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Debt.com » Research » 1 in 3 Americans Have Maxed Out Their Credit Cards in Recent Years

1 in 3 Americans Have Maxed Out Their Credit Cards in Recent Years


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Credit card debt in the U.S. recently hit a record high: $1.13 trillion. Debt.com’s latest in-house research shows how the average American is faring during a high inflationary period.

In a survey of 1,000 adults, 1 in 3 (35%) say they’ve “maxed out their credit cards in recent years while inflation and interest rates have increased.” Of those respondents, 8 in 10 (85%) say “price increases from inflation made them use their credit cards to make ends meet.”

One in five (22%) have at least $10,000 to $20,000 worth of credit card debt. Of those, just over 5% have more than $30,000.

Key findings

  • More than 4 in 10 (45%) of all survey respondents say “price increases from inflation caused them to use credit cards to make ends meet.” That includes 2 out of every 3 (67%) Millennials and half (53%) Gen Xers.
  • 35% report having maxed out their credit cards in recent years. That’s made up of 17% Gen Z, 49% Millennials, 23% Gen Xers, and 11% of Baby Boomers.
  • Over half (55%) of all respondents need credit cards to pay for a financial emergency. Nearly 3 out of 4 (73%) are Millennials. Over half (55%) are women. 
  • More than half (51%) say inflation has “caused them to carry a larger monthly credit card balance.” Of those respondents, 3 people out of 10 (32%) have at least $10,000 to $20,000 of credit card debt. That includes 3 in 10 (31%) Millennials.  
  • Nearly 3 in 5 (58%) of all respondents have never considered Do-It-Yourself or professional credit card debt solutions like debt management and settlement programs – most of whom (48%) are Baby Boomers.
  • More respondents (41%) with at least $10,000 to $20,000 of credit card debt are Millennials.

1 in 3 credit card holders have maxed out their credit cards in recent years due to inflation.
More than 4 in 10 survey respondents say "inflation made them use their credit cards to make ends meet."
Of those who opened a credit card due to a financial emergency, the most common reason cited was a medical emergency.
More than half (55%) say they'd "need to rely on credit cards" if faced with a financial emergency.
Most respondents say their biggest reasons for using credit cards are cash back rewards, convenience, safety against fund.
Debt.com's research shows how much credit card debt the average Americans has: 1 in 5 survey respondents have $10,000 to $30,000 of credit card debt. 
Nearly 3 in 10 have between $5,000 and $10,000 credit card debt, while more than half hold between $00 and $2,500 credit card balances.
Of respondents with $10,000 to $30,000 of credit card debt, their average APR is 15-20%.
Millennials are the generation most likely to have between $10,000 and $30,000 credit card debt.
Most respondents say they were first introduced to credit cards by their parents.
Most average Americans say they were between ages 18 and 24 when they got their first credit card.
Most credit card holders who've maxed out their cards in the last few years due to inflation live in the Middle Atlantic region of the U.S.
Region States (breakdown defined by the U.S. Census Bureau)
Middle AtlanticNew York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland
PacificCalifornia, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii
South AtlanticFlorida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia
East North CentralIllinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
West South CentralArkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
MountainArizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
East South CentralAlabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
West North CentralIowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
New EnglandConnecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
For full survey results, click here
At what age did you get your first credit card?
18-2455.71%
25-3424.37%
35-4412.48%
45-544.45%
55-641.26%
65+1.74%
Who introduced you to your first credit card?
Parent(s)32.21%
Unsolicited offer21.28%
Retail store offer25.82%
School (College credit card)12.19%
Financial emergency8.51%
Select which financial emergency you’ve needed to charge on a credit card in recent years.
Medical emergency65.12%
Mechanic (Auto repair)44.19%
Appliance repair or replacement52.33%
Funeral expenses24.42%
Job loss / loss of income27.91%
What is your total credit card debt?
More than $30,0005.16%
$20,000 to $29,9995.56%
$10,000 to $19,99910.91%
$5,000 to $9,99911.81%
$2,500 to $4,99914.29%
$500 to $2,49952.28%
Do you know what your average credit card APR is?
0-14%29.07
15-20%35.71%
20-24%25.79%
Over 24%9.42%
Why do you use credit cards?Strongly DisagreeDisagreeNeither Agree Nor DisagreeAgreeStrongly Agree
They’re convenient.4.17%4.27%18.25%41.67%31.65%
I earn cashback and rewards.5.75%6.35%13.00%36.90%38.00%
It’s easy to dispute fraud.5.85%6.75%23.12%38.00%26.29%
They allow me time to make purchases I can’t afford.19.64%11.31%18.95%32.54%17.56%
I can’t pay my bills without credit them. 35.42%21.13%15.97%16.67%10.81%
Have you maxed out your credit cards in recent years while inflation and interest rates have increased?
Yes34.72%
No65.28%
Have price increases from inflation made you use your credit cards to make ends meet?
Yes45.34%
No54.66%
Has inflation caused you to carry a larger monthly credit card balance?
Yes51.39%
No48.61%
Would you need to rely on your credit card(s) if faced with a financial emergency?
Yes55.46%
No44.54%
Do you know your credit score?
Yes80.74%
No19.26%
What credit score range do you fit in?
Excellent: 800 to 85040.32%
Very good: 740 to 79929.59%
Good: 670 to 73917.63%
Fair: 580 to 66910.36%
Poor: 300 to 5792.10%
Have you considered using any of the following solutions to help with your credit card debt?
Yes, DIY plans like “debt snowball” and “debt avalanche” methods11.17%
Yes, a credit card balance transfer18.84%
Yes, a consolidation loan13.96%
Yes, credit counseling12.56%
Yes, debt settlement9.97%
No58.42%
For 2023 survey results, click here

