accounts – those who have not used their credit cards for the prior three months.

The last time the proportion of revolvers was this high was in 2012, when 61.4 percent of cardholders were carrying their balance. But this year’s uptick is small, and the current level is still well below the post-recession highs seen in 2009-2012.

The American Bankers Association releases a new Credit Card Market Monitor every quarter. The report was released Jan. 31 and reflects credit card data from July through September 2016. Data for the report is taken from a nationally representative sample provided by Argus Information Services.

credit card revolvers

See related:More infographics

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?

Credit Card Rate Report Updated: July 2nd, 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.