Credit Card Usage and Ownership Statistics (2018 Report)

The credit card industry has a huge effect on everyday life in the U.S. The average American owns multiple credit cards with balances reaching thousands of dollars. Credit card ownership and usage are, at least partly, driven by a few key credit card industry trends, like easy access to credit. Below, we examine credit card statistics and trends for individuals and the industry alike.

Card Ownership & Usage: Quick Facts

Credit card statistics on the average American: The average American has 3.1 credit cards with an overall outstanding balance of $6,354 and a credit score of 675. [1]

How many credit cards does the average person have?3.1
What is the average credit card debt per person?$6,354
What is the average credit score?675
What is the average credit utilization rate?30%
How many credit cards are there in the U.S.?1.5 billion
How much credit card debt is there in the U.S.?$815 billion
What percentage of people have a credit card?67%

How Do People Use Credit Cards?

Credit cards continue to be heavily favored by consumers who make online purchases. In fact, 48% and 47% of survey respondents indicated they prefer to use credit cards, over debit cards and PayPal, for online shopping and online travel purchases, respectively. [2]

Where Are Credit Cards Favored by Consumers?

Out of 176 million credit card users, most cardholders carry a balance month to month. An April 2018 report by the American Bankers Association reveals that 44% of credit card users are revolvers, meaning they carry a balance to the next month at least once every quarter. Another 29.5% of credit card users are transactors, which means they don't carry a balance and have no financing charges. The remaining 26.5% of credit card users show no activity. [3]

When given a choice, 44% of survey participants indicated they would prefer to make payments with a debit card. Credit cards remain more popular than cash, as 33% of survey respondents indicated credit cards as their preferred payment type. [2]

Interestingly, credit cards are the preferred payment type for consumers with household incomes greater than $75,000. [2]

Preferred Payment Type by Year

Credit Card Utilization Rates

U.S. consumers, on average, use 30% of their credit card limits. People belonging to Generation Z and Generation X have the highest average revolving credit utilization rates at 37%. [4]

Average Credit Utilization by Age

Credit Limits

What's the average credit limit? Credit limits vary widely depending on a consumer's creditworthiness. The average credit limit for super prime customers, meaning people with great credit, was $33,371 in the first quarter of 2017, according to a TransUnion report. [5]

Credit Card Delinquency

In the first quarter of 2018, 8.01% of credit card account balances were at least 90 days late. Credit card delinquencies haven't been as high since 2015. [6]

Credit Card Delinquency by Year

Credit Card Ownership and Debt Statistics

A poll conducted by Gallup in 2014 revealed that 67% of respondents owned at least one credit card. Furthermore, 16% of those respondents owned five or more credit cards. [7]

Number of Cards Owned by ConsumersCredit Card Ownership %
No cards29%
One to two cards33%
Three to four cards18%
Five to six cards9%
Seven or more cards7%

Credit card ownership by age: Baby boomers have the highest average number of credit cards at 3.5, but millennials have the highest average balances on their credit cards at $7,750. [1]

Average Number of Credit Cards by Age

Of all millennials, (people ages 25 to 34 years), 83% use credit cards. Furthermore, 37% of millennial survey respondents claimed they were "very likely" to apply for a new credit card sometime in the next six months. [8]

Credit Card Statistics by State

Residents of Minnesota have the highest average credit score in the nation at 709, while residents of Mississippi have the lowest at 647. [1]

Alaska residents have the highest average credit card balance at $8,515, which is $2,161 greater than the national average. [1]

StateAverage Credit Score (VantageScore)Average Number of Credit CardsAverage Balance on Credit Cards
North Carolina6662.95$6,117
North Dakota6972.90$5,511
New Hampshire7013.10$6,490
New Jersey6863.49$7,151
New Mexico6592.79$6,317
New York6883.34$6,671
Rhode Island6873.26$6,375
South Carolina6572.90$6,157
South Dakota7002.80$5,692
West Virginia6582.76$5,547

Credit Card Application and Rejection Rates

Credit application rates remain steady: According to a survey conducted by the New York Federal Reserve, 42% of survey participants reported submitting some type of credit application over the past 12 months. This figure is equal to the average rate over the past three years. However, the percentage of survey respondents applying for credit cards specifically fell slightly from 29.5% in June 2017 to 28.2% in October of the same year. [9]

Credit access has improved: The per-applicant credit rejection rate fell from 24.8% to 19.1%, and the per-application rejection rate fell from 37.7% to 30.7% in June 2017. In terms of credit cards, the rejection rate stands at 14.4%. The credit card rejection rate hasn't been this low since October 2015. [9]

The percentage of applicants who are rejected from credit cards has been between 13.5% and 22% over the past five years. [9]

What Percentage of Credit Applicants Are Rejected?


[1] Experian State of Credit Report

[2] TSYS U.S. Consumer Payment Study

[3] Argus Information & Advisory Service as Presented by the American Bankers Association

[4] Experian Report

[5] TransUnion Industry Insights Report

[6] Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Household Debt and Credit Report

[7] Gallup Poll

[8] FICO Survey: Millennials Still Want Credit Cards

[9] Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Survey of Consumer Expectations

[10] U.S. Census: Banking, Finance and Insurance

Note: Our report uses VantageScore as a proxy for a consumer's credit score.

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