What is your total credit card debt? Percentage of respondents
More than $30,000 5.60%
$20,000 to $29,999 6.07%
$10,000 to $19,999 9.58%
$5,000 to $9,999 11.86%
$2,500 to $4,999 11.39%
$500 to $2,499 30.27%
N/A 25.24%

Do you know what your average credit card APR is? Percentage of respondents
0-14% 16.86%
15-20% 22.10%
21-24% 24.19%
Over 24% 9.24%
I don’t know 27.62%


Have you maxed out your credit cards over the past two years while inflation and interest rates have increased? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 31.05% 68.95%


Have price increases from inflation made you use your credit cards to make ends meet? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 44.57% 55.43%


Has inflation caused you to carry a larger monthly credit card balance? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 48.67% 51.33%


Other than inflation and price hikes, have any of these reasons added to having to take on more debt? Percentage of respondents
Reduced income 27.52%
Loss of job 13.90%
Death of a family member 7.43%
Divorce or separation 6.38%
Medical issues 17.43%
N/A 53.52%


Have you considered any of the following solutions to help with your credit card debt? Percentage of respondents
Yes, DIY plans like “debt snowball” or “debt avalanche” methods 14.18%
Yes, a credit card balance transfer 18.97%
Yes, a consolidation loan 15.90%
Yes, credit counseling 6.99%
Yes, debt settlement 5.94%
No 58.14%

For 2021 survey results, click here

We’re using fewer credit cards, we’re charging less on them, and many Americans say that’s permanent.

During the pandemic, many studies and polls showed that Americans were spending less money and worrying more about their debts. A recent Debt.com/Her Money survey even suggested some of these changes might linger long after COVID-19 is just a bad memory.

In a nationwide survey with 1,000 respondents, 42 percent believe Americans have “learned how much credit cards cost in interest and fees and will permanently cut back.” Even further, compared to 2019 – the last time Debt.com ran this poll – 8 percent more said they “never or rarely hit their credit card limits.”

As expected, fewer Americans currently use credit cards at hotels and restaurants than two years ago. How much? Twenty percent less used their credit cards at hotels and 16 percent less charged restaurant meals on plastic.

What may come as a surprise: Last year, an estimated 95 percent of the population was ordered to shelter at home. But only 11 percent fewer Americans said most their credit card spending is on airfare compared to 2019.

