March 20, 2023

Full disclosure: I like bank cards virtually as a lot as I like bank card statistics. I’ve a number of cash-back bank cards, a number of journey rewards bank cards, a fuel bank card (which doubles as my Costco bank card), and some others too. I’m truthfully undecided off the highest of my head what number of energetic bank card accounts I’ve.

I additionally take care to pay my bank cards on time and in full. I don’t recall ever carrying a bank card stability exterior of an introductory 0% APR supply interval. It’s doable I did after I was a lot youthful, however I’ve by no means been in vital bank card debt.

These two details — my overstuffed pockets and fastidious on-time, in-full funds — put me in a small minority of American bank card customers. Most have far fewer playing cards to their title, and about two in 5 carry interest-bearing balances. If you happen to’re interested in how your personal bank card utilization compares to the standard U.S. cardholder’s, you’re in the appropriate place.

Credit score Card Statistics on Common Debt in America — $2,810 Per Particular person and Over $6,000 Per Cardholder

Our current evaluation of U.S. bank card debt traits discovered that People’ complete excellent bank card debt is $930 billion as of Q2 2022 (and rising). Divided by the approximate U.S. inhabitants of 331 million, that works out to a mean bank card debt load of about $2,810 per individual.

credit card statistics - U.S. Credit Card Debt In Billions
Supply: Federal Reserve Bank of NY

In fact, not all People can or do use bank cards. Many are too younger — you typically need to be 18 or older to qualify for a bank card — and a few can’t qualify resulting from very low credit score scores, no credit score historical past, or different elements. So the typical bank card debt load amongst precise bank card customers is way increased: greater than $6,000, and nonetheless rising.

As we see from the chart above, People collectively have extra bank card debt than at any level because the Federal Reserve Financial institution of New York started monitoring it. This isn’t in and of itself a foul factor, however with bank card rates of interest at historic highs and common accessible credit score strains rising quickly, it’s a possible monetary menace for tens of millions because the U.S. financial system slows and job losses speed up.

Credit score Playing cards Outnumber Debit Playing cards by About 3:1

Once more, not all People have any bank cards to their title. As a result of much more have a minimum of one checking account — fewer than 10% of People stay unbanked or underbanked — you would possibly assume there are extra debit playing cards in circulation than bank cards.

You’d be unsuitable. There are about 3 times as many bank cards as debit playing cards in American wallets, and the hole has really widened lately. In 2019, the latest 12 months for which we now have information, there have been 1.08 billion bank cards (together with debit playing cards with a credit score perform) in circulation, in contrast with simply 325.4 million debit-only playing cards.

Credit Card Statistics - Number Of Credit Cards Vs. Debit Cards

It’s clear that American shoppers favor the pliability of credit score to debit-only playing cards, which instantly deduct funds out of your checking account and don’t assist you to run a stability. It is a double-edged sword, providing fee flexibility and doubtlessly profitable rewards on the one hand, and the chance of pricy, even crippling high-interest debt on the opposite.

Credit score Card Statistics About Fraud — About 7% of Card Spending Is Fraud

Based on Nilson Report, roughly $6.80 is misplaced to fraud for each $100 spent on bank cards in america. Put one other means, about 6.8% of all U.S. bank card spending is fraudulent.

The bank card fraud price has ticked down since 2016, when it hit a excessive of seven.2%. But it surely stays a lot increased than in 2010, when simply 4.5% of U.S. bank card spending was misplaced to fraud.

Credit Card Statistics - Fraud Losses Per 100 U.S. Dollars
Supply: Nilson Report

Thankfully, particular person bank card customers don’t lose $6.80 for each $100 they spend on bank cards. (Bank card utilization would shortly collapse have been this the case.) The US has strict client safety legal guidelines that mainly require bank card corporations to soak up fraud losses on their very own stability sheets.

That is an unwelcome however manageable danger for bank card corporations. It’s certainly one of many elements within the inexorable rise in bank card rates of interest and interchange charges lately, as bank card issuers look to make up income misplaced to fraud.

Common Credit score Card Statistics on Curiosity Charges — 19.1%, At present at Historic Highs

Turning again to carried balances: We’ve seen a speedy, regarding rise in rates of interest on bank card balances since early 2022. The common rate of interest on all open U.S. bank card accounts was 19.1% (and nonetheless climbing) in November 2022

In actual fact, in response to our current evaluation of common bank card rates of interest by 12 months, bank card rates of interest are as excessive as they’ve ever been — and by a major margin.

Credit Card Statistics - Commercial Bank Interest Rate On Credit Card Plans
Supply: St. Louis Fed

From when the Federal Reserve Financial institution of St. Louis started monitoring bank card rates of interest in 1994 till 2022, common charges remained under 17.5%. Nevertheless, as soon as the Federal Reserve started elevating the federal funds price in March 2022, bank card charges skyrocketed — gaining almost 400 foundation factors (4%) in lower than a 12 months. 

That is unsurprising as a result of bank card charges are more and more intently linked to the federal funds price, nevertheless it’s deeply regarding for People whose bank card balances now value considerably extra on a month-to-month foundation.

