Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults now carry a general-purpose credit card, and credit cards are gaining popularity with young adults, according to new consumer survey findings from Mercator Advisory Group Inc.
The Maynard, Mass.-based research and consulting firm reported this week that 63% of U.S. consumers have a major-brand credit card, up from 61% in 2015. What’s more, for the first time since Mercator started tracking credit card use in 2009, adults ages 25 to 34 years old are more likely than average to use a credit card—65% to 63%, Mercator said.
“And that figure is rising fast, up from 59% in 2015 and 48% in 2013,” the firm said in a news release.
Young adults in recent years have shown a decided preference for debit cards, and that preference still holds, according to Mercator. But the shift toward online and mobile shopping is working in credit’s favor. “While U.S. consumers today are just as likely to prefer to use a credit card as a debit card in stores, far more prefer to use credit cards at online retailers than debit cards, or any other payment form for that matter,” Mercator said. “Security issues as well as better rewards for credit card use are the primary reasons they indicate for preferring to use credit cards online.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve this week released its latest monthly consumer credit report, which says that consumer revolving credit increased at a 2.9% seasonally adjusted annualized rate in October, down from 5% in September. Revolving credit outstandings, however, increased 6% to $981.3 billion in October from $926 billion a year earlier.
About three-fourths of revolving credit outstandings are linked to credit cards. Revolving credit plunged by nearly 19% in the recession from its high of $1.02 trillion in April 2008. But after more than five years of recovery, outstandings are now only 4% short of that mark.