Below are the most interesting findings from the survey…

The vast majority of respondents use credit cards

The majority believe Americans will cut back on credit card spending when the pandemic ends

One in five carry a balance between $0 and $100

More than half never – or rarely – hit the limit on their credit cards

Most respondents said they have three to five credit cards

Do you use credit cards? Percentage of respondents
No 10.26%
Yes 89.74%
When you’re shopping for a credit card, what features do you look for? Percentage of respondents
Best rewards 16.47%
More cash back 18.96%
Lower interest rate 64.57%
How many credit cards do you have? Percentage of respondents
More than 12 2.32%
Nine to 12 4.03%
Six to eight 12.30%
Two 22.68%
One 23.69%
Three to five 34.98%
How many credit cards do you actively use? Percentage of respondents
More than 12 0.20%
Nine to 12 0.50%
Six to eight 2.83%
Three to five 25.93%
Two 26.84%
One 43.69%
Have Americans learned to use credit card sparingly since the pandemic? Percentage of respondents
I don’t know 25.08%
As soon as the pandemic ends, we’ll run up bills at restaurants and retailers 33.40%
I believe we’ve learned how much interest and fees cost. We’ll permanently cut back 41.52%
What do you use your credit cards for? Percentage of respondents
Other travel costs 22.13%
Home repairs 24.65%
Airfare 26.46%
Medical expenses 30.08%
Hotels 31.29%
Gifts 33.90%
Bills/covering budget gaps 36.92%
Restaurants 45.67%
Gas 49.90%
Emergencies 51.31%
Shopping 60.76%
What is your total current credit card debt? Percentage of respondents
More than $20,000 10.53%
$101 to $500 10.83%
More than $10,000 10.93%
$5,001 to $10,000 12.84%
$2,501 to $5,000 16.05%
$501 to $2,500 17.85%
$0 to $100 20.96%
What do think the average interest rates on your credit cards are? Percentage of respondents
0 to 5 percent 8.03%
6 to 9 percent 10.84%
10 to 12 percent 12.45%
13 to 15 percent 17.17%
More than 20 percent 21.49%
16 to 20 percent 30.02%
Do you ever hit the limit on your credit cards? Percentage of respondents
I have hit a limit in the past six months 6.26%
I have hit a limit in the past three months 7.68%
I hit my credit limit monthly 8.79%
I have hit a limit in the past year 19.49%
I never or rarely hit my credit limits 57.78%
Have you ever used a balance transfer offer to consolidate debt? Percentage of respondents
Yes 37.07%
No 62.93%
On the card you transferred the balance from, did you continue to use that card for purchases? Percentage of respondents
Yes 42.12%
No 57.88%
Did you pay off the balance transfer before the teaser rate expired? Percentage of respondents
No 38.90%
Yes 61.10%
When was the last time you signed up for a new credit card? Percentage of respondents
Yesterday 1.91%
Last month 8.79%
In the past 13 to 18 months 11.23%
In the past seven to 12 months 13.56%
In the past two to six months 15.25%
It’s been over five years 22.35%
It’s been over two years 26.91%
Which credit card company has the best customer service? Percentage of respondents
Wells Fargo 1.91%
Citibank 4.13%
Bank of America 4.56%
American Express 9.64%
Chase 11.97%
Discover 14.72%
Capital One 23.73%
Not applicable 29.34%
Which credit card company has the worst customer service? Percentage of respondents
Citibank 3.50%
Discover 3.61%
American Express 4.56%
Chase 5.52%
Capital One 6.79%
Wells Fargo 11.25%
Bank of America 13.16%
Not applicable 51.59%
Have you ever used a credit monitoring service? Percentage of respondents
Yes 39.26%
No 60.74%
Do you believe that the information in your credit report is accurate? Percentage of respondents
No 21.27%
Yes 78.73%
When was the last time you reviewed your credit report? Percentage of respondents
Never 5.93%
In the past five years 6.24%
In the past two years 10.48%
In the past year 18.10%
In the past six months 59.26%
Do you know that you can receive a free annual credit report guaranteed by federal law? Percentage of respondents
No 15.56%
Yes 84.44%

Methodology:  Debt.com surveyed 1,003 people and asked 19 questions about their credit card spending. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. The survey was conducted from Jan. 17, 2021 to March 22, 2021.

