Credit Card Data, Statistics and Research

Written by NerdWallet
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NerdWallet's Credit Cards team spends thousands of hours a year studying data from the financial services industry, government agencies and other sources to spot trends, opportunities and dangers that consumers should be aware of. This page gathers some of the most important — and most-asked-for — statistics about how people use credit cards. Below that, you'll find links to our most-read original research about credit cards.

For NerdWallet data analysis on student loans, banking, investing, mortgages and more — see this page.


How many people have credit cards?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's biennial report on the consumer credit card market, an estimated 190.6 million of the 253.8 million adults in the U.S. had a credit card at the end of 2021,

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 15). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
the most recent figure available from the agency. This report comes out every two years. Except where indicated otherwise, CFPB data on this page is all from the 2023 report.

Older Americans are more likely to carry credit cards. According to the CFPB, 88% of people age 65 and above have credit cards, a number that has stayed roughly steady since 2013, when the CFPB first started tracking it. Among people ages 25-64, the figure is 82%, up from 76% in 2013. The biggest increase in card usage has been among those under 25; in that group, 64% have credit cards, up from 56% in 2013.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 18). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

As you would expect, the higher someone's credit score, the more likely they are to carry a credit card. The CFPB divides consumers into six credit score tiers, ranging from "deep subprime" at the bottom to "superprime" at the top. Here's a look at how many people in each credit score tier had at least one credit card in 2022

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 16). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Credit tier

Score range

Cardholders (in millions)

Non-cardholders (in millions)


800 and up



Prime plus








Near prime








Deep subprime

Under 580



Thin or stale file (not enough data to score)




How many credit cards are in circulation?

The CFPB makes a distinction in its data between "general purpose" credit cards and "private label" cards. A general purpose card is one that you can use just about anywhere — one that works on the Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express network. A private label card is one you can only use at a specific brand or group on merchants. They're more or less synonymous with store and retail cards.

As of the fourth quarter of 2022, there were 548 million open accounts for general purpose credit cards in the U.S., CFPB data show. That continues a decade-long pattern of steady increases and represents a 41% rise from 389 million accounts in 2013.

Store cards have been trending in the opposite direction. There were 206 million retail cards open at the end of 2022, the lowest number in the past decade and down 18% from the peak of 251 million in 2017.

That's a combined total of 754 million credit cards in circulation.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 87). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
Divide that by the number of U.S. adults who carry a credit card, and the data suggest an average of about four credit cards per cardholding consumer. Keep in mind, though, that some cardholders carry a dozen or more. For each person with 10 cards, you could have two people with only one apiece to make an average of four. Spread across then entire U.S. adult population, the average is about three cards per person.

How much do people spend on credit cards?

Credit card holders charged $3.2 trillion to their cards in 2022, including a quarterly record of $846 billion in the last three months of that year.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 31). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
Annual spending has been steadily growing each year, except for the COVID pandemic year of 2020. Nearly all the growth in credit card spending over the past decade is attributable to general purpose cards. From 2015 to 2022, for example, spending on general purpose cards grew 101%, from $397 in the fourth quarter of 2015 to $796 in the same period in 2022. Spending on private label or store cards, by contrast, rose just 16%, from $43 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015 to $50 billion in 2022.

Holders of general purpose credit cards charged an average of $8,823 in purchases per account in 2022. In general, the higher an individual’s credit score, the more they spent on their cards, with one exception — the highest-score group doesn't spend as much on store cards as those with scores of 660-799.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 32). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Credit tier

Score range

Average spending per general purpose card account

Average spending per private label card account


800 and up



Prime plus








Near prime








Deep subprime

Under 580






What’s the average credit limit on credit cards?

There are two ways to measure credit limits — on a per-account basis and on a per-cardholder basis. In 2022, the average account credit limit was $8,260 on general purpose credit cards and $2,867 on store or retail credit cards.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 91). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Credit tier

Score range

Average credit limit per general purpose card account

Average credit limit per private label card account


800 and up



Prime plus








Near prime








Deep subprime

Under 580






On a per-cardholder basis, the average cardholder had a total credit limit of about $26,000 across all of their cards in 2022. The higher the credit score, the higher the average aggregate limit. Those with the highest scores had an average combined limit of more than $40,000.

