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Credit Card Usage

Back in the 1950s, credit cards were pretty much limited to Diners Club or store cards. Diners Club—the biggest and only company that let you charge at lots of different places—had only a few hundred people carrying its cards. Credit was for the fanciest of suit people.


Oh, those brains? Just put 'em on my card.

Fast forward to 2014, when there were more than 199.8 million cardholders in America alone. Sadly, zombies still face a lot of discrimination in getting credit cards, but as long as you have a heartbeat and some form of employment, you're probably going to be able to get plastic. In fact, you'll probably be able to get a few different cards: the average credit card user has 3 to 4 credit cards, and about 7% of credit cardholders have more than seven pieces of plastic sitting in their wallets.

What's up with all those cards? Here are a few fun facts:

  • A 2014 Gallup survey found that credit card ownership in this country is heading down: in 2014, 29% of Americans had no credit cards, compared to only 22% who were cardless in 2008.
  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling reports that our credit risk as a nation may be in trouble: in 2014, 7% of Americans were rejected when applying for a new credit card, compared to just 4% turned down in 2011.
  • Your age can impact your credit card use, says The Huffington Post.
  • Younger people may be turning away from credit because the rules are tougher. Thanks to the Credit Card Act of 2009, if you're under the age of 21, you need a parent to co-sign on a new credit card. Don't have a mommy and daddy willing to sign on the dotted line? Bummer. You can't get a card without a co-signer at that age unless you can prove you can pay the bills.
  • General purpose credit cards and rewards credit cards are the most common types of plastic in American wallets.
  • About 32% of students from low-income backgrounds had credit cards in 2013, compared to 34% of students from high-income backgrounds and 28% from students who came from middle-class families (source).
  • College students in the Northeast have the lowest rates of credit card use, with only about 26% of students from that area having credit cards. Students in the West have the highest rates of credit card ownership, with about 37% of them carrying plastic (source).
  • In 2014, the average U.S. household with credit card debt owed about $15,611 to credit card companies. All together, we owed $882.6 billion in credit cards. That's a lot of shopping sprees. (Source)

How do you stack up when it comes to credit card debt and use? Are you an average user or are you doing more than your fair share to contribute to that $800+ billion owed across the country?

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