For 2019 survey results, click here

For Debt.com’s second annual Credit Card Survey, there was good news and bad news – but the bad news really sticks out.

When comparing 2019’s results to 2018’s, Americans are doing better in several areas. For starters, 10 percent more are wisely searching for the lowest interest rate when shopping for a new credit card. Last year, 58 percent did that. This year, it’s up to 68 percent.

However, the greatest swing in responses came from a crucial question: How often do you hit your credit limit? With the Great Recession in the rearview mirror, you’d think fewer Americans would be bumping up against the most they can borrow. Sadly, that’s not the case.

In 2018, 64 percent of respondents never or rarely hit their credit limit. In 2019, it’s down to less than half – 49 percent. Below are the other results, based on responses from nearly 1,400 U.S. adults.

How many Americans use credit cards?

Do you use credit cards?
Yes 84.56%
No 15.44%

What features do consumers look for when they shop for a credit card?

On a positive note, most consumers look for low interest rates when shopping for credit cards. The lower the interest rate the easier it is to pay off credit card debt. That’s because you can focus on the principal, not the interest charges for borrowing money.

When you’re shopping for a credit card, what features do you look for?
Lowest interest rate 68.37%
Most cash back 14.33%
Best rewards 17.30%

How many credit cards does the average American have?

Most Americans have more credit cards that financial experts recommend. The rule of thumb is to have only 2-3. However, Debt.com’s survey findings reveal most have more than that.

How many credit cards do you have?
1 15.35%
2 20.74%
3-5 41.58%
6-8 15.35%
9-12 3.81%
More than 12 3.16%

Do most people actively use all the cards they have?

Just because Americans have more credit cards than experts recommend, that doesn’t mean they use them. Our survey results show that most just keep them instead of actively charging up a balance.

How many credit cards do you actively use?
1 31.94%
2 32.50%
3-5 31.56%
6-8 3.35%
9-12 0.19%
More than 12 0.47%

Why do people use credit cards?

There is more than one reason why people use credit cards. Unfortunately, most survey respondents use them for the wrong type of spending – daily expenses and emergencies. It’s dangerous to do because emergencies always get more expensive and trap people in debt.

What do you use your credit cards for? Check all that apply.
Hotels 51.64%
Airfare 37.70%
Other travel costs 33.77%
Restaurants 61.18%
Home repairs 29.65%
Medical expenses 33.86%
Emergencies 59.21%
Bills / covering budget gaps 42.66%
Gifts 42.75%
Shopping 69.50%
Gas 58.84%

How much credit card debt does the average American have?

The average credit card debt per U.S. household is $5,700, according to financial data site ValuePenguin.[1] And when it drilled down on households that carry balances from month to month, that averages shoots up to $9,300.

But if you look only at households that carry credit card balances, that average jumps $9,300. Now our survey results show that nearly three-fifths (59%) of people have balances less than $5,000, and 44% owe $2,500 or less.

What is your total current credit card debt?
$0-$100 11.32%
$101-$500 11.23%
$501-$2,500 21.51%
$2,501-$5,000 15.38%
$5,001-$10,000 18.02%
More than $10,000 13.21%
More than $20,000 9.34%

What is the average interest rate on your credit cards?

The national average credit card interest rate usually fluctuates between 16%-18% APR, according to CreditCards.com.[2] But if you use reward credit cards, your rates may often be more than 20% APR.

At the same time, if you have low interest rate credit cards, your average credit card rates could very well be in the 13%-15% range. A big shock is how many survey respondents who say their average rate is even lower.

What do you think is the average interest rates on your credit cards?
0-5% 6.33%
6%-9% 8.79%
10%-12% 13.42%
13%-15% 20.32%
16%-20% 26.47%
More than 20% 24.67%

How often do consumers go over their credit limit?

Maxing out your cards will hurt your credit score. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit limit lower than 30%. It’s also bad to carry balances month to month. Unfortunately, the amount of respondents who never or rarely hit their credit limit has gone down by 15 percentage points since last year’s survey.