The average cardholder had a total credit utilization of 20.6% in 2022, the CFPB says. Credit utilization is the percentage of your credit limit that you are currently using. So if you had a credit limit of $10,000 and your card balance was $2,060, you’d have a utilization of 20.6%. Consumers with the highest credit scores (800 and above) had the lowest utilization — close to 10% on average. Those with the lowest scores (under 580) had the highest — in the range of 90%.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 92). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

How much credit card debt do people have?

NerdWallet’s annual American Household Credit Card Debt Study found that in December 2023, consumer credit card balances totaled $1.27 trillion. That figure includes both “transacting” balances, which are charges that cardholders have put on their cards but that they intend to pay in full on their next statement, and “revolving” balances, which are debts carried over from month to month.

According to NerdWallet’s calculations, among households that had credit card debt in December 2023, the average amount was $21,367. That is a combined total across all of the card accounts in a household. On a per-account basis, the CFPB says the average balance on a credit card at the end of 2022 was $5,288.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 33). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
Taking into account the rough average of four accounts per cardholder, those two figures align closely.

How much of that credit card debt is revolving — that is, being carried from one month to the next — is difficult to pin down. Some of the heaviest users of credit cards are transactors who pay their bill in full every month, so their high balances will influence the average. No agency publishes data that specifically breaks down credit card balances into revolving and transacting.

However, a NerdWallet survey conducted by The Harris Poll in conjunction with the study found that 43% of American adults who use credit cards (and 38% of all American adults) said they have revolving debt. The CFPB, meanwhile, found that at the end of 2022, payments on 48% of general purpose credit card accounts were for less than the full balance, meaning some debt was being revolved.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 42). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

This survey discussed here was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet from Nov. 7-9, 2023, among 2,042 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/– 2.7 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, contact [email protected].

In 2022, credit card issuers “charged off” $37 billion in balances, meaning they determined that those balances weren’t going to be paid.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 149). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
(The issuer can still try to collect, however, including by selling the debt to a third party to collect.) That was up about 15.6% from the previous year’s $32 billion but still down from the pre-pandemic peak of $42 billion in 2019.

How much do people pay on credit cards?

Cardholders paid $3.2 trillion toward credit card debt in 2002, the CFPB reports. That’s roughly equal to the amount spent on credit cards that year. Repayment amounts include interest, however, so cardholders as a whole were not “breaking even.” The bureau says repayments accounted for 40% of total balances on general purpose credit cards.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 36). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

About 44% of credit card payments were for the full balance in 2022. Paying your balance in full is the recommended course of action. First of all, it means you are charging only what you can afford to pay off. Second, when you pay in full each month, you do not get charged interest on purchases. Meanwhile, 33% of payments were for less than 10% of the balance. In recent years, the trend has been toward more people paying their balance in full. The share of payments that cover the full balance has risen 8 percentage points since 2015. The percentage that cover less than 10% of the balance has declined an equal amount.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 39). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

What’s the average minimum payment on a credit card?

The CFPB says the average minimum payment on general purpose credit cards was $102 in 2022. For private label cards — aka store credit cards — it was $69.

About 13% of payments on general purpose credit cards were for only the minimum amount due. Consumers with lower credit scores were more likely to pay only the minimum.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 40). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Credit tier

Score range

Percent of general purpose accounts paying just the minimum

Percent of private label accounts paying just the minimum


800 and up



Prime plus








Near prime








Deep subprime

Under 580






What's the average credit card interest rate?

The Federal Reserve tracks credit card interest rates two ways — the average rate on all accounts, and the average rate on accounts that incur interest. As discussed above, more than 40% of cardholders typically pay their balances in full, so those accounts don't incur interest.

As of February 2024, the average rate charged on credit card accounts that incurred interest was 22.63%, according to the Fed. For all accounts, it was 21.59%.

The numbers were at or near their highest levels in 30 years.

The CFPB notes that interest rates on store cards are higher than those on general purpose cards. In late 2022, when the average APR on general purpose cards was about 22.7%, the average rate on private label cards was a full 5 points higher.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 52). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

The total amount paid in credit card interest topped $100 billion in 2022. Finance charges had been increasing steadily year-over-year before a two-year dip during the COVID pandemic, but interest has essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels. The $30.5 billion interest paid in the fourth quarter of 2022 was an all-time high in absolute dollar terms and just a hair short of the record when adjusting for inflation.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 52). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

How much do people pay in credit card fees?

