REPORT 2021 Credit Card Usage Statistics

Credit Card Usage and Ownership Statistics (2021 Report)

updated Jan 29, 2021  

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 and usage: quick facts

Credit card statistics on the average American: The average American has a credit card balance of $5,313 and a credit score of 710. [1]

What is the average credit card debt per person?$5,313
What is the average credit score?710
What is the average credit utilization rate?25.3%
What percentage of people have a credit card?More than 90%

How do people use credit cards?

Out of 176 million credit card users, most cardholders carry a balance month to month. The Q2 2020 report by the American Bankers Association reveals that 44.6% of credit card users are revolvers, meaning they carry a balance to the next month at least once every quarter. Another 31.6% of credit card users are transactors, which means they don’t carry a balance and have no financing charges. The remaining 23.8% of credit card users show no activity. [3]

Credit cards trail behind debit cash as the most popular payment option, according to the 2020 findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (24% of respondents preferred credit as a form of payment in 2019 versus 30% for debit and 26% for cash). However, the preference for debit cards and credit has been increasing steadily year-over-year. [2]

Credit card utilization rates

U.S. consumers, on average, use 25.3% of their credit card limits. People belonging to Generation X have the highest average revolving credit utilization rates at 31% (as of May 2020). [4]

Credit limits

What’s the average credit limit? Credit limits vary widely depending on a consumer’s creditworthiness. The average credit limit for a new account was $3,952 in the third quarter of 2020 (down from $5,284 in the third quarter of 2019), according to a TransUnion report. [5]

Credit card delinquency

In the first quarter of 2020, 5.31% of credit card account balances were at least 90 days late. This is a decrease from the first quarter of 2019, when 5.32% of credit card accounts had a delinquency greater than 90 days. [6]

Credit card ownership and debt statistics

A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve in 2019 revealed that 86% of respondents owned at least one credit card. [7]

Credit card ownership by age: People over the age of 60 are most likely to own a credit card (93%). The rate of credit card ownership decreases by age bracket: 86% for people ages 45 to 59, 80% for people ages 30 to 44, and 75% for people ages 18 to 29. [7]

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]

Mississippi residents also have the highest credit utilization rate at 31%, which is 6 percentage points higher than the national average. [4]

StateAverage Credit Score (VantageScore)Average Credit Utilization (May 2020)
District of Columbia71324%

Credit card application and rejection rates

Credit card application rates declined in 2020: According to a survey conducted by the New York Federal Reserve, 15.7% of survey participants reported submitting a credit card application in October 2020. This is a sharp decline from February 2020, when 26.3% of respondents reported submitting a best way to use credit card application. [8]

Respondents’ expectation of their credit card application being rejected also increased sharply during this period, from 12.9% in February 2020 to 35.1% in October 2020.[8]

Credit access also decreased: The per-applicant credit approval rate (for all types of credit) fell from 39.1% in February 2020 to 28.3% in October 2020. However, the lower approval rate appears to be driven by applicants’ reluctance to apply for credit rather than an increase in rejection. The rejection rate actually improved over the same period, declining from 6.5% in February 2020 to 6.2% in October 2020. [8]


[1] Experian 2020 Consumer Credit Review

[2] 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

[3] American Bankers Association: Q2 2020 Report

[4] Experian Report

[5] TransUnion Industry Insights Report

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

[7] U.S. Federal Reserve: Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking

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

[9] 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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