Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept and close



Covered in this report

This report examines consumer attitudes and behaviors concerning credit card rewards, and includes information about:

  • How many cards consumers use
  • What might motivate consumers to apply for a card
  • How consumers accrue and redeem credit card rewards

"The credit card industry is a well-established one, and a handful of top players dominate the industry – in terms of both market share and assets. The majority of consumers already own a credit card, and most who use them frequently own several. As a result, competition for new customers is fierce, and is driven in large part by new young consumers. Rewards provide both the allure and differentiation in a consumer’s choice of card, but issuers must also combat a lack of motivation to apply as well as a reticence to take on more debt."
- Chris Shadle, Financial Services Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • In a saturated market, consumers are polarized
  • Simplicity is key, cash back is favored
  • Indicators point to potential troubles ahead

What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Key findings
          • In a saturated market, consumers are polarized
            • Simplicity is key, cash back is favored
              • Indicators point to potential troubles ahead
                • What it means
                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                  • Consumers love credit
                    • Credit debt and delinquencies both on the rise
                      • Macroeconomic indicators convey healthy market for spending
                      • Market Size

                        • Number of open credit accounts has risen 20% in five years
                          • Figure 1: Number of open credit card accounts, Q4 2013-Q4 2018
                        • More than 4 in 5 consumers have a credit card, and half have multiple
                          • Figure 2: Number of credit cards used in past 3 months, May 2019
                      • Market Factors

                        • Amidst sea of other debt, credit card balances have returned to pre-recession levels…
                          • Figure 3: Consumer debt balance, non-housing debt, Q1 2003-Q1 2019
                        • …while credit card delinquencies creep upwards
                          • Figure 4: Flow into Serious Delinquency (90 days or more delinquent)†
                        • High consumer sentiment + low unemployment = greater spending?
                          • Figure 5: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-19
                      • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                        • Big players have near total market penetration
                          • Experiential rewards are the biggest draw
                            • Beware the “churner”
                              • Consumers need help with their cards
                                • New players and products add new possibilities
                                • What’s Working

                                  • Top six issuers enjoy ~90% market penetration
                                    • Figure 6: Market share of top US credit card issuers, May 2019
                                  • In the age of FOMO, experiential rewards are in
                                    • Figure 7: Value of experiences over things, April 2019
                                    • Figure 8: Chase Sapphire Reserve offer materials, September 2016
                                    • Figure 9: Capital One Savor acquisition email, November 2018
                                  • Third-party comparison sites are a go-to destination
                                    • Figure 10: Nerdwallet credit card comparison homepage, August 2019
                                    • Figure 11: Amazon credit card comparison homepage, August 2019
                                • What’s Struggling?

                                  • Churners are costing the industry money
                                    • Issuers need to help consumers take full advantage of their rewards
                                      • Figure 12: Attitudes toward credit cards – CHAID – Tree output, June 2019
                                      • Figure 13: Attitudes toward credit cards – CHAID – Table output, June 2019
                                    • Consumers aren’t paying off balances, and their debt is causing them stress
                                      • Figure 14: Paying credit card balance in full, by race & ethnicity, May 2019
                                  • What’s Next?

                                    • Apple Card will be first big test of tech’s foray into finance
                                      • Figure 15: Apple Card announcement, March 2019
                                      • Figure 16: attitudes toward large financial corporations, April 2019
                                    • Knowing the cool kid has perks: the rise of influencer marketing
                                      • Figure 17: Rose gold American Express refer-a-friend, July 2019
                                    • New ground to be tackled: Healthcare?
                                      • Figure 18: fitness bank homepage, August 2019
                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                    • Most consumers are using either one or two cards per month
                                      • Cash is king: parts I & II
                                        • People aren’t terribly motivated to apply for a credit card
                                          • Play and get played
                                            • Rewards are the norm, and looks count
                                            • How Many Cards Are In Your Wallet?

                                              • Most consumers use one or two cards
                                                • Figure 19: Number of credit cards used in past 3 months, May 2019
                                              • Consumers are using their cards a lot; Gen Z only exception
                                                • Figure 20: Credit card use in past 30 days, May 2019
                                              • Who doesn’t have a credit card?
                                                • Figure 21: Consumers without a credit card, by area, race & ethnicity, and generation, May 2019
                                            • Rewards Earn and Redemption

                                              • Cash(back) is king
                                                • Figure 22: Type of credit card rewards earned, May 2019
                                              • Multiple-card users follow predictable hierarchy: Cash > Points > Miles
                                                • Figure 23: Type of credit card rewards earned, by number of cards used in past 3 months, May 2019
                                              • Cash & Points are most popular combo; store cards lure Gen Z and Millennials
                                                • Figure 24: Most popular rewards combinations among consumers with 2+ Credit cards, May 2019
                                              • When redeeming, cash wins out (even among travel cardholders)
                                                • Figure 25: Most popular rewards redemption method, May 2019
                                            • Motivation to Apply

                                              • Consumers aren’t highly motivated, but cash and lack of fees are the most enticing
                                                • Figure 26: Motivating factors to apply for a credit card, May 2019
                                              • Balance transfers and credit building cards have youth appeal
                                                • Figure 27: Motivating factors to apply for a credit card, by age, May 2019
                                            • Credit Card Behaviors

                                              • Young consumers more likely to game system, to be gamed by it
                                                • Figure 28: Credit card rewards redemption and expiry trends, by age, May 2019
                                              • Carrying a credit card balance is quite common
                                                • Figure 29: Paying credit card balance in full, by race & ethnicity, May 2019
                                              • Parents tend to game the system a bit more
                                                • Figure 30: General credit card behaviors, by parental status, May 2019
                                            • Attitudes toward Cards

                                              • Consumers are willing to pay, and looks matter
                                                • Figure 31: Attitudes toward physical card, and card rewards, by age, may 2019
                                              • Touting security benefits could drive mobile wallet adoption
                                                • Figure 32: Attitudes toward credit card security and mobile wallet use, May 2019
                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                              • Data sources
                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                  • Direct marketing creative
                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                        • CHAID Methodology

                                                        About the report

                                                        This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                        • The Consumer

                                                          What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                        • The Competitors

                                                          Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                        • The Market

                                                          Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                        • The Innovations

                                                          New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                        • The Opportunities

                                                          Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                        • The Trends

                                                          What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                        Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

                                                        Trusted by companies. Big and small.

                                                        • bell
                                                        • boots
                                                        • google
                                                        • samsung
                                                        • allianz
                                                        • kelloggs
                                                        • walgreens
                                                        • redbull
                                                        • unilever
                                                        • Harvard
                                                        • pinterest
                                                        • new-york-time