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Number of Credit Cards and Credit Card Holders

CH-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.

The number of credit cards from the four primary credit card networks (i.e. VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) is 546 million.
(Sources: Visa.com, MasterCard.com, AmericanExpress.com, Discover.com, Nilson Report, February, 2012)

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau there were:

  • 1.43 billion credit cards in 2000
  • 1.49 billion credit cards in 2008
  • That number is projected to be 1.167 billion credit cards by 2012*.

This data includes the number of store credit cards, which almost equals the number of credit cards from all four primary credit card networks combined.

Number of credit cards (In Millions)

Type of Credit Card 2000 2003 2007 2008 2011 Projected* 2012 Projected*
Visa 255 283 321 304 282 261
Mastercard 200 267 279 260 211 174
Store 597 521 546 539 463 455
Oil Company 98 86 73 65 61 60
Discover 50 54 57 58 56 59
American Express 33 36 52 54 54 52
Other 192 185 166 160 150 106
Total 1,425 1,433 1,493 1,493 1,278 1,167
*Figures are classified as projections when actual data from a particular year are not yet available. Statistics of this nature tend to lag behind the calendar due to the manner in which underlying data are accumulated and analyzed.
(Source Census Bureau)

Also according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were:

  • 159 million credit cardholders in the United States in 2000.
  • 176 million in 2008.
  • That number was projected to grow to 183 million U.S. cardholders by 2011 and then drop to 160 million cardholders in 2012.

Number of cardholders (In Millions)

Type of Credit Card 2000 2003 2007 2008 2011 Projected* 2012 Projected*
Visa 93 94 107 108 104 107
Mastercard 86 96 105 100 83 94
Store 114 115 114 114 99 96
Oil Company 76 68 58 62 56 56
Discover 36 40 42 42 42 43
American Express 23 27 35 36 46 37
Other 133 130 120 6 6 81
Total 159 164 176 176 183 160
*Figures are classified as projections when actual data from a particular year are not yet available. Statistics of this nature tend to lag behind the calendar due to the manner in which underlying data are accumulated and analyzed.
(Source: Census Bureau)
  • According to Experian, there are 2.19 open credit accounts per individual with credit history. If there are between 220 and 230 million adults in the U.S, this data indicates that there are between 481.8 million and 503.7 million credit cards nationwide, as opposed to 759 – 793.5 million in 2011, a 63.47% drop.
    (Source: Experian National Score Index 2013)

In regards to households:

  • 78 percent of U.S. households, representing 91.1 million, had one or more credit cards at the end of 2008. At the end of 2007, there were 90.4 million households with cards.
    (Source: Nilson Report, April 2009)
  • Approximately 74.9 percent of the U.S. families surveyed in 2004 had credit cards, and 58 percent of those families carried a balance. In 2001, 76.2 percent of families had credit cards, and 55 percent of those families carried a balance.
    (Source: Federal Reserve)
  • By early 2009, offers to households for new credit cards had dropped to around one-fifth of their count in 2006. Card solicitations have turned up over the course of 2010, but they remain well below their pre-crisis levels.
  • Consumer credit equaled 21.59% of household debt at the end of 2012, up from 20.33% the prior year. Consumer credit per household was $22,862.
    (Source: Nilson report, June 2013)

Number of Credit Card Accounts (In Millions)

Year Number of Credit Card Accounts Q1 Number of Credit Card Accounts Q2 Number of Credit Card Accounts Q3 Number of Credit Card Accounts Q4
1999 365.16 364.67 373.45 371.65
2000 384.68 394.51 386.70 414.02
2001 419.78 447.93 437.47 467.48
2002 466.88 477.83 474.13 478.80
2003 469.81 468.94 457.64 452.71
2004 449.62 458.26 447.07 448.43
2005 451.95 450.14 452.34 455.91
2006 458.41 460.35 454.64 451.28
2007 444.88 474.74 478.86 481.44
2008 474.57 496.12 492.19 472.17
2009 434.25 412.38 401.77 394.27
2010 385.86 380.54 377.90 380.07
2011 379.34 389.17 383.27 386.20
2012 386.00 383.00 382.00 383.00
2013 383.00* 383.00* N/A N/A
*Assessment based on: “The number of credit inquiries within six months were roughly flat – an indicator of consumer credit demand . There were 159 million inquiries in 2013Q2, compared to 158 million inquiries in 2013Q1.“
(Source:FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax)

Number of Credit Cards per Cardholder

  • Consumers have an average of 3.45 open credit accounts, including bank cards and retail cards.
    (Source: Experian National Score Index, June 2011)
  • On average, today’s consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, or bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Of these 13 credit obligations, 9 are likely to be credit cards and 4 are likely to be installment loans.
    (Source: myFICO.com)
  • In 2007 approximately 51 percent of the U.S. population had at least two credit cards and approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population had more than 10 credit cards.
    (Source: Experian National Score Index study, February 2007)
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