This article serves as a reference for credit card data and statistics. We spent 20+ hours cleaning, analyzing, and visualizing data from the Federal Reserve1 to provide a comprehensive yet succinct summary of consumer credit card facts and trends. We represent almost all the data through visualizations.
Using this data as a reference, consumers can better plan than credit journey. Investors, journalists, and content creators can use it to contextualize the market and inform better decisions.
15 Top Statistics
- 24.7% of personal loan holders get rejected for credit cards
- $8,377 is the average credit card balance
- 82% is the global credit card approval rate
- $6,600 credit card balance is the breaking point to obtaining a 760+ credit score
- 620 – 670 scorers represent >25% of credit card max outs
- 65% of forceful account closure happens to with bad (<620) and exceptional (>760) credit
- >680 scorers have a 23% higher chance of CC approval than <680 scores
- Seniors (75+) have the highest CC balances
- $7,583 is the average CC balance for successfully acquiring a second CC
- Mortgage + credit card is the most common credit combination
- Almost 40% of consumers who don’t apply for CC are motivated by fear of rejection
- A 2x multiple of [balance]/[requested credit] is the “breaking point” for dramatic increases in approval
- 74% of Americans own at least one credit card
- Less than 1% of consumers with credit cards have >5 lines of credit or loans at a time
- 620 – 679 scorers have a 10% chance of receiving only part of the credit they request
Debt Balances & Limits
Using the latest data available (2019 and 2020), the average debt balance for credit cards is $8,813. The average credit limit granted is $3,176 for new credit cards and $1,995 for credit limit increase requests.
Global Approval Rates
The global approval rates refer to credit card applications are also sourced from 2019 and 2020 data. They tell a favorable story of 82%+ approval rates, which is largely do to growth in credit scores above 760 across the nation (more below).
Credit Scores in the Population
This pie chart shows credit score percentages in the population as a total from 2013 to 2022. Nearly half of the population has a very good credit score above 760.
Percent of Population with Credit Cards
Credit cards are the most common consumer debt instrument, with nearly 75% of Americans owning at least one.
Average Credit Card Interest Rates Over Time
- Credit card rates in 2023 are the highest they have been in 20 years at roughly 20%.
- The average credit card interest rates are between 12% and 16% based on historical figures.
Credit Card Balances
Average Credit Card Balances Over Time (+ 25th and 90th Percentiles)
- The average credit card balance has remained stable for the past 10 years at about $7,000.
- The 90th percentile balance is more than twice as high at $18,000.
- The 23th percentile balance is far lower at only $500.
Average Credit Card Balance by Age
This data is sourced from 2019 as the most recent year with a age breakdown. It shows that seniors and those aged 45 – 54 have the highest credit card balances, hovering the $8,000 point. We’re not speculators, but a possible explanation is that those in their mid-forties begin taking risks and use cards to fund this risk, and seniors need support to live while they’re not working.
Average Credit Card Balance by Credit Score
- Consumers with credit scores between 680 and 719 have the highest balances at $12,209 on average based on data from 2013 – 2022.
- Credit card balance is stable between $10,000 and $12,000 for consumers with other credit scores, except for those who aren’t aware of their score or have a score above 760.
- This dynamic suggests getting into the “great” score category requires strict balance management to keep outstanding debt under $6,600.
Average Limits Granted for New Cards and Limit Increases, by Credit Score
- Consumers have a higher chance of acquiring credit by obtaining new credit cards rather than requesting limit increases.
- This is especially true for those with scores between 680 and 719, who can get almost 2x as much credit opening a card versus requesting a limit increase.
Average Total Credit Granted by Credit Score
Consumers who both obtain a new card AND get a credit limit increase obtain between $1,437 and $17,627 in new credit dollars.
Average Ratio of Balance to Credit Approval, by Credit Score
- Consumers with 4x outstanding balance versus credit amounts granted receive much less than those with 2x multiples.
- This dynamic correlates to credit scores above and below 720. Consumers with scores above 720 have less than 2x multiples on average and those below 720 have greater than 2x multiples
- 2x multiple is the “breaking point” for dramatic increase in approved credit (applies to both new cards and credit limit increases).
Account Maximization & Closures
Percent (%) of Consumers Maxing Out Credit Cards
- Consumers with credit scores between 620 and 679 have the highest chance of maxing out their cards, with nearly 26% of of the peer group.
