BACK

martin-dm / E+ / Getty Images

Research and Statistics

Consumers still using stimulus checks to pay off credit card debt

Bloomberg poll shows nearly 1 in 5 say they’ll pay down balances with relief funds, while 34% plan to save that money

Summary

As many Americans receive a third cash infusion of relief money, more of the funds are going into savings than when the first checks were cut. But what hasn’t changed is the significant share of consumers who say they’re applying stimulus funds to their credit card debt.

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.

As many Americans receive a third cash infusion of COVID-19 relief money, it’s true that more of the funds are reportedly going into savings than when the first checks were cut.

But what hasn’t changed is the significant share of consumers who say they’re applying stimulus funds to their credit card debt.

Almost 1 in 5 continue to put stimulus toward card debt

According to surveys by Bloomberg News, almost a fifth of U.S. adults receiving a first pandemic relief check last spring (18%) said they would put some or all of the money toward their card balances.

Fast forward to the new round of stimulus checks that are hitting accounts now, and the share who say they’ll pay down card debt with these funds is the same 18%.

“Federal stimulus payments have been immensely helpful to people trying to meet their (debt) obligations,” says Rob Strand, senior economist for the American Bankers Association. “The low delinquencies we’ve seen since the onset of COVID-19 reflect that.”

See related: How to get your stimulus check faster

The only other category remaining unchanged between the first and third stimulus checks is home improvements, cited by 11% of respondents in each survey.

Savings is the largest stand-alone use of the latest round of stimulus cash, with more than a third of recipients (34%) saying they will put at least some of the cash toward savings. That’s up from 23% last April.

But if you combine the basic necessities of food, housing and clothing, 6 in 10 current check recipients (60%) say they will use the funds for these purposes. That’s down just slightly from 64% after the first pandemic relief check.

Categories that have seen slight upticks from the first check to the third are investment in the stock market, up from 4% last spring to 6% now, and taking a vacation or trip, up from 3% to 5%.

Bloomberg’s surveys were conducted by Morning Consult, with the latest installment administered in early February. Results were released Feb. 11.

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

How to pay off credit card debt: 3 best strategies

Tackling credit card debt requires a strategy. Whichever one you choose, make sure to stick to it.

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report
Business
14.22%
Airline
15.51%
Cash Back
16.10%
Reward
15.90%
Student
16.78%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more