Number of Credit Cards and Credit Card Holders

Posted by: Bianca Peter

wh-statistic-number-of-credit-cards-and-credit-card-holdersThe number of credit cards in circulation and the number of people using them are crucial metrics when it comes to understanding both the payments landscape and consumer preferences. Not only do these figures speak to the overall availability of credit, but they also reveal market share by card network and indicate whether most consumers are using a single credit card for all expenses or a few cards targeted to different types of transactions. Furthermore, these statistics speak to the overall popularity of credit as a spending vehicle.

Number of Credit Cards

The number of credit cards from the four primary credit card networks (VISA, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) is 679 million in 2018. There were a total of 1.06 billion credit cards in 2017 and the projection for 2022 is close to 1.2 billion.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Nilson Report) Number of Cardholders

The number of cardholders in 2017 was 180 million, a growth of about 11% compared to 5 years ago, in 2012. By 2022, this number is predicted to grow nearly 6%, to 191 million.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Nilson Report) Number of Credit Card Accounts 

The number of credit card accounts reached the highest level in twenty years. It started growing year after year since 2012, rising in 2019 above their pre-crisis levels.

(Source: FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax)
YearNumber of Credit Card Accounts Q1Number of Credit Card Accounts Q2Number of Credit Card Accounts Q3Number of Credit Card Accounts Q4
1999365.16364.67373.45371.65
2000384.68394.51386.70414.02
2001419.78447.93437.47467.48
2002466.88477.83474.13478.80
2003469.81468.94457.64452.71
2004449.62458.26447.07448.43
2005451.95450.14452.34455.91
2006458.41460.35454.64451.28
2007444.88474.74478.86481.44
2008474.57496.12492.19472.17
2009434.25412.38401.77394.27
2010385.86380.54377.90380.07
2011379.34389.17383.27386.20
2012386.25383.36382.12383.40
2013383.08388.87391.24399.01
2014401.54405.89410.54412.99
2015415.77421.82426.63424.35
2016435.61440.98445.04453.07
2017454.58459.31465.97468.76
2018466.88469.64474.24479.23
2019482.7486.5
(Source: FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax) Number of New Credit Card Inquires

By early 2019, inquires for new credit cards had dropped to around 22% of their count in 2015. Card solicitations have turned down over the course of 2016, reaching the lowest levels so far. We encounter similar patterns as in 2009, when offers for new credit cards dropped to one quarter of their count in 2006.

(Source: FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax) Number of Credit Cards per Cardholder

8 in 10 U.S. adults (81%) report that they have at least one credit card, and 53% carried a balance in 2018.

According to Federal Reserve survey, credit cards were the most common application types. Although 79% of the credit card applicants were very confident in their chances of approval, 31% reported at least one credit card denial or lower credit offer.

Consumer credit equaled 25.92% of household debt at the end of 2018, up from 25.72 % the prior year. Consumer credit per household was $25,104. Credit card debt was 6.42% of total debt in 2018, up from 6.34% the prior year.

20182017Change 2018 vs. 2017
Average Number of Credit Cards3.043.06-0.65%
Average Credit Card Balances$6,506$6,3542.39%
Average Credit Card Balance per Capita$3,220$3,1003.87%
Average Number of Retail Credit Cards2.592.484.44%
Average Retail Credit Card Balances$1,901$1,8413.26%
Average Nonmortgage Debt$25,104$24,7061.61%
Average Mortgage Debt$208,180$201,8113.16%
(Source: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Federal Reserve and Experian, 2019)

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