Cardholders paid a record $25.4 billion in fees in 2022, according to the CFPB. The bulk of that was late fees, which accounted for more than $14 billion. Annual fees accounted for $6.4 billion. Other fees — such as balance transfer fees and cash advance fees — made up the rest.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 62). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Credit card holders paid a record $14.5 billion in late fees in 2022, including an all-time quarterly high of $4 billion in the last three months of the year, according to CFPB data. In general, late fees accrue at a rate of about one fee per account per year. That’s just an average, though — a cardholder who incurs one late fee is likely to incur others. According to the CFPB, cardholders with the lowest credit scores incur an average of 3.7 late fees per year on general purpose cards, compared with 0.2 fees per year for those with the highest scores.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 65). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Late fee legislation and litigation

In March 2024, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule that would cap credit card late fees at $8. At the time, the maximum late fee allowed by law was $30 for the first late payment and $41 for each additional late payment within six months. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit to try to block the rule from taking effect.

The average annual fee on a consumer credit card was $105 in 2022, the CFPB says.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 63). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
The bureau notes that there has been a significant shift in who pays annual fees. These fees used to be concentrated primarily on cards for people with the lowest credit scores, for whom the annual fee was intended to offset the risk of non-payment. Now, the bulk of annual fees are paid by people with higher credit scores, with fees going toward the cost of providing rewards and perks. Between 15% and 20% of all general purpose credit card accounts have an annual fee.

How much do credit card holders earn in rewards?

Holders of general purpose credit cards earned $41.1 billion in rewards in 2022, the CFPB reports.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 70). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
Of that total, $15.2 billion was earned as cash back, $5.2 billion as airline miles and the rest as “points and other,” according to the bureau’s analysis. The more than $20 billion in that last category probably shakes out as a lot of additional cash back and travel. Generic credit card points can typically be redeemed for cash back, used to book travel, transferred to airline and hotel partners, or converted to gift cards, among other things. Note that these totals do not include rewards on store cards, which typically redeem as free merchandise.

Meanwhile, cardholders redeemed $34.5 billion worth of rewards on general purpose cards in 2022.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 102). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Cardholders earned an average of 1.6 cents in rewards per dollar spent in 2022, the CFPB found.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 71). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
This does not include the value of what the bureau calls “non-pecuniary” rewards — perks like airport lounge access, free checked bags, insurance coverage and so on. As a matter of fact, cardholders with the highest credit scores actually earned rewards at a lower rate than others. The bureau speculates that this could be attributable to such consumers being more likely to opt for cards with non-cash perks. At the end of 2022, the average rewards credit card account had an average of $156 in unspent rewards.

Rewards credit cards are increasingly moving to a model in which rewards never expire as long as the account remains in good standing. As a result, the amount of rewards that cardholders lose to forfeiture or expiration has been declining for years. Even so, each quarter, about 4% of credit card accounts forfeit at least some rewards, according to the CFPB.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 102). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
That translates to about $500 million in lost rewards a year.

The average credit card sign-up bonus was worth $326 in 2022.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 105). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
That was up 18% from $276 in 2019, reflecting increased competition for accounts.

How many people apply for credit cards? How many get approved?

In 2022, U.S. consumers submitted about 164 million applications for credit cards

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 77). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
— 87 million for general-purpose cards and 77 million for store cards.

About 44% of applications for general purpose cards were approved in 2022, the highest rate since 2016. Approvals dipped to 36% in 2020 when disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led card issuers to tighten their requirements. About 50% of store card applications were approved in 2022, the highest percentage since 2016.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 81). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.

Unsurprisingly, the higher an applicant's credit score, the more likely they were to get approved for a card — with one interesting exception: Those with the lowest scores (below 580) were slightly more likely to get approved for general purpose cards than those with scores of 580-619. Possible explanation: Consumers with the lowest scores are the most likely to apply for credit cards that allow you to prequalify before applying to see your approval odds, cards that don't require a credit check at all, or that require a cash deposit (and are thus easier to qualify for).

Here's a look at credit card application and approval rates in 2022:

General-purpose cards

Store cards

Credit tier (score range)


Approval rate


Approval rate

Superprime (800 and up)

7 million


9 million


Prime plus (720-799)

15 million


12 million


Prime (660-719)

15 million


12 million


Near prime (620-659)

10 million


9 million


Subprime (580-619)

21 million


20 million


Deep subprime (under 580)

19 million


15 million



87 million


77 million


In general, people with lower credit scores apply for more cards and have significantly lower approval rates. These factors are interrelated, as individuals in the below-prime score tiers who are looking for a credit card will often apply for multiple cards in succession as applications are rejected.

