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Nearly half of credit cardholders say they’re very confident in their ability to pay their monthly card statement balance in full this month, according to the new Credit Card Confidence Index from CompareCards.com, but men are far more likely than women to feel that way.
Each month, CompareCards takes the pulse of cardholders, asking them to rate their confidence level in their ability to pay their card statements in full in that month. We also ask how often they’ve paid their balances in full in the past six months and how often they expect to do so in the coming six months. What we found is that even though debt continues to rise and delinquencies continue to creep upward, credit cardholders still feel really confident in their ability to handle their credit card bills, though men and women may view things a bit differently.
- 48% of cardholders said they were “very” confident in their ability to pay their card statement balances in full this month, up slightly from 47% last month. That’s the second straight monthly increase and ties the highest mark in the eight-month history of the index.
- Just 12% of cardholders said they were “not at all” confident in their ability to pay their card statement balance in full this month. That’s the second-straight decline and the lowest percentage in eight months.
- Just 1 in 5 cardholders said they had paid their credit card statement balance in full one time or fewer in the past six months. That’s the second-straight drop and the lowest number in the past eight months. However, the percentage of cardholders who had paid their statement balance in full in at least five of the last six months stayed flat this month at 45%, the second-lowest ever seen in the survey.
- Men are more likely than women to be very confident (54% of men said so vs. 41% of women). However, men were only slightly more likely to have paid in full each of the past six months (34% to 31%) or to say they’d pay in full each of the next six months (37% to 33%).
The bottom line: Be confident in planning for the future, too.
Clearly, men and women often see their current financial situations differently, and that shouldn’t be surprising. Survey after survey show women as more cautious and conservative with their money than men, and that’s a good thing. For many reasons, women’s financial margin for error is often far smaller than men’s, so that cautious approach to their finances isn’t about ideology or theory – it’s about survival.
That cautious, long-term approach to your finances usually makes sense for most anyone. That’s even true in good financial times. When people feel great about their financial situation, it’s wise for Americans to take steps that can help them feel more confident when a downturn comes. After all, confidence can vanish quickly in the face of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected expense.
- Got extra money left over after paying those card bills? Great. Put it to work for you. If you don’t have an emergency fund – and many Americans don’t – start building one, even if it is slowly. Don’t contribute to your 401k? Carve some money out of your upcoming paychecks and start saving. Even a little bit will add up over time. People who are smart with their money take a long-term view of their finances. It’s not easy to do, especially when you’re on a budget, but you owe it to your future self to do so.
- Call your credit card issuer and ask for a lower APR: Sure, you’re paying your card balances now, but there may come a time when you can’t. Now is a great time to call your issuer and ask to reduce your interest rate. Our recent survey showed that 8 in 10 cardholders who asked for a lower rate got one. (Yes, you read that right.) Far too few people ask, though. If you don’t, and you’ve got good credit, you’re likely just throwing money away if you’re carrying a balance, and that makes no financial sense.
- Upgrade your rewards: If you don’t pay off your cards every month, don’t worry about rewards. You should focus on finding the best balance transfer card available. (And there are many of them.) But if you’re paying your bills in full, it may be time to upgrade that old credit card to a new one with better returns. A simple cash-back card, used wisely, can help you extend your monthly budget. Maybe it’s only an extra $10 or $15 per month, but when you’re saving for a more confident future, every little bit helps.
All of those moves can help. What won’t help, however, is taking on more debt. If you’re not paying off those balance every month, resist buying that big new TV to watch the NBA playoffs. Instead, put that money away for when times get tough. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
CompareCards by LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 926 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population. The survey was fielded April 5-9, 2019, and the margin for error for all respondents is +/- 3.2%.