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Credit Card Data

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NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

NerdWallet’s credit card research team spends thousands of hours a year studying data from the financial services industry, government and other sources to spot trends, opportunities and dangers that consumers should be aware of. The links on this page point to some of our most-read research.

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

American Household Credit Card Debt Study

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

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.

  • 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 fall, NerdWallet surveys the credit card landscape to identify important trends for consumers.

  • 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.
  • 2011-2014 landscape study: Consumers are willing to pay higher fees for higher rewards. Lengthy 0% APR periods are a hit. Consumers pay more attention to fees than APRs.

Psychology of debt

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

  • 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

Credit card statistics