How many credit card companies are there?

About 4,000 financial institutions issue credit cards, according to the CFPB.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Credit Card Market 2023 (p. 19). Accessed Mar 29, 2024.
However, the 10 largest issuers accounted for more than 82.9% of market share in 2022. That’s actually down from 87% in 2016. The 30 largest issuers account for 94.5% of the market.

What are the largest credit card companies?

Defining the largest credit card companies starts with defining what you mean by "credit card company." Visa, Mastercard, Citi, Capital One and American Express, for example, could all be defined as "credit card companies," but the roles they play in the industry are different:

  • Credit card issuers are the financial institutions where card accounts "live." It's the issuer that takes your application and approves (or declines) you. When you put a purchase on your card, you're borrowing money from the issuer, and when you pay your bill, it's the issuer who gets your money. Issuers range from giants like Chase and Citi to smaller institutions like community banks and credit unions.

  • Payment networks are companies that process credit card transactions. The four primary networks in the U.S. are Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

Online lists of the biggest credit card companies sometimes conflate issuers and networks. Visa and Mastercard do not issue credit cards; they merely handle transactions. American Express and Discover, however, are both issuers and networks.

The most common way to measure size within the credit cards industry is by "purchase volume" — the amount of money charged to credit cards. Going by that metric, the largest credit card issuer in the country is JP Morgan Chase. According to the Nilson Report, a payments industry publication, Chase cardholders charged $602 billion in the first six months of 2023. These were the largest issuers, ranked by purchase volume during that period:

Nilson Report, Issue 1249, September 2023. .

  1. JP Morgan Chase — $602.11 billion.

  2. American Express — $547.56 billion.

  3. Citi — $287.18 billion

  4. Capital One — $272.62 billion.

  5. Bank of America® — $244.15 billion.

  6. Discover — $105.82 billion.

  7. U.S. Bank — $93.83 billion.

  8. Wells Fargo — $90.56 billion.

  9. Barclays — $55.16 billion.

  10. Synchrony — $36.40 billion.

  11. USAA — $28.07 billion.

  12. PNC — $27.18 billion.

  13. Corpay/Comdata — $25.50 billion.

  14. Navy Federal Credit Union — $23.01 billion.

  15. Wex — $21.87 billion.

Most of the names on this list are probably familiar. Not-so-familiar names include Synchrony, which primarily issues store credit cards; Corpay (formerly Comdata), a provider of corporate cards; and Wex, which issues specialty cards such as gas cards for fleet businesses and benefits cards for employers.

Which credit card company has the best customer service?

Different cardholders can have markedly different opinions about the customer service experience with their card issuer. One person could get the runaround from customer service and give a bank an "F" grade as a result, while another has nothing but positive experiences and gives the same institution an "A+." Even so, some trends emerge in customer satisfaction surveys.

J.D. Power conducts an annual study of customer satisfaction among major credit card issuers. J.D. Power's 2023 study ranked American Express as the best credit card issuer for customer service.

Results of the survey:



American Express




Navy Federal


Bank of America®




Capital One


Issuer average






Wells Fargo


Fifth Third




U.S. Bank






TD Bank


Merrick Bank




Premier Bankcard


Credit One


* J.D. Power's "Satisfaction Index" uses a scale of 0 to 1,000. ** J.D. Power says USAA, Navy Federal and Barclays were not "rank eligible" because they did not meet "study eligibility criteria." Their scores, therefore, may not be directly comparable to those of other issuers.

J.D. Power says: "The U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study ... measures customer satisfaction with credit card issuers by examining seven factors (in alphabetical order): account management; benefits; customer service; new account; rewards earning; rewards redeeming; and terms. The study includes responses from 31,418 credit card customers and was fielded from August 2022 through June 2023." Also: "Rankings are based on numerical scores, and not necessarily on statistical significance."


Below are links to NerdWallet's original research on credit cards. Our studies look at economic data from financial institutions, government agencies and other sources, as well as the results of surveys commissioned specially for NerdWallet.

American Household Credit Card Debt Study

Every winter, NerdWallet analyzes data from multiple sources, including the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Census Bureau, to determine how much debt Americans are carrying, why they have it and how this debt will grow.

