Advertiser Disclosure: ValuePenguin is an advertising-supported comparison service which receives compensation from some of the financial providers whose offers appear on our site. This compensation from our advertising partners may impact how and where products appear on our site (including for example, the order in which they appear). To provide more complete comparisons, the site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.
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.
- Quick Facts
- How Do People Use Credit Cards?
- Credit Card Ownership and Debt Statistics
- Credit Card Application and Rejection Rates
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. 
|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. 
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. 
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. 
Interestingly, credit cards are the preferred payment type for consumers with household incomes greater than $75,000. 
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%. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
|Number of Cards Owned by Consumers||Credit Card Ownership %|
|One to two cards||33%|
|Three to four cards||18%|
|Five to six cards||9%|
|Seven or more cards||7%|
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. 
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. 
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. 
Alaska residents have the highest average credit card balance at $8,515, which is $2,161 greater than the national average. 
|State||Average Credit Score (VantageScore)||Average Number of Credit Cards||Average Balance on Credit Cards|
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. 
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. 
The percentage of applicants who are rejected from credit cards has been between 13.5% and 22% over the past five years. 
 Argus Information & Advisory Service as Presented by the American Bankers Association
 Experian Report
 Gallup Poll
Note: Our report uses VantageScore as a proxy for a consumer's credit score.