Average Number of Credit Cards Per Person 2022

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Last Update: January 20, 2022 Credit Cards Studies
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With Americans’ wallets boosted by unprecedented fiscal stimulus, Experian’s State of Credit 2021 shows that the average number of credit cards per person held steady at 3.0 in 2021. For context, the average was 3.0 in 2020 and 3.0 in 2019.

Conversely, Americans’ average credit card debt is $5,525 in 2021 — a decrease of 6% year-over-year (YoY) and 15% from 2019.

Average Number of Credit Cards per Person 2022: Statistics and Key Findings

National Statistics:

Experian’s State of Credit 2021 shows that the average number of credit cards per person held steady at 3.0 in 2021. For context, the average was 3.0 in 2020 and 3.0 in 2019.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) estimates that Americans carried an average of 3.8 credit cards at the end of 2020 — a decrease of 5% from 2018.

Americans’ average credit card debt is $5,525 in 2021 — a decrease of 6% year-over-year (YoY) and 15% from 2019.

By State:

Residents of New Jersey (4.54), Connecticut (4.21), and Rhode Island (4.16) have the highest average number of credit cards per person. In contrast, residents of Alaska (3.06), South Dakota (3.22), and Mississippi/District of Columbia (3.26) have the lowest average number of credit cards per person.

Massachusetts (-6%) and New York (-6%) recorded the most significant YoY percentage declines, while 11 other states tied for second place at -5%. Conversely, Oklahoma (-1%) and Mississippi (-1%) recorded the least significant YoY percentage declines, while five other states tied for second place at -2%.

By Millennial FICO Score:

There is a small correlation (0.31) between Millennials’ credit scores and their average number of credit cards.

Millennials in New Jersey (3.85), California (3.61), and New York (3.58) have the highest average number of credit cards per person. Moreover, New Jersey (702) and New York (701) are states where Millennials’ average FICO Scores rank in the top 16.

Millennials in Mississippi (2.70), South Dakota (2.77), and Wyoming (2.78) have the lowest average number of credit cards per person. And Mississippi (644) and Wyoming (689) are states where Millennials’ average FICO Scores rank in the bottom 22.

The CFPB estimates that less than 50% of Americans with weak subprime credit scores own a credit card. However, Americans with near-prime (91%) and subprime (78%) credit scores are more likely to hold a credit card.

By Age:

Baby boomers (3.40) own the highest average number of credit cards per person, while Generation Z (1.70) owns the lowest average number of credit cards per person.

Baby boomers (56-74) and the silent generation (75+) reduced their credit card ownership by 26% YoY as of Q3 2021, while Generation Z reduced its credit card ownership by 11% YoY.

By College Students:

College students, graduates, and non-completers own an average of 5.20, 5.50, and 4.10 credit cards, respectively. However, with the median less influenced by outliers, Sallie Mae’s data shows that the trio holds a median number of 2.00, 3.00, and 3.00 credit cards, respectively.

The highest percentage of students (33%) and non-completers (23%) surveyed said they own a credit card. However, the highest proportion of graduates (24%) surveyed said they hold two credit cards. Also noteworthy, 9% of respondents admitted to owning 11 or more credit cards across all groups.

By Gender:

Roughly 95 million men in the U.S. have at least one credit card, while 97 million women have achieved the same milestone.

Roughly 74% of American women 18+ own at least one credit card, while 74.9% of American men 18+ own at least one credit card.

The CFPB estimates that 181 million (~70%) of U.S. adults own at least one credit card.

By Income:

98% of Americans with annual incomes of $100,000 or more own at least one credit card. Conversely, only 56% of Americans with annual incomes less than $25,000 own at least one credit card.

60% (< $25,000) and 57% ($25,000–$49,999) of the lowest-earning Americans are more likely to carry their credit card balances from month to month. Conversely, only 38% of the highest-earning Americans ($100,000+) incur the same predicament.

By Race:

92% of Asian Americans and 87% of White Americans own at least one credit card. Conversely, only 76% of Hispanic Americans and 72% of Black Americans achieved the same milestone.

Only 9% of Asian Americans and 19% of White Americans were denied credit, while potential lenders turned 41% of Black Americans and 76% of Hispanic Americans away.

