After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Credit cards are a valuable tool for many cardholders. Some people use cards as a convenient way to pay for expenses while earning rewards — and pay balances in full each month. Others pay steep interest fees to defer expenses until a later date.
Are you curious about who owns credit cards? Find out how many cards people own on average and learn whether ownership is related to factors like income, education level, or gender. Does how many cards you own relate to what state you live in or how old you are? And most importantly, how do you compare? Get the facts here.
New Jersey had the most credit cards open per person: 4.54 accounts on average. Alaska consumers had the least number of credit cards — on average, only 3.06 credit card accounts open per person.²
This doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the amount of debt each state holds. For example, Alaska is also home to cardholders with the most debt. The District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland round out the other top locations for credit card users with the most debt on average. Experian data shows some of the lowest average credit card debt balances are in the Midwest.⁹
When you break credit card ownership down by generation, you’ll see that older age groups typically carry the most credit cards. For example, on average, people between the ages of 40 and 74 had 4+ credit cards open.
On the flip side, younger generations are the fastest-growing group, according to Experian data. Generation Z increased their open credit card accounts by more than 9% in 2020 from 2019. That’s notable, considering Generation Z ranges from ages 18 to 23, an age when card approvals aren’t typically plentiful.
More than 97 million women (78% of women) and 95 million men (81% of men) in the U.S. have at least 1 credit card.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a federal law that prohibits credit discrimination on a number of factors — including gender. Still, women are rejected from credit card applications at a higher rate than men (or receive less favorable terms or interest rates), which might account for the lesser percentage of ownership.
Confidence also appears to play a role in those who apply: 61% of men reported feeling “very confident of approval,” while only 56% of women reported feeling the same.⁶
Superprime (credit scores 759+) and prime (credit scores between 680 and 759) borrowers make up most open credit card accounts, with over 72% of all open accounts. There is a continued shift back towards subprime accounts, especially since the drop in 2020.
Total credit card accounts increased to 441 million accounts in 2022. This is an increase from 411 million accounts from the same period in 2021. In addition, nearly half of the accounts are superprime.⁷
Income levels have a significant impact on card ownership. Among households with an annual income of over $100,000, 98% have a credit card. Those making between $50,000 and $100,000 annually still have a high percentage of credit card ownership at 94%. Once the household income drops below $25,000, however, credit card ownership drops steeply to 57%.¹
Depending on the number of members in the household, well over half of credit card owners might fall within the Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty guidelines. For example, for a family of 4 in 2023, the poverty level is $30,000.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a federal law that prohibits credit discrimination, including race. Still, credit card ownership isn’t equal across racial and ethnic lines.
More than 92% of Asian and 87% of white adults had a credit card in 2023. Meanwhile, only 73% of Hispanic and 71% of Black adults owned a credit card.
Credit card use also varied by race and ethnicity. For example, while Asian adults had the largest percentage of ownership, less than 3 in 10 carried a balance on their card at least once during 2023. Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to carry balances on their credit cards than other racial or ethnic groups, at 78% and 62%, respectively.¹
Disability status can also impact levels of card ownership. For example, among those who have a disability, 69% own a credit card. This is compared to 82% card ownership for those without a disability.¹
This statistic shows that there are notable gaps in access to financial services, especially when you factor in that those with a disability are also less likely to have a bank account as compared to those without a disability. 10% of those with a disability do not have a bank account, compared to 5% for those without a disability.¹
Overall, credit cards are tools that consumers can use to their benefit. Differences in credit card ownership vary by age, income, gender, race, and even location. If you’re considering opening a new credit card, being well-informed about these differences is important.
Fair access across protected groups as well as knowledge about what factors (such as a good credit score) can put you at an advantage are key facts when it comes to credit card ownership.
Yes, there are 3 ways to share credit card ownership: authorized users, joint account holders, and co-signers. These factor into the statistics we’ve included above.
There are 441 million open credit card accounts in the U.S.! This has steadily increased since the pandemic, with the average American having 3.84 credit cards.
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