Extra Credit score on Credit score Playing cards Is Accessible Now Than Ever

With rates of interest at all-time highs, you’d assume bank card customers would pull again, or that issuers would tighten the credit score faucet for worry that marginal customers would possibly fall behind on their funds or default on their money owed.

That would nonetheless occur, particularly if the U.S. financial system suggestions into recession, however we see no proof of it up to now. Based on information collected by the Federal Reserve Financial institution of New York, accessible credit score has steadily elevated since 2010 — from about $2 trillion in Q1 of that 12 months to about $3.5 trillion in This autumn of 2022.

Credit Card Statistics - Credit Available In Trillion U.s. Dollars By Quarter
Supply: New York Fed

In different phrases, have been each bank card person in America to abruptly determine to max out each bank card they owned, they might collectively spend almost twice as a lot at present as they might have in early 2010.

Most People don’t max out their bank cards and even come shut, which is why complete excellent bank card debt stays under $1 trillion at present. That’s roughly 30% of the theoretical complete, which is why we are saying People’ complete bank card utilization is roughly 30%.

It could be dangerous if credit score utilization charges climbed a lot farther. Larger credit score utilization is an indication of monetary stress on the macro degree: shoppers’ bills rising quicker than their incomes, unemployed or underemployed individuals placing primary bills on bank cards after draining their financial institution accounts, and so forth. Bank card delinquency charges typically rise to match.

Sadly, because of inflation, costs are nonetheless rising quicker than incomes, and unemployment is broadly anticipated to rise in 2023 and 2024 because the financial system slows. It’s wanting increasingly like bank card delinquency charges — not too long ago at multidecade lows — have bottomed out in the meanwhile. They might quickly rise in a giant means.

Delinquency Charges Have Largely Declined Since 2009 — However They’re Rising Once more

The bank card delinquency price — the share of bank card accounts greater than 30 days late on funds — touched a 30-year low of 1.55% in Q3 2021. Again then, American shoppers have been nonetheless flush with pandemic stimulus and inflation was solely simply awakening from its decade-long slumber.

Immediately, it’s a really completely different world. Delinquencies stay low by historic requirements — 2.08% as of Q3 2022 — however they’re rising quick on a steepening curve. On the present tempo, the U.S. bank card delinquency price will prime its 10-year excessive water mark — 2.66%, set in Q1 2020 — by the tip of 2023.

Credit Card Statistics - Delinquency Rate Of Credit Card Loans
Supply: St. Louis Fed

What occurs subsequent is anybody’s guess. Right here’s mine: By means of 2024, bank card delinquency charges will climb farther and quicker than mortgage delinquency charges, topping out between 3.3% and three.6% someday in 2024. They’ll stay elevated by current historic requirements even after the comparatively shallow recession of late 2023 and early 2024 ends, much like the hangover that adopted the Nice Monetary Disaster of 2008.

Again then, bank card delinquency charges touched 6.77% in Q2 2009. They fell briskly after that, passing 4% by early 2011, however didn’t backside out till early 2015. As a result of they received’t race as excessive this time, I don’t anticipate a fast fall both, although by late 2025 I feel we’ll see delinquency charges again under 2.5% and roughly regular.

Credit score Scores Are At All-Time Excessive and Nonetheless Climbing

One essential purpose I don’t anticipate bank card delinquency charges to strategy GFC-era highs is as a result of People’ credit score scores have by no means been increased, a minimum of since our data started. The common FICO rating hit 714 in 2021 and continued climbing in 2022 and 2023 — solidly inside the “good” credit score vary (670 to 739).

The regular progress in FICO scores because the GFC is partly resulting from People’ slowly however steadily enhancing stability sheets (particularly after a number of rounds of pandemic stimulus) and partly resulting from enhancements in credit score underwriting, which have not directly helped shoppers use credit score extra responsibly. People are each smarter about how they use credit score at present and fewer depending on dangerous leverage — specifically, bank cards and adjustable-rate dwelling fairness merchandise — than they have been within the 2000s.

The get together received’t final for much longer. As inflation continues to erode buying energy, recession looms, and delinquencies enhance, I anticipate the typical FICO rating to dip barely into 2025 whereas nonetheless remaining comfortably above 700. However don’t search for a repeat of the GFC and its aftermath.

Remaining Phrase

All issues thought of, American bank card customers are in fairly good condition. They’ve entry to extra credit score than ever but aren’t utilizing most of it, their credit score scores are excessive and rising, they’re overwhelmingly on time with their funds, and powerful client safety legal guidelines guarantee they don’t have to fret about fraud within the overwhelming majority of instances
Then once more, it’s possible that the current second is an unusually sunny one for bank card customers. With rising financial headwinds and main indicators of monetary stress changing into harder to disregard, to not point out already sky-high rates of interest pressuring of us who carry balances, I anticipate U.S. bank card customers to have a rougher go of it in 2023 and 2024. If you happen to’re at a monetary crossroads, now’s the time to lastly get critical about paying down your bank card debt.