By Education:

96% of Americans with a bachelor’s degree or more and 82% of Americans with some post-secondary degree own at least one credit card. Conversely, 74% of American high school/GED graduates and 48% of Americans that didn’t finish high school own at least one credit card.

By Employment Status:

Americans who lost their jobs over the last 12 months increased their credit card debt by 39%. Conversely, Americans that remain gainfully employed only increased their credit card debt by 24%.

Average Number of Credit Cards per Person 2022: Charts, Graph, Analysis

Average Number of Credit Cards in America

With pandemic assistance shoring up Americans’ finances, their need for credit declined in 2021. For example, not only has Americans’ average number of credit cards per person remained constant and their average credit card debt declined, but the average revolving utilization rate has fallen as well.

Experian’s data shows that the average revolving utilization rate is 25% in 2021 — a decrease of 4% YoY and 17% from 2019.

Segment: 2019: 2020: 2021: Change:
Average Number of Credit Cards 3.00 3.00 3.00 0%
Average Credit Card Debt $6,494 $5,897 $5,525 -6%
Average Revolving Utilization Rate 30% 26% 25% -4%

Average Number of Credit Cards by State

At the state level, Experian found that the average number of credit cards per person declined YoY in all U.S. states in the third quarter of 2020.

Massachusetts (-6%) and New York (-6%) recorded the most significant YoY percentage declines, while 11 other states tied for second place at -5%. Conversely, Oklahoma (-1%) and Mississippi (-1%) recorded the least significant YoY percentage declines, while five other states tied for second place at -2%.

In addition, residents of New Jersey (4.54), Connecticut (4.21), and Rhode Island (4.16) have the highest average number of credit cards per person. In contrast, residents of Alaska (3.06), South Dakota (3.22), and Mississippi/District of Columbia (3.26) have the lowest average number of credit cards per person.

State: 2019: Q3 2020: Change:
Alabama 3.51 3.42 -3%
Alaska 3.20 3.06 -4%
Arizona 3.85 3.73 -3%
Arkansas 3.56 3.48 -2%
California 4.11 3.93 -4%
Colorado 3.83 3.68 -4%
Connecticut 4.43 4.21 -5%
Delaware 4.28 4.10 -4%
District of Columbia 3.42 3.26 -5%
Florida 4.33 4.15 -4%
Georgia 3.88 3.76 -3%
Hawaii 3.76 3.56 -5%
Idaho 3.66 3.56 -3%
Illinois 4.23 4.04 -5%
Indiana 3.77 3.65 -3%
Iowa 3.63 3.48 -4%
Kansas 3.82 3.67 -4%
Kentucky 3.69 3.56 -4%
Louisiana 3.57 3.47 -3%
Maine 3.57 3.45 -3%
Maryland 4.08 3.91 -4%
Massachusetts 4.13 3.89 -6%
Michigan 3.99 3.81 -5%
Minnesota 3.79 3.62 -5%
Mississippi 3.29 3.26 -1%
Missouri 3.85 3.74 -3%
Montana 3.39 3.31 -2%
Nebraska 3.87 3.68 -5%
Nevada 4.08 3.95 -3%
New Hampshire 4.09 3.90 -5%
New Jersey 4.78 4.54 -5%
New Mexico 3.52 3.38 -4%
New York 4.39 4.14 -6%
North Carolina 3.77 3.65 -3%
North Dakota 3.67 3.52 -4%
Ohio 4.14 3.96 -4%
Oklahoma 3.45 3.40 -1%
Oregon 3.58 3.43 -4%
Pennsylvania 4.24 4.05 -5%
Rhode Island 4.35 4.16 -4%
South Carolina 3.68 3.62 -2%
South Dakota 3.39 3.22 -5%
Tennessee 3.64 3.54 -3%
Texas 4.03 3.91 -3%
Utah 3.61 3.49 -3%
Vermont 3.49 3.35 -4%
Virginia 3.98 3.83 -4%
Washington 3.67 3.53 -4%
West Virginia 3.69 3.60 -2%
Wisconsin 3.76 3.62 -4%
Wyoming 3.34 3.28 -2%

Average Number of Credit Cards by Millennial FICO Score

When analyzing Experian’s November 2021 study on Millennial credit card debt, we found a small correlation (0.31) between Millennials’ credit scores and their average number of credit cards.

