Credit Card Statistics

(Updated September 2019) 

American credit card usage has gone down slightly in recent years. With the majority of credit cards in use being rewards credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, more purchases than ever are taking place on credit cards. The average credit card debt is higher than it’s ever been. Check out our average credit card debt statistics page to find any relevant credit card debt statistic. 

On this page, you’ll find credit card ownership statistics, along with the number of credit cards in use, how many credit cards the average person has and the leading issuing banks, how many cards each bank has.

Additionally, you can find how many credit cards in use each brand has, how many credit card users each card brand has, the market share of each credit card brand and the average number of cards by generation.

Quick Credit Card statistics

  • 1.06 billion credit cards in use in America
  • 2.8 billion credit cards in use worldwide
  • Mastercard has the most credit cards in circulation worldwide at 551 million
  • 70% of people have at least one credit card
  • Americans are 40% likely to use a credit card on a purchase
  • 14% of Americans have at least 10 credit cards
  • 60% of Americans believe the US will soon become a cashless society

Americans and Credit Cards

With more credit cards in use today than in the last two surveyed times, it is easy to guess that the national average credit card debt is also rising. Unsurprisingly, the national average household credit card debt sits at $5,331. Out of the countries in the top 10 GDP,  the USA’s average credit card debt is almost $1,200 more than the second highest country. While less people are getting credit cards than in years past, the average credit card debt by person continues to grow. 

credit cards in circulation

People are finding that they don’t need as many credit cards as they once thought they did. That is evident in that the average American has 2.7 credit cards, down a whole card from 3.7 in 2009. However, as the prevalence of reward cards continues to grow and consumers get more back on their purchases, they will spend more on these cards and thus create more debt by doing so.

number of credit cards per person in USA

What Percent of the US Population has a Credit Card?

70% of the United States population carries a credit card. The majority of the population carries at least one type of credit card, with 34% of Americans carrying 3 or more cards. Most Americans carry more than one card, most likely because it will raise your credit limit as the funds are dispatched among multiple different outlets.

Issuing Banks

An issuing bank is the bank that actually issues a consumer’s credit card. They are integral in the credit card process, because they are responsible for getting consumers to sign up for certain types of credit cards. If they have it their way, they would have everyone sign up for high reward cards. 

They know that they are not responsible for paying that percentage back or covering the reward amount, and that these are the cards that get the most amount of money spent on them. If you are interested in getting a high reward card, be careful to not spend more than you plan on, justifying that you’ll get a percentage of it back.

leading issuing banks and cards per bank

Which Bank Issues the Most Credit Cards?

Chase is the most popular of the issuing banks out there, with 93 million credit cards in circulation with them. Each credit card issuer offers different cards than other issuers. Because of this, you’ll find different rates with each issuing bank.

None of the other 4 credit card issuers in the top 5 are necessarily even close to the production that Chase can claim.

What are the Four Major Credit Card Companies?

The four major credit card companies are Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express. All of these companies have left their mark on consumers internationally, making up the majority of the 2.8 billion credit cards in the world.

number of credit cards in use by brand

The powerhouses of the credit card industry are definitely Visa and Mastercard. With over a billion credit cards in circulation from them alone, they make up a very high amount of the national total credit cards in circulation. 

market share by credit card brand

With those numbers, it’s a bit of a surprise that over half the market share belongs to Visa. They have by far the largest amount of users, meaning that they may have less cards in circulation, but they have the most users actually using their cards.

number of users per card brand

This shows that many Mastercard users own multiple cards across multiple credit card accounts, while Visa fewer users have multiple cards.

Average Number of Cards Per Individual By Generation

Baby boomers have the most amount of credit cards per person, with Generation Z having the fewest. As baby boomers in their 40’s and 50’s, the economic prime of life, it makes sense that they would have the most amount of credit cards because they can pay them off with more ease than individuals in another generation.

Gen Z, on the other hand, has the fewest credit cards per individual because they are the youngest generation. Somewhere around 18 years old right now, they have the lowest credit card need. In fact, many are not even old enough to get a credit card without their guardian’s signature.