  • 2023 study: Rising interest rates make carrying debt more expensive and paying it off more expensive, and that has many Americans stressed.

  • 2022 study: Credit card debt surges anew as Americans struggle with inflation and look to the future with increased anxiety.

  • 2021 study: Financial recovery will be slow for many, as the cost of living keeps rising while average household income has fallen.

  • 2020 study: "Average" debt numbers mask wide disparities as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages some families' finances far more than others.

  • 2019 study: Income growth catches up to the cost of living — except for medical costs, which is one reason parenthood is such a big driver of debt.

  • 2018 study: Student loan forbearance adds to debt loads. Forbearance allows borrowers to pause repayments, but interest continues to pile up.

  • 2017 study: Tens of millions of Americans put medical debt on credit cards as the cost of living continues to grow faster than household income.

  • 2016 study: Household debt returns to levels not seen since before the Great Recession — but that doesn't mean another downturn is on the way.

  • 2015 study: Debt isn't solely (or even mostly) caused by irresponsible spending. It's the result of incomes not keeping up with inflation.

Annual Travel Credit Card Study

Every spring, NerdWallet examines travel trends, frequent-flyer programs, offers from card issuers and other data points to help you get maximum value from travel credit cards.

  • 2023 study: Travel rewards credit cards are increasingly popular among younger consumers — and many cardholders are letting points and miles pile up.

  • 2022 study: Looking to put the pandemic behind them, most Americans are planning to travel. But millions of others are hanging back.

  • 2021 study: Holders of travel credit cards are sitting on a mountain of points and miles earned during the pandemic.

  • 2020: With COVID-19 bringing travel to a standstill and radically reshaping the travel credit cards market, NerdWallet refocused our study on the pandemic's effect on Americans' finances.

  • 2019 study: Rewards earned on travel credit cards are valuable, but many people grossly overestimate that value.

  • 2018 study: Americans who don't use travel credit cards miss out on hundreds of dollars' worth of free travel every year.

  • 2017 study: When should you use cash to book a trip, and when are you better off using airline points?

  • 2016 study: Americans miss out on big bonuses by applying for travel cards at the wrong time.

Annual Consumer Credit Card Report

Every summer or fall, NerdWallet surveys the credit card landscape to identify important trends for consumers.

  • 2023 study: Credit card debt is up, higher interest rates are making that debt more expensive — and a lot of people don't want to talk about their debt.

  • 2022 study: As inflation drives up the cost of living, consumers lean on credit cards to cope. But gaps in knowledge about how credit cards work can lead to trouble.

  • 2021 study: Nearly 1 in 5 cardholders had credit limits cut during the COVID-19 pandemic, causing distress for some and leading many to rethink how they look at their cards.

  • 2020 study: As the COVID-19 pandemic turned finances upside down, Americans reached out to their credit card issuers for assistance — and found that hardship help comes at a cost.

  • 2019 study: Nearly half of Americans with credit cards carry debt on them from month to month. With average interest rates rising 35% in five years, that debt has gotten a lot more expensive.

  • 2018 study: Americans are delinquent on billions in credit card debt. The most common reason for missing payments isn't overspending — it's simple forgetfulness.

  • 2017 study: Unsecured cards marketed to those with poor credit come with high fees and low limits that leave cardholders perpetually maxed out.

  • 2016 study: People with bad credit are a huge market, and predatory issuers are taking advantage. Subprime credit card debt is more expensive.

  • 2015 study: EMV shift could paradoxically lead to more fraud. Annual fees are costing some rewards card holders dearly. Millennials should exercise caution when applying for cards.

Psychology of debt

NerdWallet digs into the psychological side of credit card debt: the relationship between emotion and debt, and how debt makes us feel.

  • 2020 study: Nearly one-quarter of Americans have no credit history or have just started trying to build one. Plus, opinions are split on credit cards — are they "helpful"? "Dangerous"? "Complicated"? "Evil"? All of the above?

  • 2018 study: Credit card debt and regret go hand in hand. Still, more than 7 in 10 say they would go into credit card debt for certain expenses.

  • 2017 study:  Half of Americans emotionally overspend, while 87% would be embarrassed to admit having credit card debt.

  • 2016 study: More than two-thirds of Americans say there's more stigma in credit card debt than in other kinds of debt.

Other credit card studies and surveys

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