For example, Millennials in New Jersey (3.85), California (3.61), and New York (3.58) have the highest average number of credit cards per person. Moreover, New Jersey (702) and New York (701) are states where Millennials’ average FICO Scores rank in the top 16.

Likewise, Millennials in Mississippi (2.70), South Dakota (2.77), and Wyoming (2.78) have the lowest average number of credit cards per person. And Mississippi (644) and Wyoming (689) are states where Millennials’ average FICO Scores rank in the bottom 22.

Also noteworthy, Millennials in Alaska ($5,388), Washington, D.C. ($5,118), and New Jersey ($5,034) have the highest average credit card debt. Conversely, Millennials in Mississippi ($3,724), Kentucky ($3,826), and Vermont ($3,843) have the lowest average credit card debt.

State: Average # of Credit Cards: Average FICO Score: Average Credit Card Debt:
Alabama 2.79 653 $4,017
Alaska 2.79 691 $5,388
Arizona 3.27 676 $4,394
Arkansas 2.94 658 $3,990
California 3.61 697 $4,578
Colorado 3.23 702 $4,841
Connecticut 3.55 698 $4,975
Delaware 3.33 678 $4,441
Florida 3.46 671 $4,888
Georgia 3.14 662 $4,573
Hawaii 3.16 704 $4,948
Idaho 3.13 694 $4,003
Illinois 3.54 692 $4,568
Indiana 3.09 678 $3,959
Iowa 3.05 697 $4,303
Kansas 3.15 690 $4,450
Kentucky 2.99 667 $3,826
Louisiana 2.90 658 $4,230
Maine 2.89 691 $4,038
Maryland 3.25 690 $4,777
Massachusetts 3.31 710 $4,396
Michigan 3.19 685 $3,975
Minnesota 3.14 716 $4,243
Mississippi 2.70 644 $3,724
Missouri 3.11 677 $4,192
Montana 2.87 696 $4,410
Nebraska 3.25 703 $4,394
Nevada 3.43 670 $4,725
New Hampshire 3.20 703 $4,483
New Jersey 3.85 702 $5,034
New Mexico 2.99 664 $4,152
New York 3.58 701 $4,786
North Carolina 3.11 676 $4,302
North Dakota 3.08 706 $4,712
Ohio 3.29 682 $4,154
Oklahoma 2.90 660 $4,355
Oregon 3.10 703 $4,090
Pennsylvania 3.40 693 $4,353
Rhode Island 3.56 694 $4,581
South Carolina 2.92 656 $4,352
South Dakota 2.77 704 $4,232
Tennessee 2.96 670 $4,254
Texas 3.43 667 $4,885
Utah 3.15 707 $4,236
Vermont 2.79 706 $3,843
Virginia 3.23 694 $4,999
Washington 3.25 710 $4,582
Washington, D.C. 3.07 715 $5,118
West Virginia 3.08 659 $4,213
Wisconsin 3.17 703 $3,920
Wyoming 2.78 689 $4,571

Average Number of Credit Cards by Age

When breaking down the data by age, Experian’s April 2021 study shows that Generation Z was the only age cohort to increase its average number of credit cards relative to 2019.

However, after Experian provided another update in September 2021, the company revealed that Americans’ average number of credit cards per person declined by double-digit percentages across all age groups.

For example, baby boomers (56-74) and the silent generation (75+) reduced their credit card ownership by 26% YoY as of Q3 2021, while Generation Z reduced its credit card ownership by 11% YoY.

All in all, baby boomers (3.40) own the highest average number of credit cards per person, while Generation Z (1.70) owns the lowest average number of credit cards per person.

Generation: 2019: Q3 2020: Q3 2021: Change:
Generation Z (18-23) 1.76 1.91 1.70 -11%
Millennials (24-39) 3.18 3.18 2.70 -15%
Generation X (40-55) 4.35 4.23 3.30 -22%
Baby boomers (56-74) 4.81 4.61 3.40 -26%
Silent generation (75+) 4.00 3.64 2.70 -26%

Average Number of Credit Cards Held by College Students

Sallie Mae’s 2019 Majoring in Money study shows that college students, graduates, and non-completers own an average of 5.20, 5.50, and 4.10 credit cards, respectively. However, with the median less influenced by outliers, Sallie Mae’s data shows that the trio holds a median number of 2.00, 3.00, and 3.00 credit cards, respectively.