Do you ever hit the credit limit on your credit cards?
I never or rarely hit my credit limits 49.01%
I have hit a limit in the past year 16.84%
I have hit a limit in the past 6 months 8.23%
I have hit a limit in the past 3 months 14.29%
I hit my credit limit monthly 11.64%

Do people know about balance transfers?

Balance transfer credit cards can be used to consolidate credit card balances into one new one with a lower APR. Some even offer 0% APR introductory periods, which gives consumers the ability to pay off debt without interest.

Have you ever used a balance transfer offer to consolidate debt?
Yes 38.45%
No 61.55%

Do people continue to use the cards that transferred the balance away from?

Most people stay away from using a credit card that they transferred their balance away from. Yet still, only by a small percent difference.

On the card that you transferred the balance from, did you continue to use that card for purchases?
Yes 41.23%
No 58.77%

Do consumers use balance transfers the right way?

The bad news is that only a third of respondents have used a balance transfer for their credit card debt. However, the good news is they’re using them correctly. Roughly three out of five (61%) pay their balance off before the offer expired.

Did you pay off the balance transfer before the teaser rate expired?
Yes 61.04%
No 38.96%

How often do Americans sign up for credit cards?

Constantly applying for new credit cards can raise red flags to banks and credit card companies. It can look as though your a risk to lend money to. On the other hand, keeping the same cards for too long without looking for better offers could leave you missing on some great new rewards and credit card offers.

The majority of our survey respondents seem to be in a good spot when it comes to how long they wait to sign up for new cards.

When was the last time you signed up for a new credit card?
Yesterday 1.13%
Last month 7%
In the past 2-6 months 13.12%
In the past 7-12 months 13.45%
In the past 13-18 months 15.06%
It’s been over 2 years 25.68%
It’s been over 5 years 24.56%

Which credit card company do Americans favor for customer service?

Customer service is important when dealing with any business, but especially when it can make the difference when disputing inaccurate charges or negotiating new credit lines or fees. Here are the credit card companies that our survey respondents felt were the best:

Which credit card company has the best customer service?
Capital One 25.41%
Chase 12.91%
Discover 17.21%
Citibank 4.95%
American Express 7.55%
Bank of America 5.11%
Wells Fargo 3.17%
N/A 31.98%

Which credit card companies do Americans feel have the worst customer service?

We also asked in our survey which credit card companies consumers felt had the worst customer service. Here’s what they had to say:

Which credit card company has the worst customer service?
Capital One 7.03%
Chase 5.31%
Discover 2.37%
Citibank 3.76%
American Express 3.10%
Bank of America 9.31%
Wells Fargo 10.29%
N/A 58.82%

Do people use credit monitoring services?

Nowadays there are so many different credit monitoring services to choose from. Some are free, like Credit Karma. Others are paid services, like LifeLock. We’re happy to see that more respondents are using these services than last year’s poll.

Have you ever used a credit monitoring service?
Yes 59.66%
No 40.34%

Do consumers trust that their credit reports are accurate?

One out of every four credit reports have errors in them, according to a 2013 study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission.[3]

The congressional research also revealed that 1 in 5 Americans have inaccurate information in one of their credit reports that can drag down their credit score. Although it’s vital to regularly check your credit, most respondents believe the three credit bureaus correctly report their information.

Do you believe that the information in your credit report is accurate?
Yes 53.59%
No 12.99%
Not sure 33.42%

How often do consumers review their credit report?

Americans are able to review their credit for free once yearly through annualcreditreport.com.[4] It seems to be helping most of our poll respondents – they regularly check.

When was the last time you reviewed your credit report?
In the past six months 54.07%
In the past year 17.91%
In the past 2 years 10.76%
In the past 5 years 11.18%
Never 6.08%

Do consumers know that free credit reports are guaranteed by federal law?

Just because the government mandates programs doesn’t mean all Americans are aware of them. However, the majority of Debt.com’s survey respondents are aware that they legally can get their credit report yearly for free.

