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The Purchases Each State Puts on Credit Cards [2022 Survey]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

289 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

32 Published Articles 3109 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

With credit card companies raking in a whopping $12 billion in late fees in 2020 alone,¹ we started wondering: what types of purchases are people putting on their credit cards?

The allure of a credit card can be difficult to resist, especially when there are new products we want, as well as essentials we need. Many people get their first credit card with the assumption that they will use it for gas or that weekly trip to the grocery store, only to discover that there are so many other purchases they can make. Cruises, furniture, diamond necklaces — you name it!

With so many possibilities, we wanted a rundown of each state’s credit card expenses to get a behind-the-scenes look at what people are really swiping for.  

The most popular credit card purchases in each state
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

With current travel matching pre-pandemic levels, Americans are reaching for their credit card to treat themselves to a relaxing trip. Vacations were the top credit card expense in 17 states, including Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Oregon.

Computers were the second most popular item on Americans’ credit card statements, dominating in 8 states, including North Carolina, California, and Delaware. Perhaps the rise in remote work could provide one explanation for this purchase. 

Credit cards were used to purchase furniture in 6 states across the country, including New York, Washington, and Oklahoma. When it comes to swiping credit cards to pay off furniture bills, some credit card options are better than others, which is why we have a list of the best credit cards for buying furniture

The Most Unique Credit Card Purchases in Every State

The most unique credit card purchases
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Not everyone is using their credit card for vacations, televisions, or computers. Some are using their purchasing power for more unique items!

Those in Texas are putting gold necklaces, diamond rings, and other miscellaneous jewelry on their credit cards. The pet parents in Colorado are adding vet bills to their credit card statements, while the homeowners in Arkansas are racking up points when they replace their appliances.  

Credit Card Regrets

Various credit card regrets
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Life can be full of regrets and credit card expenses can be one of them. The long-lasting effects on your credit score and wallet may cause issues when applying for a car loan or other types of loans that you need more than whatever purchases you made on your credit card. Participants surveyed revealed that they regretted opening a credit card with high-interest rates, which is why we want you to be in the know about the average credit card interest rate

Social media is flooded with memes of financial guru Dave Ramsey watching in disdain when someone makes an unnecessary purchase instead of paying off their debt, but perhaps there is some truth to this joke beneath the surface. Impulse purchases are a real thing and can lead you to buy something you don’t need, but with the dopamine released every time you receive a package from Amazon at your door, who can blame you?

Other participants responded that debt was a big regret. Perhaps you’ve asked, “How much credit card debt is too much?” but any amount that you cannot keep up with will eventually become a weight on your shoulders.   

Reflections on Credit Card Usage

Donut chart of reflections on credit card usage
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Whether it’s an iced coffee or new shoes, credit card debt can add up fast. According to participants, 36% of respondents have reported purchasing something on their credit card they couldn’t afford but didn’t want to wait for

It’s easy to allow the thing you want most to take precedent while self-control flies out the window. The joy of getting that new phone or pair of earrings can fade quickly, as 35% of everyone surveyed has said they’ve regretted a credit card purchase immediately

With so many different businesses offering customer rewards when you open up a credit card with them, it’s no wonder that 1 in 5 (20%) respondents have a total of 3 credit cards and 1 in 20 (5%) have 10 different credit cards. While there are plenty of good reasons to have multiple credit cards, make sure you can simply master 1 credit card at a time before moving on to your second. 

If you’re in one of the states with the most debt, chances are you could be a contributing factor. Credit card debt can feel shameful, which is why it’s no surprise that almost a quarter of all respondents (24%) would rather go to the dentist than share their credit history with their partner

Methodology

To find out each state’s credit card expenses, we surveyed 3,500 participants total (2,500 people for the state-by-state portion, and 1,000 for a nationwide survey) for 14 days in April 2022. We asked questions such as, “How many credit cards do you have?” and, “What’s the most money you have owed on a single credit card at one time?” 

Final Thoughts

Our findings revealed that most states were focused on swiping for vacations and products like computers and furniture. If you happen to live in Colorado, maybe you’re among the many who use their credit card for emergencies like vet bills.

We know credit card regret is real, but when companies offer great benefits and cool rewards, we might be able to get on board. Do your best to avoid late fees and manage your credit card payments wisely to avoid the dreaded credit card regret. And remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Happy swiping! 


Q&A With an Upgraded Points Financial Expert

We wanted to ask a few questions to Stephen Au, our Senior Content Contributor, who is the founder and CEO of AuPACS, a points and travel consultancy that helps wealthy consumers and business owners manage their credit card rewards and luxury travel using points. He’s visited 24 countries, accumulated millions of credit card points, and has booked over $4 million in points travel for his clients. He’s also an expert in full-service travel management, including planning safaris, cruises, private jets, yachts, and more.

It’s hard to know what are the best purchases to put on a credit card or the best plan to pay off monthly installments. For all these answers and more, check out Stephen’s responses to a few of our biggest credit card conundrums below.

What are the top 3 purchases you recommend putting on a credit card?

All travel purchases (including airfare and hotels), dining, and groceries. Dining and groceries are everyday expenses that make it easy to rack up tons of rewards if you have the right card. For travel purchases, many credit cards have travel insurance that is even more important in today’s day and age to have in the event that something goes astray with your trip.

Are there any purchases you should avoid putting on a credit card?

Anything that has high additional fees, like cash advances, are types of transactions we would recommend against. But everything else should go on that credit card, especially if you want to protect yourself with purchase protection or extended warranty coverage.

How do you recommend making payments on your credit card?

We always recommend setting up autopay on your credit cards and just forgetting about it. It’s automated and will help you maintain perfect payment history for your credit score.

What type of purchases do you put on your credit card the most?

Dining, groceries, and travel purchases.

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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