Interestingly, the highest percentage of students (33%) and non-completers (23%) surveyed said they own a credit card. However, the highest proportion of graduates (24%) surveyed said they hold two credit cards.

Also noteworthy, 9% of respondents admitted to owning 11 or more credit cards across all groups.

# of Credit Cards: Students: Graduates: Non-Completers:
One 33% 17% 23%
Two 25% 24% 21%
Three 12% 15% 11%
Four 7% 14% 11%
Five 6% 7% 14%
Six 4% 6% 5%
Seven 1% 3% 2%
Eight 2% 3% 2%
Nine 1% 1% 1%
Ten 1% 1% 0%
Eleven+ 9% 9% 9%
Median # of Credit Cards 2.00 3.00 3.00
Average # of Credit Cards 5.20 5.50 4.10

Number of Credit Cards by Gender

Across gender lines, roughly 95 million men in the U.S. have at least one credit card, while 97 million women have achieved the same milestone.

Interestingly, Americans 18 or older can apply for a credit card. And with the latest July 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau showing that women account for 50.8% of the nearly 331.9 million total U.S. population, we estimate that roughly 131 million women and 126.9 million men are 18 or older.

As a result, roughly 74% of American women 18+ own at least one credit card, while 74.9% of American men 18+ own at least one credit card.

Gender: # With at Least One Credit Card (Millions): % of U.S. Gender Population 18+:
Men 95 74.9%
Women 97 74.0%

Credit Card Ownership by Income

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s (Fed) latest Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report shows that 98% of Americans with annual incomes of $100,000 or more own at least one credit card. Conversely, only 56% of Americans with annual incomes less than $25,000 own at least one credit card.

What’s more, the 60% (< $25,000) and 57% ($25,000–$49,999) of the lowest-earning Americans were more likely to carry their credit card balances from month to month. Conversely, only 38% of the highest-earning Americans ($100,000+) incur the same predicament.

Family Income: % of Adults With 1+ Credit Card: % of Credit Card Holders With 1+ Balance Over Last 12 Months:
< $25,000 56% 57%
$25,000–$49,999 85% 60%
$50,000–$99,999 94% 52%
$100,000+ 98% 38%

Credit Card Ownership by Race

When decomposing the numbers by race, the Fed found that 92% of Asian Americans and 87% of White Americans own at least one credit card. Conversely, only 76% of Hispanic Americans and 72% of Black Americans achieved the same milestone.

Likewise, only 9% of Asian Americans and 19% of White Americans were denied credit, while potential lenders turned 41% of Black Americans and 76% of Hispanic Americans away.

For context, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that Hispanic Americans 16 years or older earned $779 in median weekly earnings in the third quarter of 2021 — the lowest among all ethnic groups and 22% below the racial average. Likewise, Black Americans 16 years or older earned $799 in median weekly earnings in the third quarter of 2021 — the second-lowest among all ethnic groups and 20% below the racial average.

Conversely, Asian Americans 16 years or older earned $1,309 in median weekly earnings in the third quarter of 2021 — the highest among all ethnic groups and 31% above the racial average. And White Americans 16 years or older earned $1,024 in median weekly earnings in the third quarter of 2021 — the second-highest among all ethnic groups and 23% above the racial average.

In addition, a recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to have errors and disputes on their credit profiles than other races. And whether it’s auto loans, student loans, credit cards, or retail cards, jurisdictions with mostly White residents had less than half the number of disputes on their credit reports than jurisdictions with mostly Black residents.

As a result, the current lending environment is less favorable for Black and Hispanic Americans.

Race: % of Adults With 1+ Credit Card: % Denied Credit: % Approved For < Asked:
White 87% 19% 24%
Black 72% 41% 51%
Hispanic 76% 36% 46%
Asian 92% 9% 16%

Credit Card Ownership by Education

When zeroing in on education levels, you can see that credit card ownership increases with academic achievement. And considering that income plays a pivotal role in credit accessibility, it’s no surprise that individuals with post-secondary education own more credit cards.