Do you know that you can receive a free annual credit report guaranteed by federal law?
Yes 83.07%
No 16.93%

Methodology

Debt.com polled 1,408 U.S. adults online using SurveyMonkey. The survey was open from May 24, 2019 through July 15, 2019.

For 2018 survey results, click here

Debt.com’s 2018 credit card survey

Credit cards are extremely convenient, but they also have the potential to create serious debt problems for consumers when they’re not used correctly. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revolving debt topped $1 trillion at the end of last year, and most of that debt comes from credit cards. Experts warn that this could spell trouble for consumers if the economy takes a turn. But at least for now credit card delinquency rates are falling.

So, to find out what’s really true when it comes to consumers and credit cards, Debt.com and Money Talks News partnered up to conduct a nationwide survey of over 4,500 U.S. adults to ask about their perspectives on credit cards and credit card debt. Out of the responses, two risky bad credit habits stood out:

Debt.com's 2018 credit card survey infographic: How to lose money by doing nothing

Full credit card survey results

Below you can find the full results to all the questions from Debt.com’s 2018 Credit Card Survey.

How many Americans use credit cards?

Following the Great Recession, some experts predicted that credit card use would become less popular, especially among Millennials. However, according to our findings, most Americans still believe in the power of their plastic.

Do you use credit cards?
Yes 84.86%
No 15.14%

What features do consumers look for when they shop for a credit card?

The good news is that when consumers shop for a new credit card, most focus on the right thing: low interest rates. A low rate makes it easier to pay of credit card debt because more of each payment goes to elimiante principal, rather than accured interest charges.

What is the main feature you look for when you shop for a new credit card? %
Lowest interest rate 58.11%
Most cash back 20.28%
Best rewards 21.61%

How many credit cards does the average American have?

Most experts recommend that you really only need 2-3 credit cards because any more than that creates too much potential for debt problems. However, Debt.com’s findings show that the marjority of people may have more accounts than they really need.

How many credit cards do you have?
1 13.46%
2 22.97%
3-5 43.95%
6-8 13.15%
9-12 3.99%
More than 12 2.48%

Do most people actively use all the cards they have?

While many Americans have more cards than most experts would recommend, that doesn’t mean that they’re actively using all those cards. In reality, only a few cards are actively used, even when a person has a wallet full of plastic.

How many credit cards do you actively use?
1 33.01%
2 34.93%
3-5 28.32%
6-8 2.71%
9-12 0.74%
More than 12 0.28%

Why do people use credit cards?

Credit cards don’t just serve one purpose, and as a result, credit card use has become an integral part of our daily lives. In some cases, they may be used strategically. But unfortunately, they often get used to cover daily expenses and emergencies. This type of use can be dangerous because unexpected expenses always inevitably arise.

What do you use your credit cards for? Check all that apply.
Hotels 57.69%
Airfare 47.98%
Other travel costs 45.30%
Restaurants 65.00%
Home repairs 40.97%
Medical expenses 40.61%
Emergencies 58.43%
Bills / covering budget gaps 38.83%
Gifts 52.18%
Shopping 76.67%

How much credit card debt does the average American have?

According to our friends at ValuePenguin, the average credit card debt per household is $5,700. But if you only at households that carry credit card balances, that average jumps $9,300. But according to Debt.com’s results, nearly two thirds (66%) of people we polled had balances of less than $5,000 and almost 40% had a balances of $1,000 or less.

What is your total current credit card debt?
$0-$100 21.95%
$101-$500 8.89%
$501-$1,000 8.79%
$1,001-$3,000 15.62%
$3,001-$5,000 10.25%
$5,001-$10,000 13.35%
$10,001-$15,000 7.46%
$15,001-$20,000 4.30%
$20,001-$25,000 2.92%
$25,001-$30,000 1.36%
$30,001-$35,000 1.28%
$35,001-$40,000 1.02%
$40,001-$45,000 0.44%
$45,001-$50,000 0.63%
$50,001-$100,000 0.31%

What is the average interest rate on your credit cards?

