Most Americans Say Credit Cards Cause Guilt and Stress - polled more than 1,000 Americans on their mental health and money. Two-thirds admit to impulsively using their credit cards on purchases they later regret.

To support Mental Health Awareness Month, asked Americans how their money affects them psychologically. Turns out, simply swiping a card can take a load off in the moment but lead to stress later on.

Nearly 3 in 4 survey respondents say the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health. More than a third feel sad or guilty after using their cards, for 1 in 4 that means charging up to $5,000 in credit card debt when feeling stressed or sad.

“The convenience of credit cards cuts both ways,” says Don Silvestri, president of “More than ever, you don’t even need the piece of plastic to run up huge bills. Time was, ’shopping therapy’ required actually going to a store. Now you can do that from your phone in bed.”

The survey’s key findings:

  • Over 30% says they avoid looking at their credit card bills because it’s too painful.
  • Over 21% of people feel stressed after using credit cards and an additional 20% feel guilty.
  • Over 45% of those who avoid looking at their statements, have missed a credit card payment because they couldn’t bring themselves to look at the statement balance.
  • Nearly 20% applied for new credit because they were sad or stressed.

“When you incur debts while you’re feeling terrible, it never makes you feel better,” Silvestri says. “It not only affects your mental health, but it can spread to your loved ones.”

Find the full survey results below…

Nearly 3 in 4 say the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health



1 in 4 have taken on $1,000 to $5,000 of debt due to impulse shopping while feeling down



Almost 4 in 10 say their credit cards make them feel stressed



1 in 5 avoid conversations about future money plans like buying a home



How do you feel after using your credit card(s)? Percentage of respondents
Content 53.20%
Stressed 21.39%
Guilty 19.01%
Sad 5.64%
Embarrassed 0.76%
How do your credit card bills affect you? Percentage of respondents
Makes me feel stressed 38.59%
Makes me feel sad 6.78%
Makes me feel hopeless 6.40%
Loss of sleep 2.58%
Loss of appetite 0.86%
Lower self-esteem 2.01%
None of the above 42.79%
How does credit card debt affect you socially? Percentage of respondents
My significant other and I argue over my credit card spending 3.15%
I avoid dating 5.16%
I hide my credit card spending from my significant other 5.83%
I avoid going out with friends or family 10.32%
I avoid talking about money or my future plans (buying a home, starting a family, moving, etc.) 19.01%
My credit card debt doesn’t affect my social life 56.54%
Do you avoid looking at your credit card bill because it is too painful to do so? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 32.38% 67.62%
Have you missed a credit card payment because you just couldn’t bring yourself to look at the balance? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 46.31% 53.69%
Have you ever applied for new credit cards because you were sad or stressed? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 19.10% 80.90%
How often do you impulsively buy items or services with your credit card that you later regret? Percentage of respondents
Once a week 8.40%
Monthly 18.15%
Few times a year 39.73%
Never 33.72%
How much debt have you incurred from impulse shopping because you were feeling down or stressed out? Percentage of respondents
$1-$1,000 51.44%
$1,000-$5,000 24.93%
$5,000-$10,000 13.26%
$10,000-$15,000 4.18%
$15,000-$20,000 2.88%
More than $20,000 3.31%
Do you think the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 74.40% 25.60%

Methodology: surveyed more than 1,000 Americans and asked nine questions about their credit card spending affects their mental health. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. Percentages were rounded up to the nearest whole number and might not total 100 percent.