Finally, the silent generation has, on average, a half less credit card than baby boomers. This shows that as people grow older, they have less of a use for credit cards as their expenses go down. Fewer expenses require fewer credit cards, thus giving them less average revolving credit card debt than other generations.

average credit cards by generation

Credit card statistics


downloads and resources

Data Resources

  • crnrstone.com
  • wallethub.com
  • paymentscardsandmobile.com
  • creditkarma.com
  • creditcardprocessing.com
  • cardrates.com
  • fool.com

Resource Downloads

Download web optimized versions of our data charts and infographics.

Pros and Cons of a Credit Card

Pros

Credit cards, when used responsibly, can be a great payment option. It’s fast, easy and convenient to make payments with credit cards and not have to worry about carrying cash. 

Not only that, but it helps build an excellent credit score. Making small purchases and paying them off in a timely way is a great strategy for building a strong credit score. 

A strong credit score is vital for receiving any financial aid, such as an auto loan, that you may need. Additionally, strong credit score, compared to poor or average credit scores, helps with getting better mortgage rates on houses from your real estate agency and even with your rates and quotes from life insurance companies and car insurers.

There are other ways to improve your credit score beyond just credit cards, though. Paying off student loans can progressively help you build credit score over time, but making a late payment on federal student loan debt can also drag your credit score down over a period of time. 

You might not get debt collection agencies chasing after you for a missed payment, but always treat your payments very seriously as they affect both your credit score and your interest rate. Make sure to consistently be credit monitoring as you try to improve your credit score.

Credit cards are also very secure today. With the invention of credit card chips, credit card fraud has decreased over time. The chip helps verify the purchase and makes it far more secure than the previously standard credit card swipe.

Finally, having a credit card makes tracking your spending much easier than the alternative of cash. Receiving your electronic statement monthly is a great way to check your spendings. Additionally, almost all issuing financial institutions have an alternate way of tracking your credit card purchases, as well as the purchase volume, most popularly done through a mobile app.

cons

When used irresponsibly, credit cards can be incredibly risky. When you purchase an item, you must be positive that you have the funds to pay that purchase off. A good rule of thumb is simply if you don’t have enough money to buy it, then don’t buy it. No good can come from overspending on your credit card.

Overspending on a credit card can leave you with many issues. Cards for bad credit score make an attempt to help you with your credit repair. However, if the debt is left untreated, it can rack up very quickly, and if you spend more than you bring in, you can find yourself deeply in debt. 

Most credit cards, though, have some sort of credit card limit that will keep you from exceeding a certain credit card balance to keep overspending to a minimum.

While obtaining balance transfer credit cards can more quickly and easily help you pay off the revolving debt, it is still not an ideal situation to be in. A balance transfer card might be in your best interest if you owe a substantial amount of credit card debt and want to pay it back at a lower credit card’s interest rate.

When paying credit card debt back, it is recommended that you pay more than the minimum payment each month, if at all possible. This will help you with saving money, as you have less monthly payments accumulating interest over time. 

Also be careful to not fall behind on paying back any credit card payments. Doing so could potentially put you at risk of credit card delinquency. Being labeled as delinquent has the power to plummet your credit score.

Don’t view your credit card as an infinite supply of money. Know how much money you have and what you can afford to spend. Credit cards can be a great and convenient option over cash. They can also be very dangerous if used incorrectly.

If your main concern about your potential credit card ownership is the possibility to overspend, consider a debit card instead. With debit cards, you can only spend the money that you have. Debit cards do not allow for overspending and could keep you held accountable for purchasing only with money that you already have.

Conclusion

Credit cards have seemingly grown year after year ever since the invention of the payment option, and it’s no wonder why. They are fast and convenient, and many cards offer money back or some rewards programs on each and every purchase made. They should be used carefully and in moderation, and are a great alternative to cash when done so.

Many business credit cards will have rewards, but usually not just cash back. A very common reward, for example, comes in the form of air miles. 

Credit cards are very useful payment tools that eliminate the inconvenience of having to carry cash and change with you. They carry many positives, like building credit, but can also carry many negatives. If you own a credit card, be careful how frequently you use it. Only spend money that you have, not money you think you’ll have in the future, and be sure to track all purchases that you make. 

With all the known negatives of credit cards out there and the constantly rising average credit card debt, it’s reasonable to be hesitant to acquire a credit card. However, credit cards can be a very strong payment method when used responsibly.

If credit cards are used responsibly, they are great options. They are convenient and fast, help build good credit score and are far easier to track purchases than the alternative of cash.