According to CreditCards.com, the national average credit card interest rate usually fluctuates between 16-18% APR. But if you use reward credit cards, your rates may often be over 20% APR. At the same time, if you have low interest rate credit cards, then your average creidt card rates could easily be in the 13-15% range. What’s suprising is the number of respondents that reported their average rate was even lower than that. Either these respondents have extremely good credit and negotiating skills for getting lower rates, or this may show that many people underestimate how much credit really costs them.

What do you think is the average interest rates on your credit cards?
0-5% 7.37%
6-9% 10.58%
10-12% 16.98%
13-15% 21.60%
16-20% 26.52%
Over 20% 16.95%

How often do consumers go over their credit limit?

Hitting your credit limit is bad for your debt and your credit score. In general, utilizing anymore than 30% of an available credit limit is bad for your score. Ideally, you really don’t want to carry balances over month to month. But we were pleased to see that almost a third of survey respondents never or rarely get close to their credit limits.

Do you ever hit the credit limit on your credit cards?
I never or rarely hit my credit limits 64.20%
I have hit a limit in the past year 12.57%
I have hit a limit in the past 6 months 4.98%
I have hit a limit in the past 3 months 9.95%
I hit my credit limits every month 8.30%

Do people know about balance transfers?

Balance transfer credit cards allow a consumer to consolidate existing credit card balances on a new card with lower APR. Often, these credit cards offer 0% APR introductory periods where you can pay off debt interest-free.

Have you ever used a balance transfer to consolidate debt?
Yes 35.20%
No 64.80%

Do consumers use balance transfers the right way?

While only more than a third of respondents have used a balance transfer, the good news is that the majority use them correctly. That means paying off the balance in full before the end of the 0% APR teaser rate.

Did you pay off the balance transfer before the teaser rate expired?
Yes 67.66%
No 32.34%

How often do Americans sign up for credit cards?

When it comes to using credit strategically, there’s a sweet spot when it comes to shopping for credit. You don’t want to constantly shop for new cards because it creates a risk for too much debt. On the other hand, you don’t want to use your cards for decades without shopping around. You could miss out on new reward programs and features. But at least with our respondents, shopping for new credit is a rarity.

When was the last time you signed up for a new credit card?
Yesterday 0.74%
Last month 6.40%
In the past 2-6 months 11.08%
In the past 7-12 months 11.72%
In the past 13-18 months 11.92%
It’s been over 2 years 23.05%
It’s been over 5 years 35.07%

Do people use credit monitoring services?

Credit monitoring services allow consumers to track changes in their credit score and review their credit reports more regularly. There are paid services, like LifeLock, and free services, like Credit Karma. But do people really use these services to strategically build credit?

Have you ever used a credit monitoring service?
Yes 46.48%
No 53.52%

Do consumers trust that their credit reports are accurate?

A 2013 FTC study found that one in four credit reports contain an error and one in five have an error that would hurt a consumer’s credit score. That’s why it’s so important to review your credit often. Unfortunately, most people seem to trust the bureaus to get it right.

Do you believe that the information in your credit report is accurate?
Yes 57.46%
No 10.69%
Not sure 31.85%

How often do consumers review their credit report?

With free annual credit reports through annualcreditreport.com, consumers can review their credit without any strings attached once per year. And the majority of the people we polled stay on top of their credit.

When was the last time you reviewed your credit report?
In the past six months 50.26%
In the past year 20.41%
In the past 2 years 11.43%
In the past 5 years 12.14%
Never 5.76%

Do consumers know that free credit reports are guaranteed by federal law?

Often the biggest problem with government mandated programs is that consumers don’t know they exist. It’s the reason that the Government Accountability Office says that over half of student loan borrowers may be overpaying. But when it comes to knowing about free credit reports, most consumers are in the know.

Do you know that you can receive a free annual credit report guaranteed by federal law?
Yes 85.99%
No 14.03%

Methodology

Debt.com partnered with Money Talks News to poll 4,462 U.S. adults online using SurveyMonkey. The survey was open from June 19, 2018 to July 9, 2018.


Source:

Methodology: Debt.com surveyed 1,000 credit card holders about how high inflation has impacted on their debt. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC, and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. The survey was conducted on February 27, 2024.

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