For example, 96% of Americans with a bachelor’s degree or more and 82% of Americans with some post-secondary degree own at least one credit card. Conversely, 74% of American high school/GED graduates and 48% of Americans that didn’t finish high school own at least one credit card.

Education: % of Adults With 1+ Credit Card: % of Credit Card Holders With 1+ Balance Over Past 12 Months:
< high school degree 48% 59%
High school degree/GED 74% 58%
Some college/technical or associate degree 82% 59%
Bachelor’s degree+ 96% 37%

Credit Card Usage by Employment Status

The Fed’s 2021 report shows that Americans who lost their jobs over the last 12 months increased their credit card debt by 39%. Conversely, Americans that remain gainfully employed only increased their credit card debt by 24%.

Employment Status: Decreased Credit Card Debt: Same Credit Card Debt: Increased Credit Card Debt:
Employed 36% 40% 24%
Unemployed 28% 33% 39%
Combined 34% 39% 36%

Demand for Credit Card Loans

The Fed’s latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices shows that demand for credit card loans increased in late 2021.

For example, the net percentage of U.S. banks reporting more robust demand for credit card loans plunged by 23% and 65% in Q2 2020 and Q3 2020 when COVID-19 struck. However, the net percentage of U.S. banks reporting more robust demand for credit card loans increased to 32% in Q3 2021 and is now at 16% in Q4 2021.

As a result, Americans show an increased appetite for credit card debt.

Period: Net % of U.S. Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Credit Card Loans:
2012:Q1 8%
2012:Q2 18%
2012:Q3 11%
2012:Q4 9%
2013:Q1 -4%
2013:Q2 12%
2013:Q3 8%
2013:Q4 8%
2014:Q1 11%
2014:Q2 10%
2014:Q3 20%
2014:Q4 8%
2015:Q1 6%
2015:Q2 10%
2015:Q3 4%
2015:Q4 14%
2016:Q1 0%
2016:Q2 6%
2016:Q3 10%
2016:Q4 15%
2017:Q1 -8%
2017:Q2 -10%
2017:Q3 -6%
2017:Q4 0%
2018:Q1 0%
2018:Q2 -10%
2018:Q3 -2%
2018:Q4 -4%
2019:Q1 -17%
2019:Q2 -7%
2019:Q3 6%
2019:Q4 6%
2020:Q1 2%
2020:Q2 -23%
2020:Q3 -65%
2020:Q4 2%
2021:Q1 2%
2021:Q2 2%
2021:Q3 32%
2021:Q4 16%

The Latest from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

The CFPB’s latest biennial report to Congress on the credit card market has some interesting insights:

  • The CFPB estimates that Americans carried an average of 3.8 credit cards at the end of 2020 (a decrease of 5% from 2018).
  • The CFPB estimates that 181 million (~70%) of U.S. adults own at least one credit card. For context, the Bureau’s findings align with our gender estimates above.
  • The CFPB estimates that less than 50% of Americans with weak subprime credit scores own a credit card. However, Americans with near-prime (91%) and subprime (78%) credit scores are more likely to hold a credit card.
  • The CFPB estimates that more than 25 million U.S. credit card borrowers entered forbearance programs during the pandemic.
  • The CFPB estimates that 80% of Americans use online banking portals to manage their credit card accounts (up from 55% in 2014).
  • The CFPB estimates that 64% of Americans use online apps to manage their credit card accounts (up from 30% in 2015). For context, 93% of Americans under 25 use their institution’s mobile app, while only 36% of Americans over 65 use theirs.

How We Conducted The Study

ElitePersonalFinance always has up-to-date studies.

Our goal is to consolidate the information and present the findings in a way that’s easy to understand by parsing through the latest data from reliable sources. If you enjoyed the study, please provide your feedback. Moreover, if there is anything that we missed or anything that you believe needs updating, please let us know, and we will respond promptly.

Conclusion

With stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits fortifying Americans’ finances, demand for credit waned throughout the pandemic. However, with U.S. commercial banks’ credit card and revolving loans hitting a new 2021 high of $797.1 billion for the week ending Dec. 15, 2021, Americans are swiping their credit cards again. Moreover, with the net percentage of U.S. banks also reporting that credit card loan demand was buoyant in Q3 and Q4 2021, the momentum should continue in 2022.

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