- Consumers with scores below 620 and between 680 and 719 are slightly less susceptible to maxing out their cards, but only by about 5% within the peer group.
- Consumers who don’t know their score and those with 760+ credit scores have the smallest chances, with less than 7% share of the peer group each.
Percent (%) of Consumers Voluntarily & Forcefully Closing Account
- Consumers with credit scores above 760 are more active account managers, closing more than 44% of accounts in the peer group.
- Lenders are most likely to close accounts for consumers with credit scores on the fringes — below 620 and above 760.
Reasons for Action
Percent (%) of Consumers Who Don’t Apply for Credit Cards due to Belief in Rejection
- Consumers who don’t access credit through cards believe they won’t be approved in about 38% of cases.
- This believe has slowly improved over the past decade, from as high as 42% in 2016 to 32% in 2020.
Percent (%) of Consumers with Credit Cards and Other Credit Instruments
- Most credit cardholders have only one additional credit line or loan, followed closely by 2 others.
- Less than 5% of consumers with credit cards have 5 in total.
- Less than 1% of consumers with credit cards have 6 in total.
Most Common Credit Combinations with Cards
- The most popular credit credit card combination is with mortgages, at 28% of the peer group.
- The most popular triple combination is with mortgages and car loans, at 24% of the peer group.
- The most popular quadruple combination is with mortgages, car loans, and student loans, at 10% of the peer group.
- The most popular quintuple combination is with mortgages, car loans, student loans, and personal loans, at at 3% of the peer group.
- Less than 1% of combos include mortgages, car loans, student loans, personal loans, and other home-based loans such as HELOCs.
Credit Card Approval Rates
Approval Rates by Quantity of Other Loans/Lines of Credit
This visual shows how likely a consumer is to be approved for a new credit card based on the number of existing loans or lines of credit they have. Interestingly, it is not linear.
Most Common Combinations in Order of Approval Rate
This picture shows the most common combinations in order of their likelihood to be approved for a new card.
Credit Card Approval Rates by Existing Loans/Lines of Credit
This chart shows the likelihood of credit card approval based on the simple ownership of another credit instrument. Mortgages have the highest likelihood of approval at 85%, and personal loans have the lowest at 67%
Credit Card Approval Rates by Outstanding Balances for each Credit Score Range
This visual shows the average balance of each loan or line of credit when approved for a new credit card.
Above 760 Credit Score
This visual shows the average balance of each loan or line of credit when approved for a new credit card for consumers with 760 credit or better.
720 – 760 Credit Score
This visual shows the average balance of each loan or line of credit when approved for a new credit card for consumers with 720 – 760 credit.
680 – 719 Credit Score
This visual shows the average balance of each loan or line of credit when approved for a new credit card for consumers with 680 – 719 credit.
620 – 679 Credit Score
This visual shows the average balance of each loan or line of credit when approved for a new credit card for consumers with 620 – 679 credit.
Below 620 Credit Score
This visual shows the average balance of each loan or line of credit when approved for a new credit card for consumers with 620 credit or worse.
Average Approval Rates on New Credit Cards and Credit Limit Increases by Credit Score
- Consumers with 760+ credit scores have the highest chances for full approval at 96% for new credit cards and 81% for credit limit increases.
- Consumers with credit scores between 620 and 719 are rejected more than 10% more often for credit limit increases than for credit card applications.
- Consumers with credit scores between 620 and 679 have the highest chance of receiving part of the credit they request.
- Consumers with scores above 680 have a 23% higher chance of receiving credit card approvals than those with scores 679 and below.
- Consumers with credit scores above 760 have about the same chance of rejection for credit limit increases as those with scores between 680 and 719 do for new credit cards.
We use data exclusively available from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Expectations. Averages and percentiles, unless otherwise mentioned, are based only on consumers who provided data for the relevant metric and not a total count of all respondents. Please note that this data is provided as is for educational purposes and is not intended to be financial advice.
- Source: Survey of Consumer Expectations, © 2013-23 Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). The SCE data are available without charge at www.newyorkfed.org and may be used subject to license terms posted there. FRBNY disclaims any responsibility or legal liability for this analysis and interpretation of Survey of Consumer Expectations data.
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Commercial Bank Interest Rate on Credit Card Plans, All Accounts [TERMCBCCALLNS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TERMCBCCALLNS, April 20, 2023.