Credit card ownership and usage statistics

Credit cards are a handy tool for covering the cost of unexpected financial emergencies and spreading large payments over time. However, access to credit may differ from person to person. Age, income level, gender and race tend to influence the number of credit cards held.

Here’s an overview of the state of credit card ownership in the United States

Key Credit Card Statistics

Most popular type of credit card

Americans tend to favor a wide variety of credit cards, but cash back credit cards are often the most popular option. According to Bankrate’s December 2021 Credit Card Features Survey, more than 4 in 10 US adults (41%) said cash back was their favorite credit card feature. This was by far the most popular answer.

The right credit card for every consumer depends on the introductory offers they can avail of (think: interest-free periods or bonus points), as well as which card best suits and rewards their daily spending needs. A consumer might see a greater benefit from having a card that rewards their gas and grocery purchases than a card that rewards their travel purchases. And anyone who tends to carry a balance would benefit the most from a low-interest credit card.

Average number of credit cards per person

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that in 2020, 79% of consumers had at least one credit or charge card, which is the highest percentage since the Fed began surveying the consumer payment choices in 2008. While the number of cards in Americans’ wallets varies by generation, credit score and other factors, the average American has three credit cards and 2.3 store cards detail, according to a Survey 2021 by credit bureau Experian.

Average number of credit cards by state

According to the same Experian survey, consumers in New Jersey have the most credit card accounts, with an average total of 4.54 accounts. Alaska was at the other end of the spectrum, with an average of 3.06 credit card accounts.

Average number of credit cards by age

Without surprise, Experian found Baby boomers tend to have more credit cards than younger generations. In addition to longer credit histories, older consumers generally have higher credit scores than younger consumers, giving them access to a wider range of credit cards.

However, Gen Z consumers are opening new credit card accounts at a faster rate than older cardholders. Many experts attribute this change to more Gen Zers reaching adulthood and becoming old enough to apply for a new card.

Here is an overview of the average number of cards held by each generation.

baby boomers 3.4
Generation X 3.3
Generation Y 2.7
Generation Z 1.7

Average number of credit cards by gender

the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits discrimination in credit based on a variety of factors, including gender and sexual orientation. And on average, women have more open credit card accounts than men. according to Experian.

However, credit limits are an area of ​​disparity between cardholders of different genders. the Foundation of the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia men have credit limits $1,323 higher than women, on average. Experts have suggested that one of the reasons for this gap could be the lack of equal pay.

Average number of credit cards by race/ethnicity

Although the ECOA also prohibits discrimination based on race or ethnicity, access to credit can vary significantly by racial group. While race itself doesn’t directly lower one’s score, black and Hispanic consumers are more often impacted by financial burdens that can prevent them from making on-time payments and maintaining creditworthiness. Factors such as massive student debt, high interest rates on loans, and living paycheck to paycheck are a few root causes. People of color are also more likely to be “credit invisible,” that is, to have no credit history.

Here is an overview of how credit card membership varies from group to group, according to the Federal Reserve.

White 87%
Hispanic 76%
Black 72%
Asian 92%
Other 83%

Average number of credit cards by income

Income plays a key role in an issuer’s decision, as it tends to equate higher income with a greater likelihood that a cardholder will pay off their balance in full and get their money back.

Here’s a look at the proportion of adults with a credit card in each income bracket, according to the Federal Reserve.

Less than $25,000 56%
$25,000 to $49,999 85%
$50,000 to $99,000 94%
$100,000 or more 98%

The bottom line

A variety of factors can directly and indirectly influence the number of credit cards one has. However, one thing is clear: credit cards, when used responsibly, can help you meet your daily needs and build a positive credit history that will open doors for you in the future.

Dora W. Clawson